Friday, February 22, 2013

Propaganda? What propaganda?

"In a socially-driven game environment such as EVE Online's, everyone has an agenda. CCP promotes its products and has an army of volunteers to do the same; corporations and alliances deliver entertaining recruitment drives, CSM election candidates solicit for voter favour, bloggers and podcasters opine to their audiences.

In this intricate web of communication, influence and control, what part does propaganda play in your game?"


We don't need no stinkin' propaganda.

Let me clarify.

We don't need no stinkin' obvious propaganda.

Hands up, everyone who watched television today. Did you see a commercial for something? A car, a soft drink, a kid's toy? Congratulations, you're one of the billions of people who were exposed to propaganda today.

Propganda is about manipulating emotions. I'll carry on using television commercials as an example since it's a well-known medium. All the cheerful, smiling people in that Coca-Cola commercial? They're selling you on the idea that drinking Coke will make you happy. New car being sold? Grins all around. Has anyone ever seen diaper commercial with a grumpy baby?

How about the ADT Home Security commercial with the scared mother and child hiding in a bedroom? There's a lightning storm outside! There's a gloved hand breaking through the glass in their door! The advertisement trys to bring out feelings of fear, trys to scare people into buying a home security system. The friendly ADT man shows up to install a security system, and now the sun is shining, and everyone is smiling. Gloved hand breaks a pane of glass, and is met by a shrieking alarm. The home security system has saved the day. Everyone is happy and safe, and the implication is that you can feel the same with a ADT security system of your own.

Let's not even get into the axiom that "sex sells."

Propaganda in advertising has become so pervasive that we've become inured to its manipulations. It takes a truly stunning effort in this day and age to create a deliberate piece of propaganda that stands out. That's why I don't believe that direct propaganda works as a method from self-promotion or demonizing the "enemy." It's simply less effective than it ever has been before.

So where does that leave propaganda in EVE?

There's plenty of propaganda around EVE. We don't appear to have any shortage of talented people from the works I've come across. We have writers, musicians, and artists in abundance. I have to admit, I can't listen to "Let it Be" without singing Suas' "Little Bees" instead. I read EN24 and TheMittani for my EVE news and I get opinion pieces in the process. The problem with those sources of propaganda is that it's expected and commonplace. Wherever you get your news, you know that there's going to be a bias in how it's reported, intentionally or not.

What well-known group in EVE doesn't have pro- or anti- propaganda attached to it? I'm of the opinion that it would be stranger to see an alliance without some form of propaganda department. Whether it's an official part of the chain of command, or two guys with Photoshop, there's always somebody making pro-alliance works. There's plenty of people who are happy to make and spread propaganda to put your alliance down. I'm willing to bet that I'm not the only person to have heard that "GOONS are evil," or "IRC are awful," or even "SOLAR's so weak that they needed FAzor to come save them."

When BB45 asked "what part does propaganda play in your game?" my immediate response fell somewhere between "What part of my game isn't propaganda?" and "Does anyone care about propaganda anymore?" There is nothing in my EVE Online that hasn't been touched by propaganda at some point. I'm a member of a sov-holding null-sec alliance. It's omnipresent, but more isn't always better.

I've gotten used to it. I know, logically, that the "enemy" can't be as bad as my alliance mates claim, or we wouldn't even have to fight them in the first place. They would have long since crumbled under their own incompetence. We can't be the all-powerful, all-knowing alliance that the propaganda claims we are, or else we'd never be attacked. Since propaganda has become so common, the creators have resorted to quantity over quality. That doesn't mean the propaganda is bad, per se. It just means that it's everywhere, and the former standards that seperated well-made from poorly-made have blurred under the deluge.

I get my propaganda on Teamspeak, I get it in fleet chat. I get it when I listen to EVE music, I get it when I read blogs or the news. I get it when my corp-mates make fun of some corp that docked up for a week when we war-decced them. I have no doubt that my propensity for exploding has become propaganda fodder in some other corp or alliance.

I have to wonder, then, if propaganda plays that much of a role in my game. I'm constantly subjected to it, but am I really affected by it? Does hearing so much of it make it more effective? Does beating your head against a brick wall make you smarter? Unlikely, but I've gotten a few bright ideas out of doing just that.

To sum up my roundabout and rambling thoughts, I'd have to say that propaganda just is. It's become so common that we propagandize unconsciously. It's also gotten to the point where many people have learned to filter it out as a matter of habit. I hear it, but I don't listen. I see it, but I don't read it. Propagandize as you will, just don't expect it to do much for me.

- Sam.


  1. Ha, I love the ADT TV spots. They are amazing in their crass, obvious, heavy-handed fear mongering. Amazing what marketing gets away with.

    And yes, propaganda and marketing (where is the line, btw, I dont think they are the same?) are all around us. We can not evade it, we can just see it for what it is

  2. Propaganda and marketing aren't the exact same thing, true. I'd say the specific difference is that propaganda is designed to evoke an emotional response in the target audience, whether that's fear/courage or joy/sorrow. Marketing is for the purpose of promoting a good or service. It doesn't HAVE to evoke an emotional response, but it almost always tries to on some level.