Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Blog Banter #54 - Heros

Welcome to the continuing monthly EVE Blog Banters and our 54th edition! For more details about what the blog banters are visit the Blog Banter page.
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Today's topic comes from Diaries of a Space Noob blog and other sources:

"Quick post. I was listening to a song and a question occurred to me.  Where are the EVE heroes? Against a dark background surely all we have are anti-heroes? A lot of mockery is aimed at any who attempt to be white knights. EVE is a dark place and yet pretty much all other MMO's try to place the player in the role of some form of hero, boosting the ego and taking the player out of the humdrum 1 in 7 billion that is RL. Why have I fitted into EVE? Did I never want to be that?  So Iguess my question is:

"Do classic heroes exist in EVE? Is such heroism even possible in EVE? How would you go about being one without opening yourself wide open to scams? Is the nature of the game so dark that heroes can't exist? How do you deal with that irony? What effect does this have on us and the psyche of new players coming in from other MMOs? Is it something special that we don't have classic heroes, or should we? Are our non classic heroes more genuine?"

First things first:

Virtue, goodness, codes of honor and the other generally accepted cultural markers of morality are not prerequisites to being a hero. Paragons of virtue can be heroes, but they do not define heroism. Acts of heroism as not necessarily virtuous acts. The relative morality of a person has very little to do with whether or not he or she is a hero.

  • Achilles allowed his fellow Achaeans to be routed and his best friend slaughtered because he was having a fit of pique over being denied a female prisoner he wished to enslave and rape. 
  • Thomas More burned 'heretics' while dreaming of Utopia
  • Galahad was a suicide. His father, Lancelot, was an adulterer and a traitor to his king.
  • Charlemagne, light of the early Middle Ages, ordered the slaughter of 4,500 unarmed Saxons, and enacted laws sentencing to death Germanic non-Christians who refused to convert
  • Lil Orphan Annie was watched over by two deadly Au Pairs; the assassins Punjab and Asp.  Plucky optimism is an easier world view to cultivate when a couple of morally unconstrained killing machines have one's back.  
  • Deception was wily Odysseus' stock in trade, and he shared Calypso's bed for years before finally returning to Ithaca after two decades of war, piracy and nymph-shagging. There he murdered from ambush the suitors gathered to court Penelope, his presumed widow
Forget about the distinction between anti-heroes and heroes. Anti-heroes are heroes. Period.  The only reason the term 'anti-hero' exists at all is that the various boards of censors during the twentieth century such as the MPPC, the CPTB and the CCA had so undermined and bound the core concept of heroism to a narrow moral code that such characters' utility as a compelling narrative force was severely compromised. An entirely new word was needed to reintroduce the morally ambiguous heroic figure back into popular culture.

So, jettison any lingering notions of 'Lawful Good' and the rest of the Dungeons & Dragons moral spectrum from your thinking. Get the trademarked Disney heroes out of your head. Prince Charming never got half the ass-kicking he deserved.

Traditionally, a hero is a protector or defender whose deeds are 'larger than life',  i.e., far beyond what we would reasonably expect of ourselves or others given a similar situation.  The hero usually battles against what would seem to be impossible odds and somehow manages, through strength, skill, sacrifice or sheer stubbornness, to beat them.  A hero may be a cultural archetype, but it is often a hero's distance from the archetype that makes his or her story compelling.

Finally, never forget that one group's hero is another group's villain. And yes, that means heroism is subject to moral relativism. Ajax and Achilles were heroes to the Achaeans, but little more than the worst of a grubby mob of thieves and murderers to the Trojans.  Crazy Horse was a hero to the Sioux, but somewhat less popular among the troopers of the US 7th Cavalry regiment. And I'm sure there are Imperial Storm Troopers who collect Sith Lord trading cards, hang Darth Vader posters in their barracks and have exceedingly unpleasant things to say about intergalactic terrorists like Luke, Obi-Wan and Yoda.

A number of writers in answering this blog banter have stated that there are no heroes in EVE.  EVE Online, they reason, is far too cynical and jaded for heroes.  

Piffle, say I.

The hero's natural place is among the jaded and the cynical. It is fallow ground for heroes precisely because it is when we need them most, and when they arrive most unlooked for and unrecognized.

My own list of EVE heroes is a long one that goes back to my earliest years in game. Some would surprise you. Many of them, as is true of most real-life heroes, are largely unknown to all but a handful of the EVE population.  They are and have been leaders, warriors, thieves, tricksters and industrialists. Their deeds of derring-do, self-sacrifice and steely-eyed courage will never grace the pages of EN24 or TMC.  Indeed, most do not consider themselves heroes.

I would not have it otherwise.