FORUM PR0N

This thread contains most of the chatlogs, forum porn and screenshot from (GoonSwarm's one-time Spymaster) Mittani’s thread on the Goonfleet forum in the aftermath of the disbanding of rival alliance Band of Brothers (BoB).

 

In addition to text made primarily for internal consumption within the swarm (e.g., the alliance wiki), the community is galvanized through more public textual practices as well. One such instance of this public discourse is the coveted “forum porn." Forum porn (sometimes intentionally misspelled as "pr0n" among the web savvy) is the internal communications of an enemy that spies have copied and subsequently distributed for the enjoyment of the group. These communications are often filled with the enemy lamenting recent losses and their own incompetence, and it is quickly reposted to EVE public forums to degrade and humiliate the Swarms’ enemies. As an added benefit, it gives goons a large morale boost, encouraging them to twist the knife that much harder. Examples of such fodder include intercepted posts griping about the loss of a ship, whining and internecine squabbles among members, and expressions of frustration at GoonSwarm. What was once a private conversation within the confines of an alliance now gets used against them in the public square, leading to witch hunts within a particularly compromised organization and further sowing the seeds of distrust and discontent among rival factions. Much like the whistleblower site Wikileaks (okay, maybe not quite like it—much less serious), Goon-disseminated forum porn intercepts covert intelligence and makes it public, thus shaming the content originators. A large part of that shame (and this fits into the GoonSwarm terministic screen) rests on adversaries revealed to be taking the game's vicissitudes entirely too seriously. Forum porn also illustrates McKenzie Wark's thoughts on agonism, a collective mentality shared by a group that relishes the ludic or gamelike character of all aspects of life (section 10). In GoonSwarm's case, that mentailty is downright gleeful, even when it involves frustrating other players.

Forum porn functions as a site of ideological conditioning, of values-sharing, -reinforcing, and -debasing, taking place outside of what Ian Bogost might call the "procedural" space of the game itself. It exposes or makes present the oftentimes hidden rhetoric of how individual players become initiated into a particular group, while disavowing those outside of it. As such, the conversation around forum porn functions as more than just delighting in the frustrations of others. This activity allows players to forge a group identity beyond the rule set of the MMO, extending member communication, game strategies, and play into other online spaces. It is a means of both building the community from within and projecting an identity outwardly to other player groups.

One common way that this occurs is by defining the group comparatively, typically employing the Burkean tactic of scapegoating, thus reinforcing GoonSwarm's own ties at the experience of devaluing other groups. As Burke explains in A Grammar of Motives, the scapegoating process is a symbolic ritual that functions dialectically, and we can see that mechanism in action here. Burke writes that the process consists of “(1) an original state of merger, in that the iniquities are shared by both the iniquitous and their chosen vessel; (2) a principle of division, in that the elements shared in common are ritualistically alienated; (3) a new principle of merger, this time in the unification of those whose purified identity is defined in dialectical opposition to the sacrificial offering” (406). Among all of the factions who share the commonality of playing EVE Online, it becomes important to differentiate the “us” from the “them.” For goons, the shared principle of division hinges upon lame-ifying those players and alliances who blindly play according to the game's established ruleset and take pride in their gameplay. The GoonSwarm principle of merger largely involves a sense of superiority fueled by playing the game in ways not always intended and still doing well at it. It might sound counter-intuitive, but the group denigrates those players that play the "right" way, instead cheering on those of their ilk who innovate or "hack" the conventions of typical gameplay.

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