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Narration Document:

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1. 15 years ago, an unknown Icelandic game development studio released a game called Eve Online. It takes place in a science fiction universe made up of thousands of stars and planets, where half a million players from around the world fly around in spaceships and blow each other up.

2. If you’ve heard of Eve before, it might be because, about once a year, some long-brewing conflict in the game will erupt, and players will lose hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of ships in a single battle, which then will bubble up into the mainstream press.

3. 15 years is a long time, especially on the Internet, and over the years Eve has developed into a virtual world that looks surprisingly like our own.

4. Over time, players have self-organized into corporations and alliances, the largest of which have tens of thousands of members, and sophisticated governments that resemble those of real countries. They have militaries, finance organizations, logistics, propaganda, spies, and diplomats.

5. Vilerat was a spy and diplomat for Goonswarm and a big part of why they eventually rose to power. 

6. Early in their history, around 2006, Goons were on the run from the bigger and stronger groups that ruled Eve. They needed an ally. Vilerat was the diplomat, so he went and found them one. 

7. The treaty was consummated in a bar in Washington, D.C., sealed with a handshake between Vilerat and his Russian counterpart.

8. Goonswarm defended their space during the day, and the Russians took over at night, when it was daytime in Russia. Together, they survived.

9. With the Russians’ help, Goonswarm fought back against the most powerful force in Eve at the time, a group called Band of Brothers.

10. This conflict would envelop most of the game, go on to last three years, and become known as The Great War.

11. 2 and a half years in, with the conflict at a stalemate, Vilerat began to speak to the leaders of the Mercenary Coalition, a smaller group within Band of Brothers.

12. When the Mercenary Coalition declared their independence, Band of Brothers attacked. The ensuing battle left both groups severely weakened.

13. A few months later, the war was over. Goonswarm had emerged as the dominant power in Eve.

14. The reason for Vilerat’s bandwidth issues and the reason he was such an effective diplomat in Eve were the same. It was because of who he was in real life.

15. From these far-flung embassies and consulates, he built up Goonswarm’s diplomatic corps, founding an organization modeled on the State Department. He instituted a training program and taught his diplomats how diplomacy works in the real world.

16. In September 2012, Vilerat, Sean, was stationed in the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

17. Three years after Vilerat’s death, the coalition that he founded has grown into the Imperium, a conglomeration of alliances that together are the most powerful group in Eve.

18. They are 40,000 players, held together by mutual interest and the strength of Goonswarm. If Goonswarm is Russia circa the Cold War, the other Imperium alliances are the Soviet client states.

19. For a while, there was peace in New Eden. But in Eve, peace is dangerous.

20. The big alliances in Eve strike a delicate balance between stability and chaos.

21. In late 2015, facing stagnation, the Imperium makes plans to provoke a war with some of the other large groups in Eve.

22. Goonswarm has always been really good at controlling the narrative in Eve. The Mittani sells the war to his players by characterizing it as outside aggression by forces who want to see the Imperium destroyed.

23. As part of their provocation, the Imperium starts the viceroyalty program. Anyone who lives near Imperium borders is ordered to pay taxes. If they refuse, they are evicted from their space.

24. The war started slowly. Small skirmishes between pirate groups that lived on the Imperium’s borders and the Goonswarm regulars. And then there was a spark.

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