I'm 23, from the UK, and the majority of the gaming world thinks I'm crazy. Most of those think it because I'm a PC Gamer, the rest are normally PC gamers themselves but say the same as soon as I mention that I play EVE Online, AKA "Spreadsheets in Space". Fellow EVE players on the other hand hate me because I play other games :P
I've been playing EVE for about 3 years now, and I think the title is fairly accurate, even if it doesn't make a lot of sense. For those who don't know, EVE Online is a pretty unique MMO in a number of ways. All the players are on one single server thanks to some fancy tech. It's fairly common to see upwards of 50,000 players online on a Sunday evening, and I believe the peak concurrent user record is currently somewhere over 60,000. Your character is constantly learning skills, even while you're offline, and there's no levelling up in the traditional RPG sense. You just set the skill in training, and then after a while it finishes even if you've been offline the entire time. It's set in space, and looks amazing. So it's a long way from your average MMO, and I think that's probably a fairly large contributing factor to the notorious learning curve.
A lot of people are understandably put off by the start of the game. It's an extremely complex sandbox, and the tutorial is a long way from where it really should be in terms of guidance. There are some useful guides available, and an EVEWiki started up recently and is already filled with with a lot of good info. Even so, it is more than a little overwhelming, and unless you have a friend who already plays or are lucky enough to meet some friendly people in the first few days, it's likely you'll move on.
So if you you do stick with it, what is that makes you stay? Well, it's that same complexity that keeps you there. You'll never see all of EVE, and you're free to choose your own path. You can be a harmless industrialist who builds things to sell, or you can be a pirate who preys upon the weak, stealing from or ransoming them for your profit, or you can be somewhere in-between. You can mine asteroids for the ore within, or you can run combat missions for agents and hunt down NPCs. Then there's exploration sites, wormholes and those giant player alliance wars you may have heard of, involving thousands of pilots. There's so many things to see and do in the game, there's almost certainly going to be something you'll enjoy in there.
So it's a giant sandpit, and like any sandpit, there is inevitably cat shit in there somewhere. For EVE, they're rather numerous and come in the form of bugs. So. Many. Bugs. A lot of them are quite fundamental to the game and can cause a lot of frustration, and CCP have never really shown much interest in fixing them- in fact, they recently infamously said it'd be 18 months before they began working on the bug fixes in earnest, which understandably upset a lot of people, which culminated in an epic thread on the official forums when CCP asked pilots to vote for EVE in the European game awards, and it rapidly turned into a massive joke of people essentially saying things like 'I'll vote in 18 months' or 'fix the damn game first'.
Of course, you arenít the only one in this giant cat shit infested sandpit, and other players are always figuring out new ways to steal, scam, kill, and very occasionally help each other. It's an extremely cut-throat universe out there for the most, where espionage is commonplace, scams are widespread and sometimes large enough to make the news, and full blown wars between alliances of thousands of players are just another day at the office. Some people really enjoy that competitiveness, HTFU and Adapt or Die are some of the more popular sayings, while others are upset that the playing field isn't level. Other players are more helpful although they're harder to come by.
In a lot of ways, it's a great example of the difference between satisfaction and fun. It won't always be fun, although it certainly has its moments, but it is extremely satisfying when you achieve something like your first billion isk within in the game, simply because you know you've put the effort in, and are getting your reward for that effort. Even so, in its current state, I can't recommend the game to 90% of the people I know, between the bugs and the difficulty of starting, it's just not a great game right now, which leaves the hopes of so many crushed and lifeless, like crisps under bison... I don't like to end on a down note, here's a song. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tv4zWQz_Hpk#t=0m38s