Header art by Empanda.
“Fair warning,” my friend told me when he invited me to an EVE chat channel he runs. “The people in here will give you a hard time when they find out you’re a goon.”
“I’m trying to hook you up with someone who would be a great source for the article you’re writing,” another friend told me a month or two later. Then there was a pause. “Uh, nevermind. He said he doesn’t want to talk to someone from the Imperium.”
“The reputation does precede us,” I admitted.
Most of my time in EVE, though, has been spent outside the Imperium. I joined EVE in May of 2017, did a whole lot of nothing for the summer, made a new character in September, and spent the next four months hanging out in high-sec, in a one-member corporation, mining and running the occasional mission. I never went to low-sec, except once when I bought an item there by mistake. I never went to null-sec at all. I didn’t even know who the Imperium was, or PanFam, or Legacy, or DRF, et cetera, et cetera. But I had heard of the goons. It was impossible not to. In every game they’ve ever played, goons have a well-deserved reputation for being the trolliest trolls who ever trolled. Even before I joined EVE Online, I’d heard of the legendary exploits of Goonfleet, and how they had basically joined the game for the sole purpose of griefing the other players.
However, I had also come to EVE with the goal of flying with my brother, and my lonely solo mining didn’t provide those kinds of opportunities, so I applied to join the Provi-bloc null-sec corporation in which he was a member. Acutely aware that I knew zero about null-sec life, or EVE in general besides “lock asteroid and press F1,” I googled “EVE Online news” and clicked the first result, which happened to be INN. After reading the site for a month or so, I figured I could use my writing and editing background to write about the game. I submitted an article, applied to be a staff writer, and the rest was history. When PL invaded Providence, I was perfectly placed to be INN’s eyes in theater.
When that first Provi article ran, my brother pulled me aside. “You’ll want to be careful that you don’t share anything that the corporation or alliance might consider opsec,” he told me. “I don’t know how they’ll react to finding out that you write for the goon news agency.”
Wait…what? I’m working for the goons?!
Sucked In Slowly
Like I said, I knew absolutely nothing about life outside of high-sec mining, and since I didn’t know that “Imperium” meant goons, I panicked a little when I discovered that I had basically signed up to work for the “big bads” of the EVE Online universe. I’ve been an actual goon, a member of the Something Awful forums, for almost fifteen years, and I knew that goons prided themselves on bringing chaos and insanity to every game they played, from Cyber Nations to World of Warcraft to War Thunder. The thought that I was now working for these people in EVE Online made me profoundly uncomfortable – would they attempt to exploit their relationship with me to gain intel about Provi-bloc? Was I now in bed with professional griefers?
The reality turned out to be nothing of the sort. All the writers and editors in the INN Discord channel were…well, profoundly normal. They all greeted me politely, and were incredibly patient with my stupid questions about EVE and my fundamental misunderstandings about the game. INN proved to be a welcoming environment, where I felt comfortable and accepted. The goons, it turned out, were pretty nice people.
This really messed with my internal narrative. Weren’t they supposed to be insufferable jerks? Weren’t they supposed to be the meanest and most chaotic people in New Eden? I’d seen hundreds of scam contracts offered in Jita and Amarr by goons. I’d been ganked in Providence by a pair of Goonswarm pilots. And yet my new friends – could I call them friends? – were nothing but helpful and kind to me, when it would have been very easy to dismiss me for the clueless idiot that I was.
Suddenly PL took over northern Providence, and our corporation had to flee to Immensea and then to Oasa. In the midst of all this chaos, my brother confided to me, “I think it’s time for us to join KarmaFleet.”
I was going to be a goon for real.
Drinking the Kool-Aid
Nothing about being a member of Goonswarm Federation has matched what I thought beforehand. In Oasa, our corporation was limited to a single system for ratting and mining; in GSF, anyone can go anywhere, anytime they want, and do anything they want. In Providence, we were constantly plagued by CTAs and (possibly joking, possibly not) threads of AWOX against anybody who didn’t drop what they were doing to come join a fleet that would putter around Providence, get no kills, and then disband. In GSF, there are fleets going almost constantly, but there is no pressure to join. In Jita, dozens of goons are waiting to scam you, con you, and steal your ISK. In GSF, so much as attempting to scam a fellow goon will get you instantly booted, no questions asked. Outside of Delve, the popular conception about goons is that they worship griefing, that they want nothing more than to see the universe burn. Inside of GSF, goons pride themselves on their economic output, on the fact that Delve out-produced The Forge by 25% during the last quarter – and the only people who have griefed me in the past month have been from PanFam and GOTG.
