Header art by Elthar Nox
The Top Ten list here begins a new series. From time to time, on an irregular basis, we’ll publish a Top Ten list. This is open to other writers as well. Feel free to create your own Top Ten on some aspect of EVE and submit it for possible publication.
Here, then, is my Top Ten list regarding what the Imperium must learn from Beeitnam (so far).
10. You learn more from failure than from success
I’m putting this in 10th only because it sets up all the other things Imperium should learn. Really, this should be number 1. When I look back on my own intense learning and growing experiences, they have always come after some personal failure, as I was forced to reflect on what I had done poorly. Conversely, when things are going well, I rarely ponder how it could have been improved and I sit back sometimes in a posture of self-congratulation. That latter attitude can lead to a future debacle. The Imperium is coming off a fantastic and well-earned victory. But will leadership and line members alike fail to learn any lessons from what they could have done differently or better?
I’ve been gratified to read several comments on INN stories, suggesting that the Imperium should not repeat the “extermination” rhetoric as it pushes the “TEST is next” narrative. That’s the kind of self-analysis in which we should engage. If the Imperium actually plans to “exterminate” TEST, we have become what we have hated for 13 months. Also a good sign was the Meta Show from August 14, in which Brisc and The Mittani talked about lessons learned. While most of the lessons had to do with what PAPI should learn, they did discuss the importance of a shared culture (56.00). Clearly, that aspect of the Imperium was vital during the war and should continue to be strengthened and fostered.
9. Another cultural revolution
Speaking of culture, the Imperium has done work to change their culture from the early days of Goons to something that resembles a Fortune 500 company in organization and planning. But I think the Imperium should set more goals that focus on some areas of EVE that traditionally are problematic.
First, I’d like to see the Imperium be the place that women EVE gamers see as the best spot to let their talents shine. I wish we had more women FCs in EVE in general and the Imperium should work to make it so. But that means continuing to establish a culture that affirms women gamers while giving the boot to misogynistic comments in forums, fleets, etc. Second, the Imperium should be even more conducive to new players. I know that Karmafleet is establishing a reputation for this, but it’s less universally known than Brave’s reputation as being newbie-friendly. Third, the Imperium should make sure it doesn’t foster stereotypes about ethnicity and gaming. In their past, Goons fought with Russian alliances, whereas most of EVE’s alliances shunned them and made derogatory comments. The Chinese now should look to the Imperium as a place where Asian stereotypes have no place.
8. Stop ad hominem attacks and name-calling
Imperium people need to take a look at themselves. From top leadership to commenters on INN, we see a lot of name-calling, “funny” nick-names, etc. that are, at root, ad hominem attacks. Now, I know some of you might be tempted to jump in the comments section with “These people don’t deserve respect” or “You should have heard what they said to us in local.” Setting Imperium culture by what others have done to you is just a mindless form of tribalism. You can blow up someone’s spaceship without dissing them as people. In print and other media, Imperium members should argue with people’s ideas rather than resorting to name-calling and ad hominem attacks. Use people’s chosen avatar name, not some derogatory nick-name that derides and belittles.
7. Vengeance must have limitations
I worried about this one months ago when I wrote my article entitled “The Point of No Return.” I thought the rhetoric in this war had grown so toxic that no matter which side won, the game we love would be damaged, perhaps beyond repair. Now Imperium has won and will enact retribution, and I support those moves – up to a point.
We have already seen the concurrent player number drop in half since last January and certainly many former PAPI players will now be discouraged and might be inclined to quit. On the Meta Show of August 14, Brisc put up a graph showing the dropping numbers in former PAPI alliances. That should give us some pause. These players face some humiliation due to their failed dreams, but they also have to face a future with angry bees a-buzzing. Don’t get me wrong. They deserve it and I hope to be in some of those retribution fleets, but we must set certain limitations on our quest for vengeance. Imperium must do what PAPI did NOT do and actually care about the game as a whole.
6. M2 (the aftermath)
After M2-XFE, during the hellcamp, Imperium morale was soaring to the heavens, because we had dozens of PAPI supers and titans trapped. But we also sold that move as something we could sustain almost indefinitely. I was shocked, then, when the Imperium just abandoned the hellcamp after 62 days and PAPI uncorked all their materiel. I felt I had been deceived. The Imperium rhetoric had been that we could sustain the hellcamp virtually forever, as long as Imperium will lasted, but that wasn’t the case.
Game mechanics and PAPI moves made the camp a finite joy which came crashing down for those, like me, who didn’t understand the mechanics well enough to know that the camp’s days were always numbered. So, I don’t blame the mechanics for the morale loss I suffered. I blame my own people for not making it clear that the trapped titans would eventually get freed. Leadership should remember that not all line members know the game as well as veterans do.
