Eve Online is commonly referred to as a “Sandbox” MMO. If you are not sure what a “Sandbox” MMO is, think of what a little kid does in a sandbox. Basically he does anything his little heart desires with his little Tonka trucks.
I think, however, the Eve Online is better compared to a Public Pool. On one side you have the shallow end of the pool. We can rightly refer to this as “Hi-sec”, because it is pretty easy to stay out of trouble there. The lifeguards often focus their attention there because that is where the new and least strong swimmers hang out. It is also a great place to figure out how to do the things you want to do.
On the other side you have the deep section. Just like in a public pool, there are more experienced people there and a lot of horseplay and action going on. Yet, it’s not all roses. More skilled or bigger people can push you out of the way without consequence from the lifeguard (we’re all supposed to share, right?), and if you get in trouble you have to rely much more on your own survival skills as you may be dead long before the lifeguard sees you. But at the same time, the more mature groups tend to develop rules that work well with those who can handle sharing (i.e. NAPs).
Of course, we can’t leave out the middle. The middle of the pool is a lot like low-sec. You are constantly being assaulted by people trying to step up from the kiddie side of the pool, as well as those being pushed out of the deep end by the local jocks. Add to that your footing isn’t always solid as one push can either throw you back into the kiddie pool, where you embarrassingly stand up.. far too tall to enjoy the water.. or into the deep end, where your skills aren’t quite up to the task of swimming against strong and aggressive neighbors.
Lastly, but not least, you have the pool deck. This location aptly fits wormhole space. When you are on the pool deck, you aren’t where everyone else is. You can do whatever you want, but the most dangerous parts are the areas where you try to get back into the pool. While it’s true that you can have fun on the pool deck, it still isn’t the same type of fun that can be had in the pool. Plus, you also have to contend with different physics (i.e. with no water to bouy you, you weigh more) in order to enjoy yourself.
That is why Eve Online isn’t a Sandbox.. its a Public Pool.
Oh.. and please do piss on it.