Like any MMORPG, EVE allows players to customize their characters and creates a framework by which they can explore a universe of thousands of star systems. In February 2013, the game's developer, Iceland-based CCP Games, announced that over 500,000 people had subscribed to the MMORPG.
And this weekend, months of tension, planning, propaganda and skirmishes between two of the largest factions - the CFC and TEST Alliance - came to a head. A battle erupted in the star system "6VDT." A full account of the battle, that reads like a correspondent's perspective on Operation Desert Storm, can be found on The Mittani.
Although these pages are normally accustomed to reporting on developments in spaceflight in real life, this virtual battle is notable for several reasons.
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Firstly, the developers of EVE Online are known for taking a step back from in-game policing (and if they are conceived as being heavy handed with their development of the game, riots ensue), allowing natural evolution of gameplay. The players, who are infamous for their often cut-throat strategies, have a huge degree of freedom as to the kind of explorer they want to become. Alliances, wars and politics inevitably bubble to the surface; a virtual representation of human nature. Corruption, piracy, even terrorism can be used to find vulnerabilities in the system so players can gain the upper hand. Many other MMORPGs control such behavior, but inside EVE Online, (almost) anything goes. Of course, more mainstream (and ‘legal') ways of making some cash can be pursued - such as trading, mining, bounty hunting and taking contracts.