Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
There are MMOs, and there's Eve Online. There are space games, and there is the space game which is a thriving, living universe populated by thousands of players and brought to life by their very real industry, political machination, and endless conflict. It might be the best online game ever made, but don't tell anyone I told you that.
Long ago I wrote a news article about a game with the most fantastically beautiful spaceships. I pined over it, wonder what it meant. The editor I was working under at the time told me the game would never come out. I went on to spend five years in the heart of this beast, and I regard not simply as one of the finest games I have played, but also as one of the defining experiences of my life. It changed me.
Eve Online is a single galaxy. One actual place, where events are permanent and real like in no other game. The scale of the ambition that made it happen was breathtaking, the realisation of that seems impossible. Trade, fight, explore, build, but never think you can avoid the intrigue and the political conflict that regular tears this galaxy apart. It is fascinating on almost every level, from the scale of it down to the meticulous ship-configuration possibilities. It's a game in which you can lose yourself. Indeed, it's a game in which you must lose yourself, if you are really to get the most out of it.
It's such a ludicrous, lumbering enormity of the game that I can't actually recommend it. I can only say that it is a singularity, and to miss out on it means missing out on one of the great PC games. Or perhaps one of the great PC events. When Eve is done, the world will be a dimmer place.
Just remember that you'll need friends. Because you will have enemies.