CCP and CSM – How to restore trust

The recent spate of conflict between the EVE Player council CSM and the company that makes our game, CCP has reached a new low (or, if you are the gaming press and live off click-through-ads, high) with Sion Kumitomo’s manifest.  Whether I agree with it or not is not of concern here, my concern is how to help CSM to regain its trust and usefulness so that we – the players – can continue to have insight and input into the design of our hobby.

As eluded to, I want to emphasize trust.  Read Sion’s post carefully and you realize that the lack of trust is at the center of the issue.  Players don’t trust CCP to design a good game which is of course the reason of having a CSM in the first place.  CSM members don’t trust players’ ability to rationally vote and hide behind bombastic, Trump-style campaigns designed to gather votes no matter truth.  CCP doesn’t trust CSM (never fully have) and shuts down communication, releases features without discussion and shuns specific members in public.  And of course, in a system where nobody trusts anyone, the progression from working relationship to hidden conflict to open conflict to apathy is a well trodden path – we all experienced this in real life corporate situations.

Speaking about real life corporations and trust – did you notice the odd little effect that telecommuting and the ubiquity of conference calls had on body language and facial expressions?  Its much harder to read the mood of your colleague on calls and certainly where I can’t read someone’s emotions, I can’t develop trust.

Given that virtually all CSM / CCP / Player interaction is either written or by telecommunication but rarely in person, the absence of trust is an anticipated side effect and shouldn’t surprise us at all.  But instead of sitting on our hands, lets do something about it.


A Modest Proposal

Over the last few years, consumer electronics companies have developed a dizzying array of wearable devices promising to measure physiological parameters such as heart rate, galvanic skin response (GSR, i.e. the amount of “sweat” following a stressful stimulus), blood pressure, skin temperature and motion.  There are many more, recently, the well-known company Philips launched an App that ascertains heart rate through interpretation of a webcam image! Together, these data offer an incredible insight into the emotional state of the participant and – through the magic of Bluetooth and the internet – make it available for all to see.  So, it is logical to use this technology developed for the improvement of sports performance and “wellness” to enhance trust among ourselves.

I thereby propose that each CSM member throughout his or her term shall wear above mentioned monitoring devices on his or her body and stream their emotional responses live and unfiltered into the internet.  Given the asynchronous nature of communication, these devices need to be worn 24/7 to assure unlimited coverage.  What better way to create transparency and avert accusations of lying if the scientifically acquired data clearly shows that one was speaking the truth?  How better to prove one’s innocence of making backroom deals (“proven” by fake screen captures) if one can demonstrate sound sleep, even which phase of the sleep one was in?

Of course, the concept of using devices as such in the detection of the truth is not new.  The most commonly cited device is the Voight-Kampff Machine that is reported to detect lies within 20-30 cross-referenced questions.  A little clumsy device by today’s state of electronics but the principle remains sound.

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Fanfest 2015 – Remote Recap

As dumb luck would have it, RL prevented me from “working from home” last week which in turn meant that I could only catch fanfest in short bursts when:

  • On the john.  “Yes.  I have digestive issues, thats why it takes me 30 min to take a dump. Got a problem with that, want to discriminate?  I’ll call HR”
  • Driving.  This is actually pretty good, the video portion is overrated of the stream.  Why would I stare at pale and sickly looking male neckbeards standing on a stage for hours.  Most of the information is voice.
  • At work on cell phone (work blocks all game-related websites).  We have a lot of conference calls at work and nobody bats an eye when I am on yet another one. That doesn’t work all the time. I have colleagues who can see my calendar.  I have not invented meetings yet to cover up – my plan for next year.

So, with this disjointed viewing, I don’t get much detail but I do get a decent cross section of the program.  I get Fozzy talking about Sov, I get someone talking about new structures and I get the art panel talking about, well, Art.  I missed the keynote and the trailer (both, Valkyrie and the other one) but neither was rated really highly anyway.  So, those clips and the sporadic tweets gave me a pretty good picture what was going on in Iceland.

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My Apology to CSM

Just a quick post, I had promised myself to stay out of the most recent CCP debacle but unfortunately, I didn’t manage to do that.

Just as background, CCP laid off more employees in Iceland, that in itself is not note-worthy. They do this after shutting down World of Darkness, and announcing that they will be removing DUST as we know it and replacing it with a brand new game. Oh, and they will be adding an Occulus Rift game.

Some details can be found in a Guardian article, more can be found on EVE’s own Fox news.

Ok, so what?  A game company that takes risks, explores opportunities and gambles for greatness should be applauded, not harangued.  Too many tech companies rest on their laurels and get blown away by the next competitor that comes along with a better product.   CCP is taking massive risks and I envy them for the patience of their shareholders.

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