As inevitable as the tax man, the annual cycle of Council of Interstellar Management is back. 10 EVE Online players will be voted in over the next few weeks, their role is to be “representative” of the rest of us. As with all elections, there is nepotism, favoritism and every permutation of internet journalism spewing nonsense because “the public has a right to know”. But beyond the drama, the CSM does have a real and important role, they are our chance to influence the hobby that we all love.
Before both of you loyal, handsome and intelligent readers panic, I won’t “endorse” any candidates in this post and not rant and rave against specific powerblocs and playstyles. This has been played out in the Main Stream Media. No, I want to go back to basics and look at the role of the CSM from a player and from a company perspective and see what type of candidate would be most suitable.
Reviewing the countless interviews over the last years, a pattern emerges of nearly all CSM candidates. They are based on two questions: Platform and Method.
- Platform: What area or specific feature are you going to represent.
- Method: What will you bring to the CSM and what will you do for the CSM?
This pattern inevitably results in highly reproducible candidate pitches:
I am Forum Spam King, member of the Elitist PvP alliance. I represent Sov Nullsec and with my 3 months experience in Faction War, I consider myself an expert for Low Sec as well. I will bring to the CSM my arrogance and conviction that Jump Fatigue is Cancer and pledge that I will not have a rational conversation about it. Also, I will lobby to make wardecs free and indefinite. For the CSM, I will bring massive amounts of r/eve posts, always be available on Discord, Slack, Forums, Teamspeak, blogs and in-game. I can promise to be the best communicator until I am confirmed. Vote for me or you will regret it. MEGA.
The above was a hypothetical pitch not a real one. Pretty good, tho, eh? Epigene for CSM 13?
We tend to elect CSM candidates who present themselves as subject matter experts and junior developers. This is entirely our fault, our very questions forces them to answer in that way. But unless their background happens to be game design (highly unlikely), we are setting them and us up for failure. From CCP’s perspective, these “experts” bring limited value, their knowledge of e.g. Sov Nullsec doesn’t help to foster a conversation about how High Sec Mission running could be used to engage newer players into team work. CCP already has a pretty good understanding how their features work by looking at their logs and they read the same blogs and posts as we do. The last thing CCP needs is a clueless manchild with a “fix all” idea. Instead, CCP needs community members who truly represent the different players that make up their customers.
For CCP, a good CSM member is the person, the player, not the character.
Please allow me to give you an example. EVE prides itself of having a more mature, older and more educated player base than other MMOS. With age comes education and family, with education comes a job and with job and family come time constraints. These are dedicated, enthusiastic customers who can not spend 3 hours / day on the PC, maybe 2 or 3 hours per week. How can CCP engage this demographic with meaningful, fun and challenging content? These questions transcend the region or style of play, they go beyond the mechanics of Sovereignty or jump fatigue or Faction War. Such a player may have 30 minutes before breakfast and bang out a L3 mission while reading the news. Or she may undock in a frigate, chasing someone from a Plex. PvP or PvE, nullsec or highsec, it doesn’t matter at this point what experience the CSM member has but how she looks at the game in her daily life. CCP has to find out how to make these 30 minutes / day rewarding and – sandbox – having an impact.
Of course, there are other demographics, the college student, the night-shift security guard or truck driver on an overnight haul with a crappy motel internet. These people are real, they are our friends, our comrades in arms. They are the guys next to you in the fleet and we banter with them on comms. We know them well. CCP doesn’t know them at all. All CCP can see is their ships, their time online and maybe their latency. But to build up a real profile of the person, they need more than that, they need a picture of the player, understand the time commitments and what role this game has in his life. Only then will they be able to build features that work.
So, here is the nutshell, don’t vote for representatives with agendas and specific platforms. Don’t vote for a nullsec candidate because he is in Goons or whatever and promises to “fix a thing”. Its not going to work anyway. In selection of the candidates, look for players who represent you, the person best.
Vote for a person, not a character