Apologies if you've already read this on the Eve-O forums! I did a rather lengthy essay on people's attitude towards propaganda in the Corporations, Alliances and Organisations section and I think it's worth sticking on the blog to save it from being too buried in the smack fest that the thread this is lifted from has devolved into.
The original question and point of discussion was whether BoB's propaganda war against ASCN had changed the general Eve public's view of us as an alliance. The thread had a mixed bag of responses but if you give the CAOD forum reader base a chance to have a dig at BoB then they by and large will, so they did!
Anyway, I didn't want to just reply in that thread "omg our propaganda r0xs joo n00bs, the more we post the more horniererer I get for my alliance dude" so I wrote a piece with my take on the general sort of attitudes towards propaganda and BoB style aggressive forum posting.
This was the original thread.
This was my little essay on the subject...
My take on this issue is that the community is utterly schizophrenic regarding propaganda, attitude towards other players, the nature of Eve as a very PvP centric game and very specifically the content of this forum.
For starters Eve is a very PvP centric game, the very essence of Eve is the harsh death penalty and the competition between players in almost every aspect of the game. Eve is not a game where everyone reaches the same level cap, grinds for the same Sword Of A Thousand Truths and can all roleplay that they are the champion of the world and legitimately claim to be correct because they've been to the Castle of Ultimate Darkness and killed the ebil Warlock and his horde of minions (despite the fact that everyone else has). Eve by it's very nature has winners and losers.
This same community that gets it's knickers in a twist about aggressive forum posting will defend the rights of any one of us to go into a 0.3 system and repeatedly kill any poor pilot in his fourth week into the game as many times as we can pull it off because that's the nature of Eve. There are dozens of posts in the General section of this forum every week where the issue of Eve being full of griefers/ebil people/sociopaths is raised by someone relatively new to the game and a very significant proportion of the community always comes charging in to refute those claims and sing the praises of CCP for creating a game where true competition and meaningful PvP exists.
Yet whilst it's ok to reduce some tearful newbie to 1isk and a Bantam just for giggles in low sec it's not ok to wage war with words on another group of players in a different section of the same forum?
It's been clearly stated by the development team on more occasions than you can shake a stick at that Eve is a sandbox where anything goes, where players drive the real content and that to the Dev's collective amazement and joy we as a community continue to surprise them and take the game to new levels. New members of the community will regularly decry the lack of content within the game mechanics, code, back story etc. and every time they do many of the same people who read and write in this forum daily will go to great pains to point out the Dev's vision for the game and advise those new players to make their own content.
Why then in the context of Eve and it's community would we place artificial limits on the degree to which people take that sandbox idea to create player driven content? We know Eve is a harsh virtual world that we all inhabit, it says so on the box, the Dev's tell us it is and we all defend that fact to people who criticise Eve's model. We collectively, even those of us that play the 'white knights' within the game, can and indeed regularly do some pretty harsh things to each other in game. Not only can we do nasty things to each other but Eve is one of those games where achievement and success require a pretty significant investment of time, effort, cooperation with others and ultimately a degree therefore of emotional involvement so those nasty things hurt that little bit more. The Eve experience is to some degree like watching a horror movie, we all know what we're paying to watch, we all know that it's not real and we all know that it's going to frighten us and make us feel bad.... that's the reason we're there paying and watching.
As a small example of the degree of immersion and attachment Eve fosters I can think of numerous occasions where the advantages of two corporations merging are significant, that from a game play perspective would undoubtedly advance the experience for all their members and yet they can't give up the name of their corp, the reputation it has created for itself and the sense of investment and attachment associated with it. We all know this, in fact I am sure we all relish the fact that even for the most casual player Eve breeds those feelings.
Given that freedom of play style, the model of meaningful PvP and the indisputable fact that the very nature of Eve creates emotional involvement (which we all enjoy) why would any of us want to see a war between two of Eve's largest player factions occur in the game in a vacuum detached from those feelings of immersion when ever it is portrayed in all the other community media surrounding the game? I would suggest that we don't really want that, I would suggest that it would even be strange if it did occur.
