Monday, January 18, 2016

Have A Nice Day

Did you ever watch Mick Foley's professional wrestling character Mankind? It was the character Foley broke in to the World Wrestling Federation as after a successful stint on Japanese hardcore circuits, and later ECW, as his "Cactus Jack" persona. The idea behind Mankind was that he was an escaped mental patient who was abused as a child to the point of deformity. In terms of WWF characters, Mankind had an extremely complex backstory (compared to, say, Doink, whose entire existence can be summed up as "a clown that hits things"). But what really sold the character was Foley's delivery of his catch phrase "Have a nice day".

In interviews, Mankind would routinely talk about some screwed up things. As an example, he once have a particularly dark monologue about his mother breaking the two middle fingers on his right hand because he had failed to play a piano exercise correctly. At the end, Mankind signed off by telling the audience, in a broken and awkward cadence, to "Have a nice day...". The trick was, Foley could make you believe it. You honest-to-God believed that this crazy sonofabitch actually wanted your day to be ok, no matter how much pain he inflicted on others.

I'm reminded of that line every time I see Eve players talking about Real World troubles and triumphs. Like wrestling, Eve is a fake world full of characters played by real people. And Mankind's weird obsession with the dark and violent aspects of life makes him a good metaphor for the asthetic of New Eden. So it's not hard to see the parallel.

During an interview one time, Foley said that the "Have a nice day" line was aimed at his fellow wrestlers as a compliment and a well wish,

Outside of the game, a weird thing happens. We all turn into actual people. Gankers, pirates, spies, miners, carebears, explorers, and everything else. And while we might play Eve to escape the real world for a bit, at some point RL takes over. But I think that's something that works for us all: we have internet spaceships in common. We can talk about movies, music, comics, day jobs, families, and whatever else with each other because we've all got a single base line to work from.

The thing is, that base line is weirdly colored by the spectacle of "Sociopaths Online". To put it nicely, being some one who likes Eve just makes you plain weird to everyone else, and you're going to be viewed as dark and violent no matter what. To be more blunt, EvE is designed for players to screw each other over and anyone who can't hack it is someone to laugh at for the insiders. So when we go back out to the real world and talk about not-eve stuff, there's this weirdly honest quality to it. Anyone on the outside looking in won't get why a bunch of folks will spend so much time talking as video game characters. On the inside, we just talk about games, music, movies, toys, and other nerdery while trying to kill each other.

For my part, I really hope you've had nice day, and I would love to hear about it. Meanwhile, I'll be avoiding you in game because that just how I play. Its a weird dynamic, but one worth embracing.

Have a nice day :)

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