Picking Up Nerds: A Guide to Seducing Eve Players
Originally, this guide began its life as a “how to infiltrate a corp” type walkthrough, but soon enough, its scope became much larger than that. For one, there are already more than a few fantastic guides on how to simply get into a corp in Eve, and honestly, if your intentions in joining one are to inflict wanton chaos and destruction, simply cold applying to handfuls of corps at a time is both minimal effort and ridiculously easy. Furthermore, this guide will not go into the specifics of how to choose a target or ideal corp to infiltrate/join, as it assumes you’ve already figured that part out on your own, based on your own goals or intended targets. Instead, this is going to discuss the deeper psychological and social dynamics of human interactions as they pertain to trust and acceptance in Eve Online. From that angle, we’re going to cover not just how to get into a corp, but how to get a corp to jump through hoops to woo you into joining, as well as how to make yourself indispensable once you have.
Eve, by the very definition of it being a massive multiplayer online game, is a highly social experience. And as humans, with vocal cords, a frontal lobe, opposable thumbs, a written language, and the internet, we are all by default and by varying degrees, social creatures. As such, we all crave interaction and reciprocation, even the seemingly anti-social introverts (closing off from and avoiding social interaction is a defense mechanism meant to encourage the more extroverted to enter into the introvert’s reality, but that begins to delve into more psychology and sociology than this guide is probably going to get into). Exploiting this natural trend towards social companionship and trust is the first order of business.
To a certain degree, the ability or inability to socially interact well with others is a trait you learned (or didn’t) at a very early age; another school of thought would be that social navigational skills are something you’re either born with or without. Regardless, my own opinion is that learned or not, genetically coded with or without, its a trait and ability that can be picked up and improved on, which is the premise this guide hangs on.
Whatever your intentions may be (though fair warning, this will be more than slightly skewed towards those with nefarious intentions), this, the first chapter of this guide, will primarily cover approaching, befriending, and seducing your way into any corporation in Eve.
To take a step back from Eve for a second, there are two books you should read, though both recommendations come with my own caveat.
The first one is Robert Greene’s “The 48 Laws of Power”. Taking cues from the teachings and lives of historical power-magnates, from Machiavelli and Sun Tzu to PT Barnum and Henry Kissinger, Greene’s book literally defines and lays out power in 48 “laws” such as “Conceal your intentions” (#3), “Pose as a friend, work as a spy” (#14), or “Control the options: get others to play with the cards you deal” (#31); if you can’t see the application this holds for Eve Online, you should stop reading now and go take a hard look at the game you’re playing.
The caveat here is that “48 Laws” needs to be taken as a referential cross-section of anthropological and sociological history, not a guide-book. Greene’s book is NOT about how to make friends or encourage relationships, and he makes absolutely no bones about this. Internalizing this book and owning it entirely will will teach you to disregard human relationships, alienate friends, be suspicious of loved ones, and will in short turn you into a bitter and calculating asshole; take it with a giant grain of salt.
The other book, which this guide will actually more directly draw from, is Neil Strauss’s “The Game”.
Drawing heavily on “The 48 Laws of Power”, “The Game” is a sort of pop-autobiographical guide/story of one man’s transformation from loser to Lothario by way of discovering and delving into the secret online world of the the pick-up artist. From basic physical and style make-overs to approaching 1,000 strangers over a 48 hour period, to mastering hypnosis, word pattern emotional associations, and handwriting analysis, Strauss very precisely breaks down the art of seduction in almost a mathematical equation where simply knowing exactly what to say, when to say it, and how to say it, will always mean 1 + 1 = laid.
At its best moments, “The Game” and its subject material is benignly sexist; at worst, disturbingly misogynistic with an added flair of rampant dehumanization and predatory encouragement. Still, the application towards internet spaceships should be obvious here as well (for an added wtf layer, after reading about Neil’s adventures in dating 5 women at the same time, orchestrating threesomes at a whim, and picking up Brittney Spears, go youtube the bald, diminutive, lispy-voiced man behind the book and pick your jaw off the floor).
As I mentioned earlier, Eve is a hugely social-based game, and as such, the applications of power, seduction, and socio-emotional control are as much a part of the game as loading ammo into your guns; if you don’t believe me, look around and tell me if you’re in charge of anything more that choosing yes or no on your next agent mission request.
In addition to these two books, there are two Eve guides to infiltration and social engineering that I’d highly suggest reading: Psychotic Monk’s “Some Advice on Scamming“, and Paul Clavet’s “Playing the Spy” (slightly outdated at this point but completely mandatory reading).
I’ve spent the better part of my 5 years in Eve thus far, and for mostly ill-willed intentions, approaching, applying to, and getting into a LOT of corporations. In my own experiences, as well as seeing the attempts of others, what I’ve found is that a lot of times, you end up trying to sell yourself to a corp; consciously or not, the recruiter and his/her corp are viewed as the reality, and you are trying to enter into that reality. Step 1: stop it.
