I think it is safe to say I have been among the most neutral players in EVE since the servers booted up. Some might point to Chribba, but I was actually already trading on the market and booting up meta-markets on the forum when Chribba was still in Swea Rike(n).
I will not be taking us down the old history road; today, I want to tell you all how I became a goon. Don’t panic, you are not going to see me flying around with a bee logo shooting stuff, I have not joined Goonswarm Federation or any associates, and I am not leaving my own corp which has been around since May 2003(n). Granted, I don’t know yet if I am going to get scammed out of all my wealth, or if I will be booted from INN and get screamed at on the meta show, for representing the worst carebear scum, the new unassailable wealth in EVE. The trader classes who must be stopped.
This all started way back in the beginning of last year. I had recently come back from one of my now many EVE breaks and was manically starting up new projects, while trying to figure out what I wanted to do in EVE, this time around. I was booting up that old brand eve-guardian(n), and together with Rhivre and some old EVE friends as well as some new ones, I got down to business and got busy. Warning, booting up a project like that is tough shit. We got into the whole election season, and did interviews, and posted them on the site. I started branching into some streaming and stumbled upon Matterall. Here I should mention that when I came back, I decided I needed to catch up with everything that had happened, so I found all the main sources of information and all the eve related shows, the Metashow(n), Prosper(n), Delone wolf(n), and all the CCP coverage(n), and just binged them ALL. Yes, I watched all of it one episode at the time while working on my projects. I was especially impressed at the minimal required deliverable approach that the Metashow had. Watching Nystrik, and Mittens just jump in and get something out the door(n), was inspirational to me at the point I was at.
On a personal level as an EVE player, I was following the actual drama around the CSM election, and as is often the case, I was extremely disappointed at the lack of candidates that seemed to be interested in the economic system and the overall ecosystem of EVE online. Naturally, I was listening to all the CSM watch podcasts as well as working through all the shows mentioned above, and I stumbled upon the Aryth interview(n). I kind of knew who Aryth was, and I was kind of ignoring most of the Grr Goons hatred which always rears its head when Goons stage their candidates. Not exactly Mynnna flashbacks(n), but it was very similar. I was very happy to see Goons putting a candidate up that not only had knowledge about the economy but also (humbly may I say) might have even more understanding about these things than me. I started getting my hopes up for huge changes and improvements to EVE. This was the first drop from the vitriolic groups outside the Imperium into my glass.
I should add to this, that one of the first interviews I did was with Kyle Aparthos, who is now on the EVE NERDS PLAY D&D(n) show, that I also binged on, but initially my interest came from him being one of the more neutral candidates I could find if you do not count the high sec more solo oriented and carebear politicals. I really liked his platform, I found him really open-minded and approachable. So we did an interview with him, and I put him on my mental top 5 of candidates. Kyle was a former TMC editor, and Space Monkey Alliance member, so naturally there was more to the Grr Goons vitriol dripping. A second drop was added.
Learning new tools
In all my activity I naturally had to catch up with all the EVE communication tools, and I had started using slack. I signed up for tweetfleet slack and got friendly with people. I added my SCC-lounge brand(n)(n) on there with the help of Steve Ronuken, who I have always liked in the past. This was where I found all the CSM candidates for our interviews, and I very much liked the idea of a common live chat platform for all of EVE. I should mention that I have always disliked Reddit, but up to this point it was based mostly on UI and signal to noise issues. I am not much of a fan of twitter either, though I am getting acclimatised to that these days. Now I was on slack, and I was getting my hands dirty in many channels. I had to go into the CSM channel to find the candidates for my interviews, and here I got some more poison.
The first drops were when I was trying to give my personal predictions of the election results. I claimed that Kyle, even though he was a low priority candidate would make it onto the CSM, because of his popularity outside the Imperium block. For that, I was harassed and ridiculed by the Judge, as being unrealistic and a dreamer, and not understanding bloc politics. According to him, there was next to no chance that was ever going to happen. The Judge had some personal skin in that game, and I am sure most people can find the details on that themselves. I brushed off the attacks, but the poison had already made an impact. I was, however, to get a few more drops from the Slack platform.
