There is a huge discussion to be had with regards to EVE Online and the way it treats new pilots. I've touched on that discussion at certain points in the past, either relaying my own experiences with EVE, talking to pilots who went from nobodies to some of the biggest players in the game, and more. But Kira Tsukimoto's story is probably one of my favorites to date because it so perfectly highlights how all that outward ugliness that EVE Online can sometimes display is, at times, rendered completely ineffective by the power of the people playing it and the communities they build.
If you pay much attention to EVE drama, you'll know that right now is a divisive time for the community. In the wake of a failed Kickstarter campaign to bring one of the biggest wars from EVE's history to life, pilots are attacking the very idea of what "community" in EVE Online even is. But talking with Kira, who has only been playing the game for just over a year while commanding fleets for one of the (then) largest alliances in the game, hosting a popular podcast, and worming her way into the hearts of plenty of EVE players, I'm keen to forget all the bitterness that can soak into the discussions between players online. For Kira, EVE Online is about one thing: friends and fun.
"I had been circling EVE for ten years," Kira said. She explained that, though parts of EVE Online had piqued her interest, she had, like many, avoided jumping into the game for years because of the reputation and assumptions that she had. But after years of making eyes at CCP's sandbox, she finally jumped on board at the behest of a friend.
When you hear about the nightmarish horror stories that new players have in EVE, Kira has had them all. She recounted to me what an awful time her first month in the game was. She lost ships and didn't know why, bought PLEX and ferried it in a newbie ship (fortunately managing to slip by gankers and sell it), and trained skills that had nothing to do with what she wanted to pursue in the game. When her friend told her to run the Sisters of EVE mission arc, she was ganked when she jumped into a low security system without understanding what it was. She lost everything.
Eventually, Kira signed up with BRAVE before realizing that null-sec was a terrible hive full of scum and villainy and she didn't want to be there. But as she went back to high-sec, she didn't realize that she was still vulnerable to those who had declared war on BRAVE and she promptly lost more ships. Needless to say, Kira was having a rough time. "I was really confused. In the beginning of every game I've ever played, I had never died. There was nothing that could kill me because the rats—or mobs—were always weaker in those starting zones."
Kira was about ready to give up, but her friend urged her to attend EVE Down Under, the community gathering that takes place in Sydney, Australia. Kira arrived but her friend was running late, leaving her—barely a month old player—alone with a group of people she had never met. "I'm there by myself with a whole bunch of EVE nerds," she says, emphasizing the "nerds" part affectionately. "I don't even know how to talk to them because I'm so new to the game. But I'm like, fuck this; this is a convention, it's people with the same interest as me. We have to have things in common." Kira swallowed any doubts she might have had and started introducing herself to people while making it abundantly clear that she was new and had no idea of what she was doing.
"They actually started spending time explaining to me how I should do my skill queue, what kind of skills are most important when you're new to the game, what kind of experiences I had so far, and how I could have avoided dying. I was like, wow, you guys probably have more important things to talk about than talking to someone brand new, but they were really keen on doing it."