Watching the Watchers
Sunrise Aigele

It is an old joke, which I first heard from Ripard Teg, that people would rather read about EVE than play it. Malcanis, fresh off his term on CSM 8, made an excellent point that it made sense for CCP to give the readers something to buy, too, because they’re a potentially large audience.

The True Stories initiative makes a lot of sense from that point of view, although the method of choosing the story was predictably bad, with predictably bad results. And on that note, how did their first attempt at this strategy fare? Not well, by all indications.

First, they had to change the story up considerably to fit the restrictive 64-page graphic novel format they settled on. Band of Brothers became a mining corporation(!) instead of a(n excessively) tight military-style operation. Things were simplified or edited out entirely. Fair enough so far, although this already oversold story has been impoverished considerably.

What mystifies me is that CCP, who are so painstakingly careful about the esthetics of their universe, then hired four artists, none of whom are as good as their in-house artists to my eye, to each do 16 pages. The result is that it is difficult to tell who is who from one artist to the next, and the effect is disjointed and disorienting. I wish that were my only concern, but it is not. The design language is classic comic-book exaggeration, with all poses and expressions turned up to 11. Everything is dramatic, therefore nothing is. And then there are the women. CCP has bright, strong, female employees, some in senior positions. Why is it so hard for them to have a female character who is not crazy, or a victim, or (in the case of the graphic novel) an occasional, silent ornament? CCP Seagull, if you are still wondering what drives women away from science fiction, the answer is right there in those drawings. Science fiction has nothing to do with it. It’s just the same tired clichés we’ve all seen in every other setting are here, too.  It’s not that there have to be superwomen—that’s too far the other way—there just have to be engaging characters who are not men. If you can change Band of Brothers from an elite fighting force to a bureaucratic industrial concern, you can change some of the men to women, too.

Finally, while it is a popular conceit that the players write the best tales, it is not necessarily true. You have good writers, although they are too purple sometimes. You can tell good stories, and you can write them to fit whatever medium you are using. You can even take things that the players have done and write them in. The less you rely on schtick and cliché, the more clearly the stories will come through and the more compelling they will be.

I wish CCP luck in this strategy. It is a great opportunity if they can seize it.


Watching the Watchers — 2 Comments

  1. I agree with you on the graphic novel, Sunrise. The issues with the depiction of female characters aside, the artwork didn’t seem on par with what we see all the time in EVE. It was a really different esthetic.

    I’m someone who probably reads (and writes, for that matter) more about EVE than I actually play it. That was definitely true for a year or so after I got my current job. I just had no time to play. But I did still have time to read blogs and alliance forums when I had a few minutes here and there at work.

    I applaud CCP’s branching out into other media, and I’ll be one of the first in line to buy most things they put out. I’m kinda hoping for things to be kicked up a notch on the next iteration of the graphic novels, though.

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