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The university of Iceland is starting a course on EVE as a 'friendship machine'

A fleet of EVE Online spaceships in warp.
(Image credit: CCP Games)

EVE Online developer CCP Games has announced a new online course, created alongside the University of Iceland, that is built around the long-running space MMOG and the relationships people form through it. CCP has been banging this particular drum for a long time but the pandemic saw the company lean even further into this concept and talk about the game as a 'friendship machine.' Sure enough the course is called Friendship Machine: Forming a New Type of Human Connection.

The course is about looking at the science behind how people forge meaningful relationships, and applying this to the new type of connection that videogames make possible. The first three weeks are free, while those who want to go all-in can register for the full course for $50/€40.91/£35.19. Brilliantly, if you do this you get a 'shareable certificate.' I'll certainly be sticking that up on my office wall.

I'm not being cynical about the course, though: MMOGs create the greatest player-driven stories in our industry, and even in that company EVE stands as perhaps the prime example. The course will analyse the stories of real players in EVE which, with access to CCP's data and knowledge, should be a series of fascinating deep-dives.

"There has been a growing concern over the past years that computer games could have seriously detrimental effects on gamers’ mental well-being and social skills," says Ársæll Arnarsson, professor of leisure studies at the University of Iceland and the course leader. "In selected cases, this may be true. But for the vast majority of people involved, studies actually indicate findings that gameplay platforms can effectively function as friendship formation devices. The communication and information technology can create an alternative space for disconnected individuals to meet, transcending geographical and socioeconomic barriers."

An opening ceremony will be held at CCP Games in Reykjavik later today at 5pm GMT / 11am EST, and can be watched here. You can sign up for the course here, and even free registration will give you access to most of the materials.

Rich was raised by a Spectrum 48K in the Scottish wilderness, and this early exposure to survival mechanics made him a rooter-out of the finest news truffles, and suspicious of all the soft, civilised Amiga people. These days he mostly plays Counter-Strike and Rocket League, and is good at one of them. He's also the author of a Brief History of Video Games.