Old Timers in EVE Online

On the EVE University forums, there is an informal poll asking the Real Life age of our corporation members. The results, compiled after a few years of data gathering, are an interesting normal distribution:

Real Life age distribution of EVE University poll respondents

Real Life age distribution of EVE University poll respondents

If this poll is accurate, the average age of the typical UNI is not quite 30 years old. That surprises me. Since so many UNI members are brand new to EVE Online, I'd expect that average to be slightly lower than the typical EVE player, if there is such a thing. That means that the median age of EVE Online players is probably around 30 years old.

Compared to other MMOs that I've sampled, that's definitely a more mature group, relatively speaking. I recall my first and only foray into World of Warcraft. It seemed like everyone I encountered was in high school, and the amazing depth of unsophistication in my brief inter-player conversations reinforced that impression. I flew from WoW after only a few hours, vowing never to play it again. Having previously raised two children through their teens, I found no pleasure in experiencing that kind of inane chattering again, especially during my precious recreational time.

EVE Online players are different. As a group, EVE players seem to be a bit more seasoned. For example, most of my corpmates seem to have actual relationships in the real world, instead of imagined adolescent fantasies. "Uh oh - wife aggro," is a commonly understood and readily accepted reason for logging off. If I'd mentioned that in WoW, I suspect it would have generated a flurry of giggling taunts, at least. In EVE, most people just reply with a heartfelt, "Good luck!", simultaneously expressing their empathy with a poor fellow's experience.

EVE Online has also taught me that I'm old. Really old. After successfully completing 54 solar orbits, so far, I never considered myself to be ancient. But corp chat has revealed that I have been deluding myself.

This is not me - but I feel like this sometimes...

This is not me - but I feel like this sometimes...

I was in UNI corp chat the other day, and had this conversation... 

UNI #1 > Hey, I just got a new PC, with a new Nvidia card. This thing rocks! 

UNI #2 > Did you get Windows 8?

UNI #1 > No, I kept Win7 - I didn't see a reason to get 8. 

UNI #3 > Man, I remember Vista on my first PC. That was awful. 

UNI #2 > Vista? My first PC ran XP. I guess I'm old.

Neville Smit > Ha! My first OS was CP/M, running on an Altos PC with 8.5 inch floppy drive.  I still remember mastering PIP commands.

 (long pause)

UNI #1 > Gee, grandpa - I didn't know you played EVE, too. :-) 

UNI #2 > LOL!

I guess I deserved that. Good thing I didn't mention that I still remember the dark beforetimes - before MMOs, before the Internet, before e-mail, before PCs - as if they were yesterday. There weren't even mobile phones, once upon a time. Yes, folks, there was indeed such a dreary and scary era in mankind's history, and some of us are old enough to have lived then.

And some of us old-timers play EVE Online.

The oldest player I've ever encountered in EVE was when I was a personnel officer in the UNI. I interviewed an applicant, who turned out to be a retired military man who loved his PC. He was a fan of science fiction, and enjoyed the social aspect of MMO games.

"I really love this game," he told me. "I'm probably the oldest geek in the world."

"Oh?," I replied, "I'm over 50, myself."

"I've got a son about that age," he said. "I'm 74." 

I accepted him into the UNI, and he played casually for a few years. He loved to chat with our other members, and became quite good at dispensing helpful advice on fittings. No one ever suspected that they were talking with a septuagenarian - but I always got a kick out of seeing him online. It reminded me that perhaps I might be able to do the same thing, in twenty years.

Whenever I do an orientation class for new UNIs, I remind them that there are many different kinds of players in EVE Online. I always tell the story of the 74-year-old recruit, and say, "So, remember, you might be chatting with your grandfather here - you never know - so keep it respectful." That always makes a significant impression on our new members.

I wonder how many of us old timers there are in EVE. Compared to other MMOs, no doubt we're a larger percentage than usual. But I get the impression that we're a small minority. If the UNI poll is any indication, we represent less than 5 percent of the entire player base. 

Still, it's nice to have a game where we ancient capsuleers can feel at home. 

Fly safe! o7