This is not to say that good content and good people are unavailable elsewhere in New Eden. I have gone on record with praise for my former corporation. But what surprised me was the disparity. The popular stereotype of goons – and even my interactions with them when I wasn’t a member – had absolutely zero relationship to my actual experience once I actually joined Goonswarm. I’ve made around a billion ISK a week since joining (not bad when you consider I can’t fly a Rorqual or a carrier yet), and there are numerous ISK-making opportunities, prominently featured on the GSF forums, of which I have simply not taken advantage. I’ve had an amazing time in the famous Saturday Night Swarm on several occasions. By the way, if you have admin privileges in Goonswarm Mumble, please do something about the fact that I’m muted by the server. I apologize for that time when my headphones came unplugged and the whole channel heard my wife and me discussing Harry Potter.
I spent an hour earlier this week watching the finals of the GSF FC tournament. (Asher Elias won, which is awesome, because I’ve flown with him in Saturday Night Swarms.) Eight FCs entered, and each was given five billion ISK to outfit their fleets and fight against each other (and presumably more after each round of the tournament to replenish losses). If the idea of a coalition spending tens of billions on a friendly fire tournament sounds crazy to you – well, I think the word you were looking for is “awesome.”
What’s On Offer
I will be extremely honest about this: my INN editor explicitly told me, “I would love to see an article about how you’re finding the Imperium now that you’re a member. It’s good for people to hear that we’re not the evil empire.” But I will also be extremely honest about this: it was very, very easy to write this article. I cannot recall the number of times over the past month when either my brother or I said, “I’m so glad we joined KarmaFleet.” I even spent real-life money on a KarmaBee t-shirt. (If you’re not an Imperium pilot, does your coalition have personalized merchandise?)
I feel comfortable and at ease in EVE in a way that I haven’t since joining the game. I have jump clones in several systems around New Eden in case I want to PvP, and I have other clones around in case I want to PvE. My wallet balance won’t stop going up, my zkillboard is looking better every week, and I’m making new friends every day. Again, I’ll be honest: with over 8000 pilots in KarmaFleet alone, never mind the rest of GSF, it can be difficult to know people on a first-name basis, but it’s also not impossible. If you want to make ludicrous amounts of ISK in anonymity, GSF is your jam. If you want to meet new friends by name, GSF is also your jam. It all depends what you want to get out of your experience.
The most fundamental thing about the goon presence in New Eden is that it has evolved. In Cyber Nations (an online browser game), the goon presence began as simple griefing, but evolved to become one of the largest and most influential alliances in the game. In World of Warcraft, on the private Emerald Dream server, the goon guild <lets get weird> evolved to become one of the most significant raiding presences on the whole server, responsible for a number of first kills of bosses. Goons may have entered EVE Online under the pretext of ruining the whole experience for others in the name of lulz, but that is no longer what the whole enterprise is about. Now there is incredible wealth being generated, and being shared with whoever wants to participate. There are fleets going out daily, both fighting strategic actions and goofing around for fun.
Maybe you’re where I was in November of 2017: hungry for more content, longing for more money, but with no knowledge and no clue where to start. Guess what? The Imperium has an entire in-game chat channel where “little bees” can ask any question they want and get answers with no ridicule. Maybe you’re a seasoned EVE veteran who wants to take her PvP experience to the next level. Guess what? There are twelve or fifteen fleets every day you can join, and even training classes that will help you become an FC if you want.
There are more than thirty thousand pilots in Goonswarm Federation. Whatever you love, whatever you want to do in EVE Online, I can pretty much guarantee you that GSF does more of it, and does it better, than you ever dreamed possible.
Some people will read this and think I’m trying to convince them goons are decent people and GSF is a great alliance. That is, in fact, not my goal at all. I’m not trying to convince anybody of anything. All I’m doing is telling facts, and it’s up to you whether you believe them.
If you’re unhappy in EVE and you want more content – more ratting, more mining, more fleets, more industry – Goonswarm Federation can be your place. If you’re a corporation that has been suddenly thrust from its old home and you’re longing for some competent leadership for a change, Goonswarm Federation can be your place. And if you really want better content but you’re skeptical of goons as human beings – remember that three months ago I was horrified at the thought of merely writing for the goons – then let me gently challenge that opinion. Maybe, just maybe, your stereotype doesn’t correspond to reality.
I certainly found that my own mental stereotype didn’t correspond to reality. I’m happy in KarmaFleet, and I hope you’re happy too, wherever you are in EVE. If you’re not, though, there’s plenty of room for you in Goonswarm Federation.