PROPAGANDA: IT'S NOT JUST FOR TROTSKYITES ANY MORE
The utilization of propaganda in the GoonSwarm is, at best, a nebulous activity, directed at both internal and external audiences and often incorporating multiple modes of communication from alphabetic text to graphics to digital video. Examples include the internal post aimed at raising the swarm's esprit de coeur, or the demoralizing public lampooning of a competing alliance's failed campaign, as in the case of SirMolle's failed attempt to berate GoonSwarm, recounted in The Mittani's post "EVE Online: The Propaganda War." Within GoonSwarm, there is a great distaste for long-winded chest beating on public forums. Goons will as far as to post like idiots on the official EVE discussion forum, invalidating a medium that the group's enemies had once used to great effect with mindless trolling and drivel. As such, even posts from GoonSwarm's highest directors, many of whom are older and come from professional backgrounds, often take the same sophomoric mocking tone, oftentimes leading the swarm's enemies to believe that they are getting beaten by an ADD-addled batch of teenagers. Rhetorically speaking, the effect of such an intentionally immature tone is annoying and ultimately deflating to rivals, while wildly entertaining to goons themselves.
Graphics reminiscent of WWII-era propaganda posters in both style and sentiment, as well as representative video pieces such as "GoonSwarm: Dreams," help create a compelling brand identity for the alliance members that plays with traditional, real-world militaristic signs and symbols in an ironic fashion, updated with in-game footage and high-energy soundtracks.
On one hand, the production of such propaganda is in itself a community-building practice in that all members, from the lowliest newbie to the adopted pubbie to the upper echelon, participate in their creation. These texts also function to extend the reach of the militaristic rhetoric established in EVE Online to the out-of-game discourse (forums, wikis, YouTube, etc.). In other words, even when not literally playing EVE Online, GoonSwarm members are to an extent still playing the part of alliance loyalists—and here we use the word "play" in its fullest sense. Nonetheless, in spite of the brash nature of GoonSwarm's discourse, the group is worth studying for its potential for modeling an emerging form of digital citizenship. In a sense, the dissemination and remixing of all of this digital agitprop demonstrates the social (in addition to the technical) aspect of the computer interface, an aspect that helps foment a climate of democratic citizen participation, as outlined by Hart-Davidson, Zappan, and Halloran (130-31).
We see similar strategies at play in other online venues, where hacktivist groups like Anonymous, Lulzsec, and Cult of the Dead Cow participate in similar community-forming acts of multimodal composing. Like GoonSwarm, these tech-savvy collectives also enlist a distributed network of members to remix logos, slogans, and other identifying elements into new graphics, videos, and text to dump into the memepool. Collectively, this kind of activity functions not only to promote the group identity or brand to those outside of it, it also serves as yet another channel of active participation for members that helps them identify with one another, an essential function given the anonymous nature and geographic variety of these groups.