I never really have high expectations for the CSM in part due to bloc voting. With rare exceptions the CSM seems to be ineffective at best. At worst, they are tools for the big political blocs to push ideas that favor their gameplay style or a way to leak information. You have to be pretty naïve to think it doesn’t happen, or you’re simply in on it. As such, aside from giving dark horse candidates some media access, I don’t much acknowledge much of anything to do with the CSM. However some candidate’s ideas are just so trash they deserve being called out.
Introducing Matterall. For those without the patience to listen to the recording, Matterall states “I don’t care if CCP sells bullets that do a little more damage frankly. I don’t see that as completely destabilizing the game because the game is not all about PvP. The game is about other things too.”
The implication here is that we have a candidate that may very well likely be meeting with CCP telling them that features that are essentially Pay-2-Win are okay. The last thing CCP needs is a CSM member giving them a nod to head toward Pay-2-Win, a possibility ever more present since the company had been acquired by Pearl Abyss. Gorski did a great job bringing attention to this on reddit and hopefully there is enough of a reaction to Matterall’s position that he’ll recant. Pay-2-Win has no place in Eve Online…ever. Eve may be about “other things too” but those other things should never be Pay-2-Win.
But who is Matterall and why does he have bad ideas? Long story short he runs the Talking in Stations podcast where he plays the role of a milquetoast host tossing gentle softball questions at his guests. Naturally this makes him incredibly likable for his guests since they’re never really pressed on any hard questions and they get air time to feel space-important. Long story is a bit more interesting. Matterall actually got his rise in media at EN24. Looking back his articles mostly consist of battle reports, reviews of nullsec politics and random smatterings of this and that analysis. We had some occasional interactions but during his time at EN24 (2014-2015) not much really stuck out. Then in late 2015 he wrote an article about his time at Eve Vegas.
“Who are you?” Mittani asked.
“Matterall,” I offered with a handshake.
“Matterall. I know you. You’re the only good writer at EVENEWS,” he quipped. “Have you met Sion? You should meet Sion. He’s around here.”
I laughed out loud at the speed and precision of the cutting remark. All at once, it makes you feel good about yourself and bad about who you work for. Without missing a beat, the next thought is the closer: Sion is his contract carrier. The reference was a signal that there was more business to be done, but not with him. He went back to talking to Grath.
Any notion I had of Mittani being a wordy spokesperson for Sion’s agenda went out the window. Mittani is in charge, Sion is the quiet fixer that picks up the chairs his boss knocks over as he whirlwinds through a room.
The compliment was a nice surprise. No one should forget that Mittani is a great writer. His “Sins of a Solar Spymaster” series for TenTonHammer were a reliably good read. If you get a chance look them up, there’s a lot of good history there from a direct source, written in a compelling way. He also writes great narratives for his troops at wartime: “..the StainRus are boiling out of their trenches.” Who writes like that?!
Steamy. Once Matterall managed to compose himself and ring his panties out, he hopped on over to INN then known as “TheMittani.com.” After all “they had press badges and looked really professional” as he gushed to me. And I’m sure they did. After all TMC from its start was designed as a mouth piece for the largest coalition in game which naturally provides certain benefits and privileges. EN24 was only ever envisioned as a hobby site not a business venture. I got the sense Matterall really wanted to “move up in the media world” but needed a more viable platform to become a “real gaming journalist.” The move to TMC made sense and I didn’t begrudge him for it. I did let him know that I thought he was being naïve and used by Mittens as a token NCdot guy so TMC could dodge accusations of bias. Looking back at it now I wonder if perhaps I was the one being naïve. Maybe Matterall knew exactly what he was doing and what he would get out of his move to TMC/INN.
At the time Goons and TMC were on top of the world. They had a solid hold on the north, a comic book propaganda version of Eve history, and the now infamous failed book kickstarter. They were even arrogant enough to try to extort lowsec pirate groups. Although that ultimately backfired it still shows the power level of Goons in mid to late 2015.
Once Matterall became part of their media group he quickly went to work being useful to Mittens. It’s real comical reading some of the work at the time especially during World War Bee.
Matterall reporting about how Goons were going to retake the north as a “slow Roman advance.” Unironic “cracks forming” posting about Money Badger Coalition members. Corp diplomatique (what a pompous tryhard name for paper pushers) is going to “reach out to strengthen allies and find new friends.” Gone was any critical analysis and questioning he showed hints of when at EN24. For example, how are MBC forces holding off this Goon advance if they’re fighting each other so much? Seems like a narrative contradiction. What were the failures of “Corp diplomatique” that saw a half dozen Goon allies abandon them. Instead we got Mitten’s words coming out of Matterall’s mouth as the impartial NCdot “see we’re totally fair and balanced guys” puppet.
Matterall is many things but I wouldn’t call him dumb. Yes he spent a few good months as a token mouthpiece but in exchange he acquired a network of Eve media contacts and brought Talking in Stations to newer heights. If you look at it from a business perspective, it’s not about being accurate or truthful, it’s about getting clicks. TMC/INN has been a great move for him to further his ambitions in developing his own gaming news site. The very fact that he’s simultaneously loved by Mittens and NCdot leadership should be quite telling. Maybe he’s a skilled manipulator, or maybe he’s just an ass kiss or something in between. In either case he’s got a foot in each boat in case one sinks. In regards to the initial CSM issue and Pay-2-Win, it does give us some insight on his mode of operation. He’s not one to question authority or to challenge narrative. He’s more interested in being liked and furthering his popularity for his own means. Given the opportunity he’ll quickly attempt to use this perceived clout for himself such as this hilarious ‘do-you-have-any-idea-who-I-am’ style post.
In such an instance the soft spoken nice guy mask came off and we got the “do you have any idea who I am” type attitude. Aside from being painfully cringe to say something so self-important in Eve Online, it’s all the more hilarious that he thought anyone would A) give a single damn that he knows the Mittani and B) out of anyone in the game, that Snuff members of all would care.
Despite some of his personality quirks, passive mannerisms, and if you get on certain topics, politics out of the La Raza playbook, Matterall’s a good writer I’ll give him that. But his fixation on building his brand is unlikely to make him effective for a CSM position and having some uncomfortable conversations with the direction the game is going. (Structure spam, inflation, capital proliferation etc) I don’t have any delusions that I’d be able to somehow derail Matterall’s CSM bid. Most votes are likely already in and that’s that. But we do need someone who cares less about building brand and using Eve/CSM as a launching pad into “Real Gaming Journalism” and more about the actual health of the game. Someone who appreciates the niche aspect of Eve and understands that it’s strength comes from being different, instead of conforming to what other MMOs are. We need people who are less conformist and willing to challenge CCP on things they need challenged on. Not someone who blows with the wind in order to further personal goals, unfortunately at the expense of the player base.