Goonswarm is an alliance of griefers – with some qualifications. GSF is the largest alliance in the game and is surprisingly diverse. It’s not a monolithic entity. Regardless, it draws a lot of attention from both the community and the broader gaming media for large-scale and/or innovative ‘griefing’ activities.
More importantly, though, it’s an alliance of posters. Don’t forget that a Goon is not an EVE pilot – a Goon is an active member of the Something Awful forums. Playing EVE is something a small minority of Goons do. (The general lack of understanding of this distinction is apparent if you actually read the EVE thread on SA.)
As a forum-based culture, ‘good posting’ is actually important to GSF line members. If you’re a ‘bad’ poster on SA, you might not even make it into the alliance. The Goonfleet.com forums are probably the most tightly moderated in EVE, and the forums we spawn from? Even more so.
The point I’m trying to make here: Goons care about posting. To be a member of GoonWaffe, you have to be at least a moderately tolerable & active poster. Weaselior, the man mostly responsible for this year’s technetium bottleneck, is a moderator on SA. He spends a good chunk of his time ensuring good posting there, and then liberates himself by trolling the hell out of the official EVE forums. (Pushing people’s buttons on eve-o is something of an official GSF pastime.)
When we see bad posting – your image macros, your shit grammar and twisted ideology, your hysterically paranoid anti-goon posts, your 500-page My Little Pony threads… well, we think it’s funny. Hell, FYAD is basically founded on the idea that bad posting is funny.
The Ministry of Love isn’t about silencing our opponents. It isn’t part of some kind of master plan, there’s no strategy. The Mittani isn’t going to “force his will” on highsec with a couple dozen goons in bombers and Falcons. All this is about is blowing up space-stuff – in this case, the space-stuff of offensively bad posters, because it tends to provoke a gut-bustingly hilarious response.
Silencing critics? Being targeted by Miniluv just makes people louder, if Krixtal is any example.
So how did this relatively innocuous idea – fighting people who don’t like us – get blown wildly out of proportion? There’s the Goons Are Doing Something And I’m Angry factor, of course. But this is more than that. I think I know what it is.
Remember a little less than a year ago, when Goonswarm Shrugged was announced? The thread in question was reposted from Goonfleet.com to Kugutsumen and linked all over the official forums.* Relative to the actions of the past few months, it was a small step into the market manipulation game. The large heading near the top – “We’re going to wreck the entire EVE economy” – was for propaganda purposes. A big, bold, attention-getting headline to drive up participation and provoke a response. The ice interdiction succeeded beyond GSF’s wildest expectations, but the game’s economic engine kept on humming with a few hiccups and coughs.
The greater community – bloggers and posters – could have laughed this off. Pointed out the overreach. Instead, they took the propaganda at face value and ran screaming to the forums about Goon Oppression and Destroying The Game where we could laugh at them.
The Ministry of Love is turning out to be pretty effective as a gigantic ‘bad posting’ generator, designed to provoke the most paranoid response from forum warriors and tinfoil-hat pubbies. It works, right down to the 1984 reference in the name. Yes, Miniluv exists. There are Goons flying around highsec killing people who we don’t like and who don’t like us. This isn’t new – anyone here remember Rens 911? Jihadswarm? No?
Funnily enough, narrowing the scope of ‘Goons in highsec’ has provoked a stronger reaction. Let’s say we accept the premise that in-game actions should be viewed through a real-life moral lens. Isn’t fighting between those who actively and mutually dislike each other more acceptable than the alternative – me and my friends blowing up exhumers and barges regardless of their name or affiliation? What’s more ‘moral’ – an assassination or a massacre?
The correct answer: it doesn’t matter, because EVE is a video game and CCP doesn’t care. Nor should they.
No matter how many times someone blows you up, you’re free to express your opinion. No one’s right to speech is infringed by the destruction of their pixel-spaceship. The whole argument that this is anything new or crosses any lines in EVE just doesn’t hold water. Are you a rational human being? Do you choose not to spend your time posting threads that compare Goons to Nazis or disbanding BoB to the Holocaust? Then you’re fine. Keep being reasonable. Sit back and enjoy the show as Goonswarm & friends poke crazy people with a stick and see what happens.