5. Prepare for the next invasion
Goons, and by extension the entire Imperium, have been the focus of ire in EVE for a very long time. This latest attempt to wipe out Goons is at least the third such attempt. For reasons that tend to baffle Imperium line members, most other nullsec players see the Imperium as a toxic bunch deserving of extinction. I don’t see that changing after this most recent war – quite the opposite. We not only need to rebuild our space more intelligently, and perhaps less ostentatiously, but we also need to position ourselves for the “hearts and minds” war that will also eventually arrive yet again.
4. Plan for the next attackers to be less terrible
One of the common elements of Imperium-related media has been how terrible PAPI leadership was during this war. Hey, I’m not countering that; indeed, I piled on my own share of stories with that theme. But what happens next time if Imperium faces another existential crisis and the opponents have good and united leadership? What if M2- had not happened? What if the former PAPI alliances find leaders willing and able to pay the iron price? What if they learn the lessons from this war? What if they stop paying attention to the killboard and pay attention to succeeding in objectives?
3. Kool-aid anyone?
Imperium media tends to be a bit of an echo-chamber. That’s true for virtually every organization and isn’t, therefore, a straight-up condemnation. But we should try listening more critically and apply the same critical skills to articles that support our point of view as those that support other views. INN has some great writers and really good commenters. The quality of thought, and writing, has made me proud, at times, to be a Goon.
But Goons can pile on anything that runs counter to the mainline “truth” of our opinion. I’ve been on two juries, so have observed several prosecutors and defense attorneys at work. They were nothing compared to the quibblers that regularly write here. If someone submits something that runs counter to “our” narrative, we look for the smallest mistake, the slightest error, and magnify it, claiming the writer is a lying shyster. On the other hand, when a writer who supports our narrative fails to backup claims, uses shoddy logic, even writes somewhat incoherently, we bring out the “truthiness” comments.
I’ll use myself as an example, because I don’t want to embarrass anyone but myself. I wrote a story recently in which I suggested both Vily and Gobbins had made terrible rhetorical mistakes. I linked to the Polygon article to support my point about Vily. But try as I might (and I tried for a long time), I could not find the link to support my point about Gobbins getting fixated on the 40 faction fortizars. Did I dare run the story without having my “evidence” in place? Sure did. And not one of the commenters cried foul and that I didn’t back up that claim with any evidence whatsoever. Why? Because my main point fit in with our preconception.
2. We are more exclusive than we think we are
I really enjoy reading the affirming stories of line members who have had excellent experiences in the Imperium. They are very uplifting and at times very moving. To hear how people have found comradeship here online, that helps to mitigate some of the stuff they have been going through, always lifts my spirits and makes me proud. I want us to generate a lot more such stories, by treating people well. But we should also recognize that not everyone’s story has gone along that affirming flight path. Some have tried to join our ranks, only to be rebuffed. We have tended to make it sound like we take all applicants and that people can easily sign up and they will soon be a part of our organization. That’s not the full story.
Here’s my story, which I tell because I don’t want to reveal details about other people’s stories. I had played EVE back in 2018 and faded out. I had been in Karmafleet and had really enjoyed it. I also had written and edited for INN back in the heady days of 2018. So, when I read on gaming sites that a massive war had started, I wanted to rejoin Imperium, because they seemed in need of help. I contacted INN and was immediately welcomed back as a writer and editor. I was touched by that. Kudos to our editor-in-chief, who didn’t hold it against me that I had quit back in 2018. I began writing and editing stories right away.
I also applied to get back into KarmaFleet. This was before the Horn of Goondor. I expected to have some trouble: I was joining during time of war, after all. But week after week passed and I got no word whatsoever. I began to feel weird about it. I was writing stories from an Imperium perspective, while not actually being in the Imperium. I expected to be “outed” at any time. After five or six weeks, I went through some back channels, had people vouch for me, tried to see what the holdup was. Eventually, after a couple weeks of this back-channeling, I was reinstated back into Karma. So, I got back in, but the road was neither smooth nor quick. Had I not been writing and editing for INN, maybe I wouldn’t have gotten back in at all.
For every story like mine, there could be dozens of people who wanted to fight PAPI and couldn’t. If they wanted to play EVE in null, they may have ended up joining PAPI, some because that was one of the only options left. So, let’s not pretend that everyone had a choice regarding which side they were on in this war. Imperium doesn’t accept all applicants. People go where they are accepted and made to feel wanted.
1. Winning has not sat well with the past winners
When you read Groen, you discover that one of the worst things that can happen to an organization is to win an extended and costly battle. It is sometimes followed with in-fighting, jockeying for position, internecine battles, and even betrayals. Let’s not forget that after the French Revolution and the Russian Revolution, the winners then turned on each other and started a slaughter-fest.
I don’t think that will happen now post-WWB, but Imperium has a lot of things to work out. How do some of the newly-added alliances fit in? How much territory do we reclaim and who gets it? Who decides who gets what? Will alliances on the edges feel they are being used as meat-shields? Imperium cannot afford to relax. In some ways, the hardest work is just beginning.