20 years ago, people would have scoffed at, perhaps even ridiculed, the idea that a game could have a profound effect on its players. But nowadays, it would be very difficult to find a gamer who disagrees. Since its inception, gaming has been an engrossing hobby that helps build relationships, offers stress relief, and can even serve to impart lasting life skills. As games themselves have evolved and pursued more ambitious endeavors, this has only become more true.
One game that exemplifies this is EVE Online, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) that is nominally about spaceships and exploring the stars. Although it might seem at first like a straightforward game about blasting away your enemies, hoarding valuable resources, and exploring the star cluster of New Eden, once you peer beneath its surface, it’s also about building relationships between players and learning skills you can take with you to the real world. It could even be argued that without delving into the metagame around EVE, it is difficult to get a real picture of why the game has survived – and thrived – for as long as it has.
EVE’s infamous depth as a role-playing sandbox has allowed its players to become warlords who rally thousands of players and form massive fleets, aggressive capitalists with the wealth to buy and sell empires, and industrial tycoons whose virtual shipyards provide arms for the largest player vs player battles in gaming history. These players often become so immersed in the game that their lives can begin to shift and change around it — often for the better.