As I'm standing in the lobby of the gorgeous Harpa building in downtown Reykjavik, Iceland, EVE Online's reputation for calloused savagery feels more like a guise. I'm watching Tairon Usaro profess his love to Irma Amatin in front of a congregation of about a hundred other players. They are dressed in classical Amarrian dress, one of four empires players join when creating a new character. Officiating the wedding is Charles White, better known as Max Singularity, the Space Pope of EVE Online. It's a pretty surreal experience watching a man dressed as a galactic pope marry two people cosplaying as their in-game characters. But that's just the kind of weird stuff that makes me love Fanfest, developer CCP Games' annual Icelandic fan-convention.
You can watch the entire ceremony above (and I'd definitely recommend taking the time to take in that incredible Amarrian hymn sung by one of the monks in the wedding party). After the ceremony was over, I sat down with the happy couple to hear their story and why, of all places, a wedding at Fanfest was exactly the right place.
Tairon met Irma (both players go by their in-game names) outside the context of EVE five years ago and was immediately crazy about her. There was just one problem: Days later, he had to fly to Iceland to attend Fanfest. Tairon is a hardcore EVE player, and his crush would have to be put on hold while he flew to the middle of the Atlantic ocean to wear costumes, talk spaceships, and drink copious amounts of very expensive Icelandic beer. But Tairon is a bold man who likes to let his inner geek shine, so while he was away, he decided to text Irma pictures of his cosplay.
"He kept texting me and sending me strange pictures about strange people in a strange space universe," Irma says. "I was part 'whiskey-tango-foxtrot,' and part 'OK, that's interesting.'" ('Whiskey-tango-foxtrot' meaning 'WTF.')
Tairon's bold play worked. Irma tells me she was "hooked on him" and when he finally returned, the two quickly started dating and became very serious. A year later, she was travelling to Fanfest with him, now an EVE player herself. "The primary thing for me really is the community and the people we fly with," Irma says. "Because I got to know a lot of the community early on, I was hooked then."
In the years since, EVE Online has become a huge part of the happy couple's life. Not only do they fly together in-game, they also run Germany's largest EVE meetup called G-Fleet. They host several gatherings a year and players from all over the country—nearly 150 of them—come to hang out. It was at their most recent meetup that Tairon decided to pop the question.
"I had noticed he was behaving a bit strangely a little bit during the event, but we're always stressed out during them so I didn't [chalk] it up to anything else," Irma says, laughing. "Thirty seconds before he asked the question I realized what was going to happen so I had a little moment to compose myself."
In front of a hundred of their fellow EVE players, Tairon proposed to Irma. Months later, in February, they officially tied the knot with just them and an officiant. But knowing that the EVE community wanted to be a part of their celebration, they decided to ask Charles White, the Space Pope, if he'd host a small cosplay ceremony at EVE Fanfest. "We thought it might be nice to have a little something, and the little something turned into this."
They had no idea that the Space Pope would instead organize a ceremony on the main floor of the Harpa convention center, where nearly a thousand players would be hanging out in between panels about EVE Online.
The two are officially still on their honeymoon, which Fanfest is the final part of. Once they're back to real life, they tell me they're looking forward to continue their work growing EVE Online's German fanbase.
See? EVE Online isn't all bad.