The mindset you need is that this is your game, and others are there merely interacting with your experience. In a game as broad and massively multiplayer as Eve, this is of course completely and utterly untrue, but its a state of mind and an internal mantra that you need to have in the initial approach. Remember, this is YOUR game, and YOUR reality; make them come into it. Instead of trying to prove yourself or your worth to a potential target, reverse that. Demonstrate your worth, and make them prove their worth to you; you have nothing to “prove” to anyone. The important thing to remember is that in this recruiter-recruit relationship, you are the commodity, which is to say, the corp needs you, not the other way around.
This is admittedly a bit of a hard-line mindset, and is itself an assertion of self confidence and bravado that you may not have. If you want practice (and I recommend it), create a blank alt, and spend 2 days talking to as many people in Eve as you possibly can. Actually, here’s a goal: talk to 50.
Now what this doesn’t mean is “go start 50 in-game convos that you leave hanging and speak 3 words with someone before they grow bored and leave”. This means have 50 real, genuine conversations with people, where your goal is simply to shed any an all trepidation you may have surrounding talking to strangers in a video game. You’re not looking for 50 corp invites, or even one for that matter; what you’re looking for is ease of interaction. Hang out in the mission help channel, or Exploration, or an Incursion community channel and talk about anything you want: mining, mission advice, real-world news, your favorite movie, etc. Be whoever you want; invent a backstory and a game history, invent a preposterous “I was there” story or a ludicrous real life persona. Your goal here is to make fake friends, and what you want ideally is to do this so well that the other person adds you as a contact. We’ll get back to that though.
Now, back to the recruitment. Begin vaguely, and never with a direct approach. Your first few minutes of conversation shouldn’t even touch on the subject of recruitment or you joining the corp, even if its the obvious impetus for your conversation request. Instead, use that time to put your “talk to 50 people” practice into effect; make a friend.
Have an opener ready; a made-up funny story or question that initiates a rapport and creates an implied bond:
“Wow, man, I need to pay attention to overview better, just about lost my Retriever to belt rats there!”
“What am I up to? Oh not much, working on grinding through The Blockade…I always mess up those triggers!”
“Woah, getting targeted by strangers outside Dodixie m20 station…always freaks me out.”
Everyone has had these experiences, or at least ones like them, and your sole intention in opening with them is to frame your interaction with a fake yet shared experience. Again, we all need and desire human interaction and validation and except maybe in the extreme cases, we’re all playing a massive mulitplayer game for a reason. Creating an implied emotional bond by way of a shared experience, whether they’re aware of it or not, has the effect of cracking that first natural human defense barrier, and suggests to the brains emotional response system that you are no longer a stranger, but at least an acquaintance.
Setting the Frame:
Now that you’re on friendly terms with a recruiter, you get to the meat of the interaction: what you do, what you’re looking for, and why you should be in this corp. You do this by framing every situation around yourself, and if this sounds obnoxiously egotistical, its because it is.
Socially, whoever has the strongest reality, or situational frame, has a way of dominating the collective interaction. What this tends to mean in basic terms is that the loudest, boldest, and strongest personality in the room usually frames the way everyone else views that current state. Again, “tends to” are the key words there, since the smartest, most calculating personality in the room has a way of dominating it as well; over-the-top volume or boldness is simply a tool used to achieve those ends. Loud people do have a way of dominating the frame, but only because of the physicality of their presence; learn to be able to easily figure out what tool works best with each scenario and with which person and persona, and you will set the frame every time.
Develop a rapport: this means trust + comfort. In the real world, trust is usually earned, though in Eve this is seldom the case (people, especially recruiters, really ought to start insisting on it though). Instead, in Eve trust is usually implied, suggested, wrapped up with a bow in a beautiful lie, or most commonly (and hilariously), assumed. “Comfort” is simply your ability to set someone at ease by using body language, voice tone, wording and phrasing, demonstration of value, and an easy framing of the situation. In layman’s terms, “comfort” is your ability to be likable.
To me (“me” = me the person/human being, not the Eve character), the comfort part comes easy, not just because I’m good at lying, but because I’m naturally a likable person; I enjoy and I’m good at reading and talking to people and I’m at ease in most social situations. This isn’t bravado or self-aggrandizing, that’s simply my own natural human character. If you aren’t good at these things, (be honest; I’m looking at you neck-beard) you can and should work on them for much more than their practical applications in internet spaceships. But, an interface like a video game that lets you socially interact in real-time with others while hiding behind the facade of an avatar is certainly a great place to start.
Setting the frame involves a liberal amount of stretched truths, if not outright lies. Again, this guide may be slanted towards the idea of “infiltrating” a corp, but even if you’re honestly trying to get into a corp for their great mining boosts or ratting space, a little white lie or stretched truth never hurt anyone; hell, people do this on real world resumes every day.
Demonstrating Worth and Owning the Situation:
“I’m a mackinaw pilot, I’m into industry, and I’ve got great Gallente faction standings”
Bad. With no preliminary intel, you’ve just pigeonholed yourself. Possible responses now may include “oh, well we’re based out of Caldari” or, “Oh dang, we were looking for a Fenrir pilot to fly our corp Freighter” or “yeah not many indy pilots, but we do a lot of L4s and incursions, too bad this wont work”. Adding in a hasty “oh, yeah, I also fly/do that” looks desperate and needy at best, if not downright suspicious.
