That Grr Goons PL SiteTarek Raimo
In the minds of many EVE players there is a strong tendency to think in terms of antagonistic absolutes. People are relegated to pigeonholes like carebears, griefers, blobbers, elite-PVPers, lowsec scrubs, nullsec F1 monkeys and of course members of specific alliances or coalitions. To do so is among the oldest reflexes of social psychology right after protecting your own progeny, partner or sibling.
“The more polarised views become among EVE players, the stronger the desire to identify who belongs to which side.”
Despite that seemingly irrevocable “natural law”, we humans have evolved to a point where we developed the ability to encompass more than just our personal little corner of hardcore darwinism with our thoughts and acts. At least some of us have. We still have our difficulties with it though, and it is still reflexive for us to put a label on those we see as our opponents, call them different and identify them as “the others”. Such pigeonholing has happened to our little fansite collective time and again. The more polarised views become among EVE players, the stronger the desire to identify who belongs to which side. It will not have escaped your attention that in recent times, the leadership of a certain coalition has been busy rousing their members into a storm of outrage against those who supposedly persecute them unfairly.
It began with the claim that another coalition was in the making which had one purpose: to destroy the peace and prosperity the Imperium had forged. It is customary in all artificial narratives of conflict to point at those which are beyond immediate control and label them as opponents. The /r/eve subreddit was quickly identified as such a hotbed of anti-Imperium hostility because it conveniently lacks any moderator coming from the ranks of Imperium notables. All the downvotes which were directed at people with Imperium flairs were used as evidence and for some reason Gorski Car was singled out as the main person responsible for allowing this to happen, maybe even encouraging it.
To collectively declare the core of posters on a subreddit as hostile may be a bit far-reaching. After all, we are talking about a rather diverse community (yes I used that word) of people who are not so easy to categorise. A small group of fansite writers is something else entirely. They are clearly identifiable and for the purpose of creating an impression of a hostile climate beyond the safe demarcation lines of the Imperium community, the evidence against Crossing Zebras seems staggering.
It is a site founded by a “turncoat” who has left the well-meaning and prosperous CFC community behind to go howling with the wolves of Pandemic Legion (then ended up joining the Bastards and GalMil by proxy). It has attracted prominent writers and podcasters from said organisation to a degree that it can undoubtedly be called a site run by Pandemic Legion and their sycophants. That they have some other people who live in FW lowsec, Phoebe Freeport Republic and a smattering of other “irrelevant” organisations, even the odd “token Goon” or two, is just a false claim of pluralism. Let’s not forget, they count Gorski Car among their number too, the number one oppressor of /r/eve. If you need proof of the “Grrr Goon” bias, just look at this list of recent pieces provided by TMC EVE Desk Editor Matterall:
* The Imperium and the Road to Serfdom (critique of Imperium)
* Charlatans and Space Cliques (critique of kickstarter)
* Why We Left The Imperium (positives of leaving Imperium)
* Greed And Loathing In New Eden (critique of TMC money)
* Don’t Believe It (lighthearted rebuttal of TMC article on coffee)
* CZ Minutes: Grr Goons? (critique of kickstarter)
The Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy
The above reflects the narrative that Mittani and Sion Kumitomo have spread on their site, the Meta Show and on Tweetfleet Slack. Now, to put that into context, the pieces Matterall lists were published over the course of two months while a good 30+ pieces were put up on the site in total. Let’s be gracious and say that brings us to roughly 20% supposedly “grr Goons” content. I wouldn’t call that an overwhelming bias. At the same time, there were a number of publications written by PL members, but none of them was written from a pro-PL viewpoint. Only one article in all that time mentioned PL in passing and it wasn’t even written by a regular contributor. With his claim, Matterall provides a classic example of the so-called Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy: an argument constructed on the basis of very select evidence while there is a much broader body of evidence that contradicts it.
To elaborate, when I started writing for this site, there were quite a few CFC and GSF members on staff. Xander and Jeg themselves were with Gentleman’s Agreement and later The Bastion. We had Hibbie, Black Huey and HVAC Repairman. Furthermore, Pandemic Legion were not necessarily enemies of the CFC back then. Both groups were firmly bound together by the B0TLRD accords, and while they may not have been allies nor best friends, they were not antagonists either. In fact, those were the days when many feared the emergence of a “blue doughnut” where all of nullsec is controlled by a coalition of major powers. Interestingly enough, nobody accused us of being a “Goon site” or a supporter of the nullsec powers back then, and for a reason.
“A place where one could be an EVE player first and a member of any corp, alliance or coalition second.”
