Dying in EVE Online changed my life

EVE Online
(Image credit: CCP)

PC Gamer Magazine

(Image credit: Future)

This article first appeared in PC Gamer magazine issue 354 in February 2021. Every month we run exclusive features exploring the world of PC gaming—from behind-the-scenes previews, to incredible community stories, to fascinating interviews, and more.  

I'll never forget my first real fight against another player in EVE Online—it had taken me, a fresh-faced noobie at the time, almost a month to scrounge up the ISK to buy a beloved Catalyst destroyer, and now I was about to lose it fighting a player in a vastly more deadly assault frigate. As my shields evaporated in a single volley, I began shaking so severely from the adrenaline rush that I couldn't accurately use my mouse anymore. 

Dying in EVE Online is intense. Unlike most other MMOs, where you can simply respawn with all your stuff and carry on with your quest, a destroyed ship is gone forever. That loss stings if you don't have the ISK to immediately purchase a replacement. But while I raged in the moment, those memories are some of the strongest I've had playing any PC game. It meant something to lose that ship. There were stakes beyond good and bad endings or plot twists triggered by dialogue choices. EVE Online was the first time I felt the consequences of my actions in a game. The emotional highs and lows that came as a result have defined not just how I think about PC games, but also my career.

So much of what I've come to love about PC gaming is present in EVE Online. It's complex and takes a lot of patience and persistence to understand. Players are given unparalleled freedom in deciding not only what they want to do, but how they fit into the greater EVE community, and it's a game that consistently rewards quick wits and clever strategising. 

Space to grow

When I first started playing it back in 2012 on a 13-inch Macbook (forgive me), it was my first real exposure to these kinds of PC games that just don't exist on consoles. I didn't know it at the time, but EVE Online was the beginning of my transformation into a PC gamer. Though I had always played games on PC, like World of Warcraft and multiplayer shooters, EVE was a gateway drug that led me to Mount and Blade and Path of Exile—intimidating and hopelessly complex games that feel almost infinite in their scope. These are now some of my most-played games of all time. 

But EVE Online is also the one game that got me to where I am today as a senior reporter at PC Gamer. When I was 25 years old, I decided to make a wild pivot and chase my childhood dream of writing about videogames. And because I loved EVE Online and the wild space drama that erupts from it on an almost daily basis, I had a hunch other people might like those stories too. My first-ever pitch was to PC Gamer and it was about a band of ruthless murderers in EVE. My hunch was right, and my EVE Online articles helped establish me as a full-time freelance writer before joining PC Gamer. Since then, I've had the pleasure of writing about everything from EVE Online's cunning pirates to how a scam turned into the game's greatest rescue mission. I've travelled to Iceland, Las Vegas, and Finland for these stories. 

EVE Online is an MMO that transcends how I normally think about games and the people that play them. It's a weird alternate universe experienced only through the cockpit of ships that are typically only seen as small icons floating in space. But when those icons start shooting at each other, incredible stories of betrayal, loyalty and karma begin to materialise. I'm not being hyperbolic when I say living, hearing and telling those stories for the past decade has changed my life.

Steven Messner

With over 7 years of experience with in-depth feature reporting, Steven's mission is to chronicle the fascinating ways that games intersect our lives. Whether it's colossal in-game wars in an MMO, or long-haul truckers who turn to games to protect them from the loneliness of the open road, Steven tries to unearth PC gaming's greatest untold stories. His love of PC gaming started extremely early. Without money to spend, he spent an entire day watching the progress bar on a 25mb download of the Heroes of Might and Magic 2 demo that he then played for at least a hundred hours. It was a good demo.