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Multiplayer Game 'Eve Online' Cultivates a Most Devoted Following

Why Eve Online, a computer game from Iceland, has the most fanatical bunch of fee-paying players in the universe
Multiplayer Game 'Eve Online' Cultivates a Most Devoted Following
Courtesy CCP Games

Six men in their 30s and 40s have gathered in a trendy Reykjavík hotel bar. They’re trying to stave off the brutal mid-December cold while they wait for Death. He’s their friend and the leader of the 30,000 strong Legion of Death alliance. He’s also taking far too long primping in a room upstairs. “Can somebody call and get Death down here?” says one of the group. “We need to go.”

Death’s real name is Mikhail Romanchenko, a Russian immigrant who owns a glass installation business in New York City. His nickname comes from playing Eve Online, a sci-fi video game. Players pay about $15 for a month’s worth of game time, during which they assume aliases; earn, save, and spend virtual money; and build spacecraft and band together to fight epic space battles. They also become part of a mythology that rivals anything depicted in Star Wars or Star Trek. “It’s part game and part soap opera and part shadow economy,” says Ted Brown, a video game designer and Eve aficionado. “There’s basically a whole virtual society that has emerged inside of Eve.”