I am an old school IRC guy, and I was using that platform back when some of the current summer children were still being literally spoon fed. So I was naturally using many of the features from back then, that was present in the Slack software. Especially the tab completion was a favourite of mine, I always loved that way of auto finish writing people’s names, and addressing people directly this way. In old IRC ofc there would at most be a colour code consequence from this, in most cases, but here in Slack there was a full ping feature, and to my surprise people saw this feature as annoying and abusive when used more than in the first attention grabbing.
So I had a few episodes and I believe one or two warnings for using the ping via autocomplete a bit too much. “When in Rome” as they say, and I conformed and adapted as best I could. Admittedly muscle memory is hard to erase, so I did trigger a few people with this and apologised when needed. This was merely a personal hurt feels episode, but what followed was to bring more of the poison.
I had already seen The Mittani do his occasional burst into the room in his best Cosmo Kramer impersonation(n), making sure everyone is listening. He usually goes on to some activity in chat, that I have come to define as Crash Bandicooting(n), because the flinging arms reminds me of that lovely old PS game. Whatever people might think, I always found that funny to follow, and I even partook in it a few times, trying to poke a trolly remark at Mittens from time to time.
I have to remind the readers, that at this point I was still very much neutral, and had a lot of prejudices against goons and was not sure about Mittens personality. When people keep pointing and screaming sociopath often enough, you start doubting your own judgement. In any case, I was still a little prone to bandwagon with the Mittani hecklers, but what happened next tipped me away from this.
The slack moderation team jumped down from a great height, on the same tab to complete ping usage I had been warned about, on Mittens head. He had been using the feature a LOT, and being already in Crash Bandicoot mode, it got interpreted as extremely trolly and intentionally abusive.
In chat Mittens tried to apologize, and to me, it sounded genuine, because he was pretty much saying something similar to what I had said when I was corrected. Pointing out the difference in culture and habits of using features. I even said so in his defense, only a few minutes after I had been trying to troll Mittens in the CSM channel myself. As far as I can recall he got a warning that further abuse would get him banned, I forget the actual conclusion. My personal view, however, was that it was overreacting and bringing the Hatgons opinions into the moderation team. Hereby we got another drop of toxin and challenge to any of the outsiders echo chamber convictions, I still held.
If the timelines in this piece gets a little jumbled its because a lot of these events happened at the same time, and overlapped a lot. So if anything is out of order it’s reflecting my mental map of the events and the reasoning more than the actual chronological events.
While all of this was happening, the war was brewing and starting to kick off. The air was thick with propaganda and I was trying to not let it bother me too much. I am supposedly neutral and all that. “War is my business and business is good”(n) was the effect for me personally, though I hardly had any time to actually work the markets with all the things I was getting involved with. A huge thing from CCP was about to launch and we did a lot of eve-guardian coverage of the Citadels expansion(n). It was this that got me in contact with Matterall. One of the changes with the expansion was the increase in broker fees, and these led to the now famous Wall of Plex(n), and I organised getting Rhivre on the Talking In Stations show to comment on the story(n). Around this time I was doing my own dabbling on creating video content, and had gotten friendly with Lockefox.
Suffice it to say I was getting very passionate about the grander meta and the higher levels of content creation. I suggested TiS get on Discord(n), and ended up helping out a lot with minor things and chatting a lot with Matterall. This pulled me more and more away from my personal projects, that already suffered from being very understaffed. I would say that TiS saved me from a burnout break, and I was very lucky to find such an inspiring group as the one surrounding TiS, and Matterall(n). I ended up being a bit of a regular or returning panelist, and in the same period INN took on Rhivre as a writer. That kinda closed the book on the eve-guardian and I focused more on participation than creation. In this period I got only small doses of vitriol, and mostly regarding the topic of promotion and Reddit brigading, and the occasional hateful comments in twitch chats.
I was never a big fan of gambling. To interject myself, I was never a fan of badly organised business plans, and intentional scams in the meta-markets. Being an old MD forum participant, I never liked it when scam IPO mingled with good faith BPs. From this position, I already disliked the IWI and new Casino overlords, especially because they stunk of used cars salesmen from day one. I never had any issues with well-run projects like EOH poker, BIG lottery, or EVE bet, up until it was unveiled I even had ok feelings about Somer Blink, since I found it was just a natural step above things like BIG, and it did not overtly look questionable. This was when I decided to submit my first article to INN. I really wanted to give a neutral position to the now hot brewing war narrative. The thing that triggered me to do this was when another drop of vitriol had hit me.
