I tried to do something crazy over the holiday season: I decided to take a break from EVE Online.
Yes, for those of us who are truly addicted to our daily doses of exciting interstellar rampaging (you know... like mining and refueling POSes), stepping away from the hypnotic spectacle of EVE Online may seem impossible - perhaps even unthinkable.
And yet, I did it.
OK, maybe not as well as I'd hoped.
In fact, on serious reflection, I failed badly. But at least I tried.
Problem? What problem?
Like all addicts, I started with the best of intentions. In November, I realized I was logging into EVE a lot. In fact, it was the first thing I did each morning, after making coffee. (Some addictions are more important than others - priorities, you know.) I'd fire up the big computer, give the EVE Online Launcher a cheery hello, log into my dependable miner character, and start him digesting a meaty asteroid belt somewhere.
Then I'd start up my work laptop, and check e-mail from my professional colleagues and clients.
Priorities: coffee, then EVE, then work. Makes sense, right? Of course it does.
Over lunch, I'd munch a sandwich while updating training queues and resetting sell and buy orders in the market. Then relaunch my trusty miner on another belt for an afternoon of 'roid raiding, while I attended once again to the needs of Real Life work clients. I'd swap back and forth between (work) laptop and (EVE Online) PC, taking calls and running a business, while keeping the economic cycles of New Eden flowing in the background.
I discovered that nothing makes a boring conference call more tolerable than running a quick mission or a courier job, at the same time.
When the workday was finished, I'd say hello to the wife, grab some dinner, and then log back in for an evening of fleets or missions or something else that was of an explode-y nature. Or I might conduct an EVE University class. Or just sit in station and chat with space friends. Then off to bed to start the cycle all over again.
Don't get me started about the weekends. Those were turning into all-day and all-night EVE Online marathons.
In November, I was wolfing down my dinner, eager to get back to finishing a hauling run to Jita, when my wife sighed. "You know," my charming bride said offhandedly, "you seem to be playing that game a lot."
"You mean EVE?," I replied. "Oh, I don't know about that."
She rolled her eyes. "Have you ever measured it?"
"What do you mean?"
"I challenge you to keep a record of how often you are logged into that game, for a week," she said, with that annoyingly knowing look in her eyes.
I considered the idea. Even though I was in the middle of a massive Real Life work project at the time, I was finding myself logging back into EVE whenever I could find a few minutes free. No matter how stressful things got at work, I could always count on EVE to help unwind.
Hmmm, perhaps my wise spouse was right - was this becoming a problem?
"OK, you're on," I said. "But I'm sure it's not as much time as you think."
Though I put up a confident front, I wasn't so sure she was wrong.
Confronting the Brutal Truth
For a week, I diligently recorded whenever my EVE client was running. I decided not to change my usual habits, as I wanted an honest picture of what was really happening each day. At the end of the week, I tabulated the results.
I was logging into my EVE client more than 12 hours every work day, and almost 20 hours a day over the weekend. And this was in the middle of a huge work project that was keeping me offline more than usual. If it wasn't for CCP Games' daily downtime, I could see myself happily running my EVE client 24 hours a day.
"OK, I might have a bit of a problem here," I sheepishly muttered to my bride.
I resolved to stay away from EVE through New Years' Day, as much as I could. I didn't want to quit the game, but I really had no idea if I could resist the siren call of New Eden. I was curious to see if I could, and what that might feel like.
For a month, I kept my EVE activity limited to checking training queues, updating market orders, and attending to the occasional E-UNI matter. I even ignored this blog, though that was surprisingly the most difficult thing.
I spent time with the family. Took a nice trip with the wife. Saw some friends. I even caught a couple movies. And I finished my work project, successfully. I discovered that one can live perfectly well without being logged into an EVE Online client. Amazing, but true.
And I was awfully miserable. I missed the joy of cornering the market in Hek, the satisfaction of earning enough LP to get that SoE ship blueprint, and the thrill of seeing a target blow up in a victorious fleet op. And, surprisingly, I missed the tedium of attending to routine corporate business, the agony of losing a ship in combat, and the boring buzz of mining lasers methodically converting 'roids into ISK.
I missed EVE Online, a lot.
I Have the Greatest Wife Ever
I've been married to my high school sweetheart for over thirty years - easily the best thing I have ever done in my life. She's remarkably tolerant of my quirks, of which there are too many to enumerate here. Though she does not play video games, she does appreciate their appeal. And she is not insensitive to my fascination with "that space game".
"You've really cut back on EVE," she told me last week. "I appreciate that. It's been nice to spend more time together, especially over the holidays."
"Yes, it's been good," I replied, while thinking about zipping an Ishkur around in a 'plex, blowing up little red crosses.
She wasn't fooled. "You miss it, don't you?"
"Yeah, but you were right, I was spending too much time on it." I tried to look sincere, but my face betrayed me.
She sighed. "I can tell you're not happy. And I've been thinking about it myself. I have a friend whose husband loves to play golf. He plays almost every day - and all day on Saturday and Sunday. She hates golf. And she never sees him anymore."
"Everyone should have a hobby," she continued. "Something that they enjoy. I love to read, and you've never complained about that. Now I feel bad because I think I took your hobby away. At least it kept you home here with me. I like that. So, I have an idea."
My wife is brilliant.
We moved a sofa into the corner of my office, and set up a reading lamp and end table. We agreed that evening time is online time for me, and reading time for her - and we do it together, in the same room, just a few feet away from each other. In fact, we're together right now, while she's curled up with her Kindle reading a novel, and I'm mining away in a Mack and updating this blog for the first time in a month.
I have the EVE symphony playing softly on the PC. My charming bride says it's perfect background music for reading.
It feels great to be back in New Eden regularly again, and even better doing so with a happy spouse. Life is good.
Fly safe! o7