Instead, you want to start vague and move to towards specificality only as that information is inadvertently revealed to you; this is what street-side fortune tellers call “cold reading”. Volunteer information only as it is volunteered to you and you will appear to be the ideal candidate for any and every situation:
“Well we’re thinking about moving the whole corp to null-sec but need to work out the logistics of moving first”
You reply with:
“Oh very cool. Yeah logistics can be tricky, I use to jump around in my Anshar a lot when I was in null”.
This volunteers information without you directly volunteering your services. You haven’t said anything like “oh, give me all your stuffs and I can move it!”, you’ve merely implied, thinly, that you are a possibly solution to a problem; this is called demonstrating worth. Whats even better in the above scenario is that you never approached them as a jump freighter pilot out-right. By revealing that information, subtly, by way of a conversational direction they initiated, you have also subtly empowered them into a subconscious (or even highly conscious, depending on the ego) idea that they themselves “discovered” this solution to their problem; who says inception is just a movie?
Demonstrating worth and making others qualify themselves to you are how you frame your reality as THE reality, and put the situation firmly in the palm of your hand. A corp that isn’t API checking will believe almost anything you tell them about yourself as a character, especially if you’ve done your research. Lying will get you the moon, in Eve, sometimes literally, if you do it right.
Have a fake story, but don’t make it so involved and detail-heavy that you end up tripping on it yourself later. You want to imply and suggest a intensely interesting personal back-story and knowledge-base, not convince them of it; they’ll convince themselves enough wanting to learn your implied wisdom of the ages. Remember to be vague enough that you remain interesting, yet not so much that you seem aloof and inhuman. Be unique and yet just another face in the crowd at the same time. When creating a fake back-story for a spy or awoxer, I usually keep a small dossier note going to keep track of what I’ve said I’ve done and can do.
Sidenote - APIs:
Where stretching the truth or lying can get you in trouble is with API checks; these are the cock-blocks of the Eve recruitment dating scene. If your target corp does them, you have a few options. For one, you can just let them do it. Again, if you’re really just looking for a good mining corp as a genuine miner, you’ve got nothing to hide, and if anything, it will create another shared bond of trust between you and your corp.
Your second option is to hem and haw and generally try and weasel your way out of it:
“I’ve heard people like Goons use that information to hack your account”
“I’d rather not; as a trader, my transactions and contacts are somewhat private”
“I’m really not comfortable with that. I can definitely send you screenshots of my login screen and links to my killboard though” (NO ONE is going to actually take you up on a screenshot).
Be aware that in any case, attempting to dodge what is essentially what pick up artists would call a “shit test” (a measured test to try and suss out bullshit) will immediately trigger suspicion and defense from your mark. Ideally, you try and sidestep it tactfully and gracefully enough to mitigate that suspicion, but a little is unavoidable.
Your third option when presented with a shit test like asking for an API is to avoid the discussion, create some more banter, and gracefully extract yourself from the conversation. Use anything but the API request as an excuse to leave (“my wife needs me”, “my kids just got home”, “my comp is acting strange, brb”), and go start again somewhere else.
Remember, if you DO have evil intentions and/or are outright lying, an API WILL uncover this; kills will show up, the fact that you can actually only fly a gank Catalyst when you mentioned you could fly a Mackinaw, suspicious wallet transactions to an obvious alt, and pretty much everything else that will sink your boat. If you’re hiding something, don’t do an API. In any case, if you’re up to no good, the corp that wants you to jump through hoops isn’t the corp you ideally want to be trying to infiltrate anyways. In a later section of this guide, I’ll go over ways of keeping an alt off the books and clean, where an API check is unavoidable.
Sealing the Deal:
Remember our little exercise where you were going to talk to 50 people, and the goal was that they add you as a contact? Here’s where that comes into relevance. After you’ve talked with a recruiter, or spoken to the group in their public channel, your green-light goal is to be invited to join, not to ask. Even if it only registers at a deep, deep subconscious level, you outright asking to come into their little world is an attack, and has the potential to trigger defense. An invitation however, is a sign that you’ve passed every conscious or unconscious test they’ve thrown your way, and that you have been accepted as an equal.
If this guide so far sounds way bigger and loftier than internet spaceships, its because in a way, it is. As mentioned before as well as in the title of this post, this is ultimately a guide to seduction and inter-personal validation; I’ve just applied it to Eve. In fact, with enough self confidence, a good haircut, and the right shoes (gentlemen, sandals are for the beach; unless you live on a tropical island, stop wearing them out to dinner), this guide almost in its exact wording could probably get you a phone number or two as well.
In a further chapter of this guide, we’ll move forward from application and acceptance into cementing your position in a corp and making yourself indisposable, as well as fun tricks like orchestrating an experience, isolating a target, and sowing discontent without implicating yourself.