This time to my shock it was CCP that had opted to run with the “Good guys narrative and naming”(n), thus at least indirectly choosing sides in the player-driven war. I was not yet fully fugued with the huffpuff poison, so I just had a major issue with the crappy naming. I was still mostly neutral, but now with a lot more subtle ties to INN, basically I really prefered the Casino Wars name, since it covered the topic of why casinos are, if not bad, then at least very risky for the in-game ecosystem and wealth distribution. I won’t take you down the rabbit-hole of details, but just let you have the link to the original draft of the article. (Leveraged Risk)
This was when things started shifting a little bit for me. I had a few articles submitted for review with INN, and Rhivre had joined as a fully staffed writer and later editor. My articles did not get published and like a little kid, I threw my toys of out the pram. I really wanted to rage at the narrative of the war, and in the hustle and bustle, I felt overlooked and ignored. Granted, who wants to discuss deep ecosystem issues and economy, when the propaganda machine is at spinmaster 3000 levels. Seeing how the money printers were winning and to my opinion destroying the game, made me go on a rage break. I took a recuperation vacation in Black Desert Online and ground myself to Master levels in the life crafts over there and chilling watching a different pace of Twitch streamers.
In all honesty, I was close to going on a VERY long break, I was pissed at CCP and EVE in general for all of the above. The poison and my personal feelings being hurt had hit HARD. Then the HUGE announcement came out and CCP turned the tables and closed the gambling down for Good. It was almost a prohibition crack down narrative, and I was elated about this. Finally, Seagull stepped up and said NO MORE. The theories on why CCP did this are many, and I don’t really care who is right or wrong. Personally, I think they realised it had gone too far and had to be stopped, not only for the legal issues in the real world but even more so the in-game issues that I had strong feelings about myself. This was to kick off the SMUG level 9000, and the gloating has still not fully cooled down to this day.
A change of heart
I was now reinvigorated about EVE and came rushing back. I plexed back up and asked Rhivre to give me a bit of debriefing of what I had missed while sulking. I got comfortably back in the seat and started hitting up all the lovely people again. I now found myself being totally cured of the Hat Gons ideas, and when anyone even talked about Goons and INN I felt personally offended now. I was still on the outside and only by affiliation connected to INN. I felt like a spy that had been burned by “my own” and needed a new home, so I decided to get back to writing a few submissions and send them to INN. I really did not feel like restarting all my own project, like the eve-guardian. That would have to wait until some unknown future. So I got back on TiS, and with the big moving day project inside INN, I had a chance to see the big machine moving and metamorphosing into what it is becoming now.
One of the first things I got to work on for INN was the Live EVE Vegas coverage with Matterall(n), and this was really exciting and, to me, very novel and boundary pushing. It was exactly the kind of things I love to do in EVE. My recap of this was to be my first INN published article and I got taken on as full staff member(n). I now got to see a lot more of the inside, and it was nothing like what people believe. The people are really chilled and extremely helpful. The mere joy of not having to lift everything alone was overwhelming. When they say Goons organisation is good, they are not kidding. Sure they are all still hopeless amateurs, and borderline arsehats, but as a people, that is exactly like the rest of EVE online’s population. They did not have fangs and do not, at least to my current knowledge, draw pentagrams on the floors worshipping Satan(n).
I had not seen this coming. If you had asked me a year or so ago if I would ever join Goons, I would have laughed and said: “Never in a million years”. I guess some things are impossible to predict, and here I am. I do not yet fly around shooting other players in the face, or scam them. The first I have actually never gotten around to doing in EVE, and the latter I really dont need to do. There are better ways of making ISK than cheating, stealing, scamming or running gambling sites. I have been in this, well you could say uninformed or contractual state, for around 2 months. So I guess I am still only a pupae or larvae state, but one thing is clear already if you can live under accountability and like being in a meritocracy, it’s not the worst place to be. I hope I can still keep my connections to the rest of the EVE community, and especially all my friends outside of the bees. I suspect there might be a course or a workshop in here that teach how to tank “insecticides”.