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Sins of a Solar Spymaster #75: The EVE-Born

Posted Mon, Feb 27, 2012 by The Mittani

The Mittani tackles the two classes of EVE players and how their mindsets differ in this week’s Sins of a Solar Spymaster. Goonswarm has been a fact of life in New Eden since late 2005. Yet despite being a fixture in galactic politics and infamous for griefing and scamming, the average EVE player doesn’t understand who ‘goons’ are, or what motivates them. One increasingly encounters situations where EVE players unwittingly use the language of goons - pubbies calling pubbies pubbies, as it were - while simultaneously viewing Goonswarm through a myopic lens of ignorance. The only consistently recurring narrative about Goonswarm is that goons are somehow different from everyone else. But why? What makes a pilot in Goonswarm alien compared to the rest of the so-called ‘EVE community’? The answer is community itself - external community, independent from Eve Online. As the game has matured, there are now two classes of player, radically different in mindset - the EVE-born and the community-born.

EVE Fleet Buildup

Goonswarm is the first and largest example of a community-born group. Goonswarm hails from Somethingawful.com, a bad forum for bad people. Many, many bad people - SA has 160k+ members, each of which paid $10 to register on what may be the best forum on the internet - which once, almost a decade ago, had something to do with a comedy website and a ‘frontpage’. The fee amounts to a ransom to safeguard quality posting; the moderators will ban those who can’t obey the guidelines, but the banned usually can re-register for another $10 fee. Being a badposter on SA is costly. Given the size of the community, there are goon organizations in every MMO, which has confused EVE players sojourning elsewhere who assume that these guilds are splinters of Goonswarm, rather than part of the mother forum.

But Goonswarm is not the only organization in the game based on an external community. Dreddit, the core corporation within TEST Alliance, is the home of Redditors in EVE- and while many of the initial B0RT members came from across EVE, the vast majority of the corp is now Reddit-born, rather than EVE-born. Similarly, Elite Space Guild is an alliance of 4channers - though 4chan presents unique problems from an external community perspective, as every member is anonymous; one cannot prove oneself to be part of the 4chan community as with a username like on SA or Reddit.

The differences between a community-born player and the EVE-born escalate from the moment they start playing.

Alone in EVE

The average EVE-born starts life alone and confused in hisec. Friendless and bewildered, they try to ascend the learning cliff. Most begin with safe PvE activities, mining or running missions. After a while they may find a corp, and after many months they may - may - dare to try out PvP. The small population that makes it to the PvP experience begins working on a personal “PvP resume” based on killboard performance - kill/death ratios, usually - and a network of contacts who can vouch for them with other players. This ‘resume’ is almost as important in EVE as those used to seek a job in the real world; corporations and alliances are created and implode across New Eden with astonishing rapidity.

By this point in his career, the EVE-born veteran player is likely to have moved between six and ten corporations and multiple alliances. He has a reasonable expectation that whatever organization he is part of may collapse, so he and his fellows are always looking to ensure a soft landing in the aftermath of a failure cascade. His killboard history and the recommendations of other veterans become his golden parachute.

The importance of having a solid resume means that players who engage in socially unacceptable behavior begin to segregate themselves into niche communities. The ‘worst’ activities in EVE are scamming, botting, and corp-theft; griefplay and piracy are not far behind. A known scammer or botter is likely to be ostracized from the vast majority of organizations; a character with a corp theft on his ‘record’ is going to have an extraordinarily difficult time finding a home. While some take the plunge into scamming and piracy with relish, most players try to keep their noses clean and behave with ‘respect’- one might consider default EVE-born society a Culture of Honor, often referred to as ‘e-bushido’.

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