And if I say to you tomorrow, ‘Take my hand, child, come with me,’
It’s to a castle I will take you, where what’s to be, they say will be. – Led Zeppelin
If you have been following the dev blogs or damn near any of the Eve media you should be aware that there is an election coming in New Eden, for the Council of Stellar Management (CSM). The eleventh iteration of… well, there’s the thing. CSM has changed over the years, so what it once was is not what it is today, and there is no saying what it will be tomorrow. There is a White Paper that was written when the CSM was formed, and has been updated recently. There is a lot in that, but the first thing I want to point out is this.
CCP Vision for CSM: ‘The mission of CSM delegates is to voice ideas, concerns and feedback from their voters to CCP. CSM Delegates will be included early in the design process to help shape the final features.’
CSM’s vision: ‘This section will be completed at the start of every CSM term and is determined by views of individual Council delegates.’
Yup, not even the vision of what they are or will be is matching. Each CSM has had its own flavour, drive, definition or whatever you want to call it. That is OK. I actually asked for this part to be in the White Paper, to show that often we define ourselves, and do not feel bound to repeat the mistakes of last year or the year before.
So here I am, trying to tell you what something is when it is allowed to change as it forms. Let’s break it down to the basics. The CSM is a group of players who are allowed some extra access to the developers of the game. We sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) so the developers (devs) can let us know of upcoming features and we can advise them of the pitfalls, or the reactions to expect. Twice a year, some of us are actually flown to Iceland on CCP’s dime, to meet for several days face to face with many of the development teams. We get one account free, for the time we serve. In exchange for that, we give up vacation time, meet online at odd hours, pretty much work as unpaid consultants, who may or may not be listened to.
Ah, there it is. Nothing in the White Paper forces CCP to ‘obey’ us, or even listen. They can reveal future plans, but if we look to be leakier than a colander, they might not even talk to us about everything. So the communication lines can break down, through inaction or through misbehaviour. So if candidates come in with the expectation of ‘fixing it all,’ or reforming some process from within, they had better be very persuasive, and prepared to fail, often. Occasional disappointment is also par for the course. Common cries of the CSM being a public relations tool, or a popularity contest, or a way for the larger in-game organizations to control the game, all get bandied about. I wonder if any of the CSM members have not been attacked, in the forums or by evemail, and told they are useless, or traitors.
In the real world a lot of people ask the same question. Why care about politics? It is not like my one vote will make a difference and the people elected never care about me anyways. Perhaps that is true, but if a lot of people vote the same way, changes happen. If a lot of people make a noise, attention may be paid. If you are a part of that crowd who votes – or even runs – then you have a say. You have some power – but you also have the choice, to wield it, or set it aside. If you are over 60 days in the game, you have a vote. If you are over 90 days in the game and meet certain other criteria, you can even run. New player candidates have run and won in the past, with very little in-game experience or connections.
Take the time to educate yourself. Ask questions. Demand answers – but please note that demands are seldom met. There are a lot of pilots just a shade over one year old from the new player boom sparked by the This is Eve video. If you are one of them, then you are part of the wave that could make a serious change in the election. You will hear a lot of naysayers tell you that your vote does not count, and that you should not bother. Ask yourself why they spend so much time trying to convince YOU not to vote. Maybe, just maybe, it is because your not voting makes theirs count all the more?
If you have questions about any of this ask me in the comments below or on reddit, via Evemail, or even on Twitter, @mikeazariah. I will do my best to answer.