The Race is on
As the candidacy period opens up for players to “officially” cast in their ticket to run, the number of individuals who have already unofficially made announcements on the forums, blogs, or podcasts is drastically lower than what might be considered normal. There are less than two dozen candidates who have submitted their candidacy for running on the Council of Stellar Management’s twelfth iteration, as of the writing of this article. This bodes well for those candidates—as there will only be 10 total selected (a change from last year’s session)—giving these hopefuls a good chance at earning a spot on the CSM. What concerns me, however, is that poor turnout alone. Many of those wishing to run for the CSM in the past placed bids on the EVE Online forums as early as July the year prior. In stark contrast to that, most candidates this election cycle did not place a forum post with their intent to run until December 2016.
This to me screams of concern, but for the life of me, I can’t pinpoint why or how. It could be a matter of it being too early and I could very well be running around the universe yelling that the sky is falling. It is interesting though that in a time where EVE Online should be seeing the greatest resurgence of veteran players and waves of new Alpha Clones after the Inception release, New Eden doesn’t really seem to be that active for the CSM or in general.
Here and Now
Earlier this week CCP went live with CSM XI members on Twitch for their pre-summit meeting, with several on the council making a suggestion that voting takes place within the confines of the game. I suggested this same thing on the latest episode of The Mind Clash Podcast. Just like it did when suggested at the pre-summit, the overall reception wasn’t well received in regards to that concept. As most meta-level players know, the vast majority of the player base has little knowledge about the CSM and the out of game experiences that we do. The loudest argument against putting voting into the game is that those players who know little to nothing of the meta would now have a voice in a portion of the game that they know nothing about, essentially skewing the results for something that might not even matter to them.
There can be a lot to agree or disagree with for either side of that coin, but the fact still remains that from the outside it almost seems as though the legitimacy of the council is waning. Much drama was encountered in CSM X, and this year players have voiced their concerns that they feel the CSM isn’t very active. As feature rich and exciting as this past year has been for the world of EVE Online, one might not know it based on the current level of enthusiasm and participation. Thinking about that further, and with the overall sense from the council that players who know nothing of the CSM or “their version” of the game, it might be a little too bold to say that the opinion of the average player isn’t critical. What good, then, is a council that isn’t 100% representative of the majority of a body of players?
Some critics have suggested that multiple focus groups might be a better alternative to a council of few. The question to that suggestion, however, might be “who picks that focus group?” and we are back to square one regarding a player selected group(s) vs. group(s) chosen by the developers.
Regarding how the current CSM feels about making the voting process and awareness of the council more visible, we are still talking about a small group of specialized meta players that are voted in by another small group of meta players. The process, as it has been, still discounts and does not involve the majority of the people who actually make up the player base. This concept hearkens back to times when social media and the freedoms we take for granted today didn’t exist, and where the mass majority had no knowledge and especially no input on their own lives. To say that 10 or 14 individuals chosen from an elite group of citizens is a true representation of the people is absolutely ludicrous. At a point in the game where the developers are attempting to elicit new blood via the free to play option, it only seems reasonable that the door between classes be open within the game so that ALL players are involved in the community, not just the chosen few or those that feel that their play style is the one true way.
At some point in the history of New Eden, we were all new players and knew nothing of much of the inner workings and politics behind the scenes, and the only way we found out was likely through curiosity. Something that always comes up in discussions of helping new players is the idea that if they want help, they have to ask. To which my counter is always: how do you know what questions to ask if there is nothing indicating a need to ask? Especially in a game as complex as EVE Online where there isn’t an actual, included instruction manual. How then can you navigate a game that doesn’t have a map (yes I know there is a map), or ask for directions when no destination is presented at the start of your journey?
To wrap up this rambling, I only ask that those readings this stop and give some reflection on this topic. If you have thoughts on how the players and the developers can include all of the citizens of this universe we share, please engage in discussions with those that will listen. Expressing your concerns to CCP and the CSM are helpful, but the most important thing that someone can do to raise awareness and visibility is to seek out your fellow capsuleer and shout from the mountain tops that there is more to this game than what is behind the singular existence that they have been living in. Get out there, get involved, and make this game greater by sharing your passion with those that have not been allowed to share in all the mysteries of this game.