It's almost too easy to draw comparisons between the bleak landscapes of Iceland and the sense of coldness and isolation within the game. While it's true that EVE Online could only ever be a product of this country, there's more than an aesthetic similarity to take into account.

Our tour guide for a post-Fanfest expedition talks about the survivalist mentality of the Icelandic people in the wake of a recent double whammy: the economic recession followed by an eruption from the world's most unpronounceable volcano, bringing Europe's airspace grinding to a halt and effectively cancelling that year's tourist trade.

He laughs it off with a shrug of his shoulders: "This is Iceland. Two years ago recession. One year ago volcano. Next year? Plague."

While some have travelled from as far afield as Australia, Eyjolfur Jonsson, an Icelander and a player, also gives his thoughts on the correlations between the harsh realities of his country's environment and the open-ended challenge of EVE Online:

"The freedom and opportunities in the game fits the mindset of Icelandic people for thinking outside of the box. I think the game is getting more and more close to life as we know it. Icelanders also know well how EVE is helping Icelandic tourism in these dead times. Most are proud to see so many people coming to visit Reykjavik."

Hardiness of character isn't just the preserve of an inhospitable island country, of course. Martin Clapson made the journey to Iceland a mere two days after being diagnosed with Bell's Palsy, which has left one side of his face paralysed a frightening experience that would leave most people scared to leave the safety of the NHS.

"Some people take this game very seriously, and dedicate a lot of their free time to it," he says. "With any other game I would write it off as painfully unhealthy, but EVE is the only game I know of that's open enough to allow you to become that involved, giving minimal guidance and a whole universe of bastards to share it with.

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Developer panel.

"As games go, I guess it's the 'realest' out there and I'm not complaining, because EVE's still the closest thing to the computer game we all dreamed about in our youth. We're steadily getting closer and closer to that dream as CCP continues to expand the universe."

As for his diagnosis and how it might have impacted his travel plans, Martin was determined: "As soon as I found out that it wasn't permanent and there was nothing I could do about it, I was buggered if I was going to let it stop me. Having said that, the steroids really got in the way of enjoying the night life."

Undoubtedly, it's the 'single-shard' nature of EVE Online's server architecture where at peak times, 65,000 people come online simultaneously to integrate with each other, for good or ill that takes the world of New Eden from a merely artificial reality to a truly complete and tangible space in the world.

Every player attending Fanfest has his or her own story to tell, whether it's about the extraordinary collapse of their sovereignty power bloc, or the simple interaction of trade where limited manufacturing opportunities combined with supply and demand keep the economy in a constant state of flux.

Directly or indirectly, everyone has shared a part of the overall experience. We can't all be dominoes, but we're all buffeted by the never-ending sequence of events. As with our real-world relationships, nothing comes for free, and everything has consequences.

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John Bedford

John Bedford

Editor in Chief, Metabomb

John is Metabomb's Editor in Chief, and is responsible for all of the Hearthstone news, features and guides content on the site.

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