When Crossing Zebras evolved from a podcast-only site into one which also featured written content, the idea was to have a different writer assigned to each day who would represent a different angle, faction or playstyle. Presenting the many ways how different players can experience EVE was the goal. Crossing Zebras wanted to occupy a niche between the hardened fronts of TMC and EN24. A place where one could be an EVE player first and a member of any corp, alliance or coalition second. We did not want to take sides or allow ourselves to become the voice of a specific clique of players. Unfortunately, the political metagame of some factions would not grant us that position for too long.
Those who threw their lot with NC. and their allies would be more likely to write for EN24, and anybody with writing ambitions on the CFC/Imperium side was quickly claimed by TMC. In fact, our current lack of GSF or Imperium participation has nothing to do with any policy from us, quite the contrary. It was the coalition leadership themselves who, through peer pressure or sometimes even more blatant measures, made it extremely hard for CZ to get any contributions from writers who were affiliated with that coalition ever since Xander left their ranks.
Furthermore, TMC burned through several well-meaning editors and contributors, some of whom were PL members. One or two of those ended up with us because they wanted to escape the increasingly meddlesome attitude of TMC management. By alienating and censoring everyone who would not follow the “party line”, the people behind TMC – who are incidentally also the leadership of the CFC/Imperium – created a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you drive all people of critical attitude or opinion away, they are going to end up somewhere else where they can speak their mind freely.
Doesn’t That Make You “Grrr Goons” By Default?
The answer is no. Grr Goons is a meme used as a smokescreen by a group of people who mistake criticism for persecution. The purpose is to discredit all forms of disapproval indiscriminately. Whether The Mittani really cares for “his people” or whether he wants to leverage them for personal gain, the effect remains the same. He and others in his cadre of leaders create a simplistic demarcation line between themselves and everyone else. By doing so, they apply their own logic of “us vs. them” and expect that everyone else does the same because that is the way they view their gaming environment. I even suspect that their tunnel-vision is so strong that they are to some degree incapable of understanding that there are people who do not think like this. Based on that view it is only natural that they would assume everyone who is critical of them must immediately be hostile and negatively biased. There is – however – no particular bias here against EVE players who are Imperium members.
“Many times we do not see eye-to-eye on issues, and we consider that a healthy state of affairs.”
That we allow writers to criticise the leadership style and politics of that coalition does not make us irrevocably anti-Imperium. Like I said before: we are EVE players first. Members of the community who enjoy all the complex interactions this virtual world provides and publish our thoughts about it. Many times we do not see eye-to-eye on issues, and we consider that a healthy state of affairs. The very first article I wrote for this site was a piece which Xander disagreed with vehemently. I was still accepted as a writer, the article got published and I have since written many things which disagree with different members of our team.
Recently we published an article written by Darius JOHNSON which was inflammatory and controversial. I will admit freely that I am not a fan of the man, his style, or the culture he represents. I very much agree with The Mittani when he says it is misguided nostalgia to want the “old Goonswarm” back. Many people who pat Darius JOHNSON on the back for “sticking it to the man” forget that at the time he was the leader of Goonswarm he would have gladly ganked them, scammed them, trolled them and laughed all the way through it. After all, the famous quote “We don’t want to ruin the game, we want to ruin your game.” comes from him.
I still support the publication of his article because it voices an opinion that factually exists among many EVE players, and Darius JOHNSON speaks from a position of authority when he criticises the revisionist metagame and control-freak bureaucracy which characterises today’s Imperium. One thing I always appreciated about the Goons of the past was the mockery they made of people who took EVE way too seriously, and Darius JOHNSON directed his scathing attack right at that subject. This is a point of undeniable merit which is lent more strength through the fact that it is coming from him. We have been criticised for the style of that particular article, and personally I concur. However, this site exists to be a platform for free expression of different opinions, especially opinions which might not be popular elsewhere. That is our niche.
We select our contributions on the basis of merit, not based on who they come from. We want to showcase playstyles and provide analyses of various aspects that shape our gaming experience or how we perceive the EVE player community. As members of different organisations in the game, we would happily shoot each other and smacktalk in local, but when we are not piloting our spaceships we are just players, united by our common hobby. Everyone who shares that interest and can write coherently on the subject is invited to do just that and will be welcome to publish here.
In closing, I would like to paraphrase Xander Phoena who said something to the following effect during our internal discussion surrounding Darius JOHNSON’s article: if Sion Kumitomo wanted to publish a piece on our site explaining how shitty we are in his view, I would publish it.
I would gladly do the same.