Barbarians at the Imperium Gates: Organizational Culture and Change in EVE Online

Nick Webber, Oskar Milik


This article looks at organizational culture and identity of different organisations in EVE Online, using a combination of critical historical and ethnographic approaches. We argue that it is helpful to understand major organizations in EVE as analogous to early polities, in terms of the ways in which claims to leadership and power are demonstrated (for example through the writing of history). Yet, as we show, these organizations have strong cultures which demonstrate resilience and a resistance to top-down cultural change, meaning that the successful implementation of such change is governed by rank-and-file members rather than their leadership. We propose that the cultural (rather than political or social) nature of this resilience is centrally important in understanding how organizations in EVE function. This unity of practices and understanding allows EVE’s major organizations to suffer huge losses to their position and prestige, and yet remain viable communities and potentially resurgent powers. This seems to challenge the ‘social network’-type descriptions often used to explain the persistent groups seen in many online games.


EVE Online; culture; identity; Goonswarm; TEST; history; organisational culture

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