Even before the global coronavirus pandemic, it was becoming rote to point out that people, by and large, were not having a good time in 2020. For one thing, there’s the accelerating devastation of climate change, which has only exacerbated economic and political instability worldwide. There’s also been massive unrest over inequality across the globe, leaving many people feeling helpless to change the tide of history.
So what can a video game do to help anything? If you ask CCP Games, a fair amount, actually. Through their massively popular game EVE Online, CCP says players feel measurable, positive, and utilitarian impacts. Or as they simply label it: “The EVE Effect.” According to internal surveys, CCP claims a full 73 percent of players have made new friends through EVE, and among those who did, 65 percent said their new sense of connection meaningfully improved their real lives outside the game. What’s more, 72 percent said it’s possible that skills they learned in EVE helped them get better jobs. In the MMORPG, players find a complex, virtual environment that naturally cultivates substantive friendships, while teaching people skills that have practical applications day-to-day: ranging from spreadsheet fluency to leadership to better communication. True, that’s not fixing wide-scale global problems, but it’s making people’s day-to-day lives feel richer, and that’s meaningful.