“Matterall…blink twice if you need help” had me in stitches for a good part of the afternoon after it was posted on r/eve.
This comment was just one of an avalanche of responses to our article about IWANTISK’s potentially complicated relationship to law and the game. That article racked up an impressive view count, surpassing 500 comments. What was interesting was the unusually high ratio of comments per views. It seemed everyone had an opinion, and the resulting level of engagement was great.
At the same time, leaked TMC logs showed me informing our editorial staff of the official name that TMC will use for the war, as handed down “from above.” Like most such internet posts, it was cherry-picked for effect. While it is true that the official name was chosen by TMC management, the leaked logs failed to show the larger context of the considerable conversation among TMC editorial staff on that matter. So people read into it and responded accordingly.
That led to some readers lamenting my demise. It was like standing near the crowd of mourners at my own funeral while looking down at the empty grave and wondering, “Who died?”
It’s actually a tiny bit depressing to watch the evolution…you can see his spirit being crushed, probably by directives such as the one about what to call the war. – Jester (aka Ripard Teg)
It really saddens me honestly. I have a lot of respect for Matteral…It’s just unfortunate to see someone I consider an excellent eve contributor and overall great representative of EVE be led astray by the people up top over there. – Progodlegend
But here’s the thing. I’m not dead yet. At least, I don’t feel dead. In fact, I feel very much alive and very much engaged in the challenge that is TMC.
Bias exists everywhere in the EVE political landscape. There is no escaping it and often no changing it. As explained by Andrew Groen in an interview, his Empires of EVE history book had to end long before current events because the closer you get to today, the more likely people are to protect their interests, especially their image. The battle for the history of the war is as hot as the war itself.
EVE works on a tribal level. You practically hate the other side until you see them wearing an EVE shirt in public. Then you want to hug them because now they have been identified as part of your larger tribe, EVE players. This phenomenon occurs because humans are tribal by nature. Our lizard brain is driven by base needs first, like food, shelter, and breathing. Those don’t exist in EVE so we don’t have to worry about those. Next we seek to satisfy our primal needs: the need to find our place in the pack, the need to fight for territory, and the need to mate. EVE is a safe simulator for that search. (Well, except for the mating part. Checking out the shaders on a female avatar will have to do.)
When it comes to news reporting, we reporters exist in a tribal environment, too. Within that environment we tend to look at things from a different perspective than those firmly rooted in one side of a conflict or the other. In our efforts to engage with and be engaging about both sides, we must perfect the ability to move to the left and then immediately move to the right in counterpoint. Individual movements may appear to favor one side over another. But over time, as we make small moves left and right to present both sides of a conflict, our path will – if we’ve done our jobs well – be seen as straighter and more centered, especially when seen from the distance that passing time affords us. Years from now the line TMC blazed will be straight down the middle, even if it looks zig zagged now.
When an article about EVE hits our front page, it is there because in my view as EVE Bureau Chief it presents interesting information in an interesting way. My responsibility is to ensure our audience of a quality read regardless of which bias or perspective informs that content. We will publish high-quality, well-written articles from any perspective. That includes editorials catering to Imperium member interests from The Mittani who is spending all of his time these days focused on the war. It also includes opposing viewpoints or insights such as Eep’s editorial about IWANTIKS’s declaration of war on the Goonswarm. And it is the reason that you will be seeing more reports from Lemba, whom we are keeping on because he is a quality reporter (even though he betrayed the Imperium). That should tell you something about our intent to present balanced content to our readers.
We may have an agenda, but we don’t hide it. It’s visible right up at the top left of this page: the Imperium eagle. That’s not a sponsorship logo, nor is this a CCP-endorsed aggregator of EVE Online news. This is an Imperium-centric site. Our readers, Imperium or otherwise, may not agree with what they read here, but our goal – my goal – is to ensure that you get a worthwhile experience from spending your time here. Goals, of course, are targets. We may not always hit them but we will keep aiming for them.
My in-game tribe is DICE in NCdot, where I delight in throwing spears at The Mittani’s people. On one of my first days at TMC, I apologized to editor Arrendis for shooting his triage carrier the night before, but I said I liked reading his articles. (He said it was a suicide triage – aren’t they all?) Although we come from different tribes and different sides in-game, both Arrendis and I are part of the TMC tribe, along with many other hard-working and creative people from all walks of life in EVE and gaming.
The TMC tribe’s mission is to produce material for the Imperium members, not just those who play EVE but also those who play other games. Most Imperium members don’t want to be constantly told they are pretty, or amazing, or the best that ever was. They want well-written news, unvarnished and factual, from all sides. The diversity of our editorial staff’s experience and interests in EVE and other games is what allows us to provide that kind of content.
Empathy versus Tribalism
Most readers of meta-EVE news sites are curious about conflict. The game alone is not enough after a while. They need to blow a ship up, kill the pod, then run to the internet to read and talk about it. It’s like chanting around a fire after a hunt.
Tribalism may ultimately kill us all in the real world without empathy to counter it. If you have empathy for an enemy, you can find common ground on which to cultivate peace. Without it, you have generational war. Peace in the real world is typically a noble goal. In EVE, however, peace is a dirty word. Players recoil from it like vampires do from sunlight. Focused on the “us vs. them”, tribal drum-beating is often so loud it drowns out any whisper of empathy.
As EVE players, we’re very tuned in to who won and who lost. Locking and firing on another ship is not the best part of PvP; watching it go up in flames is. Providing a diverse selection of market goods isn’t the best part of trading; cornering the market and making a killing is.
Point scoring is like crack. How many times do you check the killboard after a fight? How often do you log in to update your market orders? How many times have you snuck a shot in on a friendly capital ship just to put more points on the board? Winning matters, both in and out of the game. It is a hallmark of tribalism and manifests in many forms. That cup overflows and spills into the meta, as in this example where a player is delighted to thwart TMC’s advertising cents by cutting and pasting our reporter’s work elsewhere.
Massive thanks to OP for using archive.is to link to. I’ve got the TMC site pointing to local host in /etc/hosts so I never accidentally give them even a single click. 🙂 – alt, on r/eve
The current war has pitched EVE into a tribal fever which is spreading across forums, news sites, and social media. That fever is creating news that dominates conversations wherever people talk about EVE and their tribes. As a news site, the events of the day concern us and so our coverage now focuses on war.
Yet, regardless of how current, balanced, or well-written our content, TMC will always be damned for doing one thing and equally damned for doing exactly the opposite thing. The IWI articles demonstrate that to some degree (although many commenters gave credit where due, which was appreciated). In such an environment, the editorial staff must set aside personal reactions and look for truths that can inform our way forward. This isn’t always easy, but it is an important part of professionalism in news reporting that we embrace. Some readers may believe that; others will not. The decision to be tribal or be empathetic is always a choice whether one is a reader, writer, or editor.
A single blink means, “I’m ok here, thanks!”, right?
Let me wrap up by saying that TMC has one of the most professional EVE-related environments I’ve ever seen. People are nice, funny, smart, and reliable. The best part is that there is very little ego on display, even with quite a few EVE celebs in the mix (I’d love to mention names but the list is very long). Everyone talks to everyone else on a level playing field and work gets done collaboratively, shoulder to shoulder. Attitudes are positive and can-do. Despite the challenges that sometimes come to us from our readers (and even our staff from time to time), I can say without reservation that I am enjoying my work here. It is a truly engaging, interesting, and fulfilling thing to be a part of TMC.
And now, excuse me. I have to ride into VFK. I am a bit late. I was supposed to be there in 2013.