I know that many people who do not participate in the rough and tumble of the CAOD forum and do not post the things they think or feel about their opponents and enemies in game still say and think all the same type of things that those of us who do actively participate in this forum post in here. I know they do because it's in their own forums, it's in their corporation or alliance chat channels and at times they'll even communicate it directly to you in game (hate mail anyone?). So who is the more honest, who is participating more in the spirit of the game and the community, those that pretend in here that such sentiments, thoughts and feelings are bad and shouldn't be communicated (yet do it anyway in other media) or those who just openly communicate in CAOD and share it with the wider audience?
The argument that wars and all the communication of thought and feeling surrounding them should be kept in private or in game and that these forums are not the place for it should ask themselves the question why these forums exist. Why is there an Events forum? To communicate about events in game, including associated roleplay and therefore make the experience more accessible and more involving. Why are there Roleplaying sections of the forum? To expand the roleplay experience from within the game out of the game and facilitate more opportunity for participation and involvement. Why therefore is there a section for discussion about the achievements, actions, announcements etc. of corporations, alliances and organisations? For exactly the same reasons of course, to widen the availability and therefore involvement in the actions of those same organisations. The forums exist specifically to broaden the scope of interaction beyond what happens in game.
Taking therefore the sandbox nature of Eve, the harsh realities of the game, the degree of time invested, the deep sense of immersion and attachment we all have for our characters, corporations, alliances and the achievements associated with them and then combining that with a media provided specifically to broaden the opportunities to participate in those things of course we will have propaganda in CAOD.
I can recall posting myself during the FIX war about how much I enjoyed fighting them and what good enemies they were to have. There were a lot of people posting in those threads the equivalent of a virtual vomit over the nicey nicey nature of the posts (they weren't that kiss ass either!). When there is a lot of aggressive forum posturing and propaganda going on in CAOD people complain about it, when there is a lot of nicey nicey posts people complain about it. This community is schizophrenic regarding it's response to the state of this area of the forum.
To lose this forum would deprive the game and the community of something special. To make this forum too nice and remove a lot of the vitriol would make the whole Eve experience much too depressingly clinical and PG in nature. In the main the majority of content on this forum is merely a reflection of the degree to which Eve succeeds in creating a free form environment where player driven content flourishes like no other game on the market.
I sincerely believe that only the tiniest minority of posters in here really are too emotionally involved and transpose their feelings for another player or group of players into real life dislike. The majority of us know what this forum is about and enjoy the colourful addition it brings to the in game experience. I would even go so far as to suggest that if there weren't posts in CAOD that people can complain about then they would miss the opportunity to complain!
When I meet people in real life who play on opposing factions in Eve we have a laugh about it, we all know that we're playing our parts in game, that someone has to be the knight in shining armour, someone has to be the clown, someone has to be the bad guy and all the other variations of style that bring such a diverse gaming experience to life. I've played the good guy and had as much fun doing that as I have playing the bad guy, the guy behind the keyboard hasn't changed. I have a very old friend in Eve from our days in NORAD who left BNC when we 'turned to the dark side' I'd still love to buy the guy a beer in real life and I still enjoy chatting to him when I bump into him in Eve, I am 100% certain he feels the same way. He's playing one style and I'm playing another, he's still a friend. When we fight in game I'll still post propaganda about his faction and I'll still expect them to do the same or at least refute mine, it doesn't really change our personal relationship or ability to chat about the conflict and say how much fun it was. Perspective is the key.
There will be a time when this current phase on the CAOD forums has ended and we go through another quiet spell, love or hate what is going on currently there will be posts by people on both sides of the coin who lament the lack of content we are currently experiencing, it's happened before and it will happen again.
If we have war in Eve without the surrounding drama, roleplay and polarising forum debates then Eve would still be fun to a degree but more along the lines of people playing Civ online building empires for the sake of building, playing the game for the fun it brings and enjoying the win.... but not with the same feeling of satisfaction and immersion we currently enjoy.
As far as BoB in particular is concerned I would just ask what fun would a film about the Wild West be without the Indians, what fun would the X-Men movies be without Magneto, what fun would Lord of the Rings be without Sauron etc etc...? Eve would be a lesser place without the bad guys believe me and as the current bad guys we wouldn't be nearly as hated (in the context of the game I sincerely hope!) without all the aspects that make us what we are and one of those aspects is the way we like to tell it like it is in the CAOD forum.
After all that ramble I should go on to talk about the fact that whether you like it or not propaganda works .. but I think I've said enough for now.