“EVE is dying.”
You’ve probably heard that phrase in one form or another throughout your time in EVE, whether you have been playing for only a fraction of the game's history or since beta. EVE has been mocked (or lauded, depending on who you ask) for having “the most difficult learning curve of any game”, a statement popularized by this image. The veterans of EVE know the game as one of the most in-depth and detailed MMO's out there and are reconciled to the fact that it can take years of accumulated knowledge to be competent in their chosen profession. A new player has none of that knowledge to back up their drive to grow or specialize. In a game where there are literally thousands of different items, skills, and ships to keep track of, the tutorials will never be sufficient.
Once upon a time, EVE threw you into a rookie ship with a civilian gun versus two hostile drones and said, in no uncertain terms, “good luck.” It was woefully insufficient to get a new player through his or her first week, much less convince them to buy the game. CCP has taken great strides in improving the tutorials; however, EVE's greatest teaching resource will and always shall be the other players. Where, then, are these knowledgeable veterans who come bearing gifts of ISK and wisdom?
The simplest answer to this question would be “playing the game.” When your alliance is at war with another alliance, another mining corporation is muscling in on your belts, or a shiny new wormhole just popped into existence in your system-of-choice... who has time for people who still can’t seem to find that “overview settings” tab? Of course, this is a generalization of the population as a whole. Many older players are friendly to new players and there are various corporations out there that offer 'new player help'. Some of these 'orientation corporations' are primarily composed of new players headed by a group of old players, while others are the inverse of that setup: a small core of new players surrounded by intelligent and helpful vets. What can the corporations do with new players, though?
THE NEWBIE'S TRUE VALUE
New players won’t fatten the corporation wallet with taxes, nor can they pilot a battleship in a massive fleet. All too often the corporations that deal with the “Real EVE” of alliance warfare, POSes, and gatecamps stick newbies in tackle frigates and tell them “blow up x number of times and then you’ll be ready for a battleship.” There are approved fittings and skill paths, places to go and places to avoid, things to do and things to shoot. It isn’t that these corporations want to force the new players to a proscribed curriculum: the beauty of an in-depth game like EVE is discovering things for yourself. But these corporations don’t have time to talk each individual new player through his or her way of playing EVE or to explain to them why fitting four small armor repairers isn’t as good as fitting just one of an appropriate size. When you lose at EVE, you lose hard: ships are gone for good, modules can be destroyed, cargo can be stolen, and sometimes your only compensation for losing a fight is getting away safely in your pod — if you are so lucky.
Every new player in EVE is playing for their own reasons; the most effective thing you can do for that new player is to help them realize what those reasons are. Don’t recruit a new player and say, “Hey, you love nullsec right? Don’t know what nullsec is? No problem, we’ll show you! Hope you like explosions.” When you contact a new player about your corporation, you shouldn't do it to get one more piece of cannon fodder for your PVP gang or another mining laser on an asteroid; you should do it for EVE. Who knows? If you help a new player find a corporation with people who do the things they want to do, you help ensure a well stocked shooting gallery in the future. Find what makes EVE fun for them and then tell them how to get started with it — that’s the role you should play when recruiting a new player.