Wednesday, April 29, 2009

CSM #3: Why I'm Running

On November 14th, 2007, I was logged in to change skills and update my research lines, when a corpmate mentioned a new dev blog about something called the "Council of Stellar Management". I had no idea what he was talking about, so I went onto the website and looked up the dev blog. Inside, I found a 20 page chunk of political philosophy shoehorned into the mold of a computer game. In it also lay the soul of Eve.

I do not believe that CCP set out to make a game when they designed Eve, and I do not believe that they think in terms of making a game today. Of course, they do so superficially, but at its heart, CCP has built a world for us to play in, rather than merely a game for us to play with. Market share, player enjoyment, and all the rest matter, but they're secondary to building a world that feels real and that makes sense as a world. Concessions to gameplay exist - infinite supplies of enemies, respawning asteroids in belts 50 km wide, and so on - but they always feel like it's a guilty failure of vision, not like it's a gleeful attempt to fit within the mold laid down by others.

So it was here. CCP did not talk about player input into the game as a feature, they talked about it as a natural right of individuals living in a civilization. Their goal was to create a "deliberative democracy" to allow the will of the people to express itself to the government. Of course, it contained the usual CCP excesses - a grand document they spent huge amounts of time on with promises they still haven't delivered on a year later, Wikipedia footnotes, and half-completed proofreading - but in this case it truly is the thought that counts.

The thought, in this case, was the thought that makes democracy a functional system of government in worlds both real and virtual. Individuals tend to be intelligent and thoughtful, often making better decisions in large groups than even the best individual can, and they tend to work for their own good and the good of those around them. The CSM is an attempt to harness the power of democracy to improve Eve, and as such it is one of the more ambitious experiments CCP has ever attempted, but given the experimentally observed effects of democracy in the real world, it also has the potential to be one of their greatest successes.

It is our responsibility as players to ensure that this potential is not squandered because of us. Not merely because some would consider it a moral obligation, but because we will be the ones who benefit from a game that harnesses the power of democracy to better itself. If we care about the future of the game, we ought to get involved in shaping that future as best we can. We should become informed, we should be active in the political life of our society, and we should try to use our powers of reason, persuasion, and voting to attempt to enact the changes we see as being the most beneficial. We should stand up for what we believe in because we believe in it.

This is what I have attempted to do as a member of the Eve universe ever since the Council of Stellar Management became a reality last April. I gathered information, read the platform of every candidate who had one, and cast my vote for the candidate who I believed had the best vision to take the game forward. I have been involved in the CSM's processes from the beginning, being probably the most active player in the CSM-specific forums, and having done what I can at every point to aid the CSM's internal processes, participating in everything from the keeping list of topics raised updated to creating archive threads for past CSM information to participating in virtually every discussion of how the CSM can improve its ways of doing business.

The only way I have not participated thus far is by holding a seat on the Council in my own right, and now is the time to change that. I have a strong agenda for the future that I genuinely believe will make the game a better one for everybody, and I believe that my vision is shared by enough other players that I can make a real difference in Eve going forward. As such, I am asking for your support to be a member of the next Council of Stellar Management.

My slogan is a simple one - "Experience. Dedication. Clarity." - but it encapsulates the core of my campaign and my beliefs. I have more experience with the CSM than most other candidates in this race, having been as involved as a non-member can be since day one, and having a significant amount of experience with similar bodies in the real world. I am fiercely dedicated to fulfilling my responsibilities to others, and I will never shirk them or abandon them because it's too hard or too boring. And I believe strongly in a series of measures designed to improve clarity in the CSM (rules of order and improved resources for players to understand what we are doing) and in Eve (a wide array of improvements to the user interface and to documentation of how the game works). My beliefs are more complex than that, as any person's are, but that is the core of why I am running and what I will do if the players entrust me with a seat on the Council.

I do not run because I think I can bend the game to my will, or because I think I will be able to dictate terms to CCP. The CSM is an advisory body, not a legislature, and it must act as one. There are things that cannot be done due to limited resources, things that will not be done due to the developers having responsibilities to CCP shareholders that take precedence over their responsibilities to Eve players, and things that will be done very differently than we propose because of the rounds of testing that ideas must go through before they are made into final changes to the game.

However, we as players have one great advantage offsetting the limitations I just described, and that is that CCP genuinely does care. They may do boneheaded things from time to time - the fact that Eve was not intended as a game shows up in negative ways as well as positive - and I will attack them when that happens. But at the end of the day, CCP loves this game as much as any player, because it is both their passion and their child. They want to see what is best for Eve, and they have entrusted us as players with a major role in that process. It is our responsibility to ensure that we work with the developers, that we advise them to the best of our collective ability, and that we do what is best for Eve. And with your help, that is precisely what I intend to spend the next six months doing.

Thank you.

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