I've made the decision that in a month or two, I'll be running for the Council of Stellar Management (CSM) in EVE Online. This is a group of nine EVE Online players and five alternates who represent the larger 350,000 player base of that MMO to CCP, who develop the game. They have contact with the game developers, they talk to higher-ups in the company, they even get to go to Iceland (where CCP is headquartered) twice a year to meet with them face-to-face to bring the concerns of the game's players back to the mothership.
In theory, it's a really cool idea: a semi-representative group, elected by the game's players, with the ability to request features, point out particularly nefarious bugs and exploits, learn about where the game is going, and otherwise keep the developers in touch with what their player base is thinking.
In practice, there have been some definite growing pains. I've not been on the CSM, of course, but those that have been report that CCP doesn't take the CSM too seriously. It's a great feature to point out to gaming magazines and websites, and has a lot of publicity upsides for them in that regard. But CCP has had the ability to pretty much ignore what the CSM has had to say for quite a while now, and they've exercised that ability rather a lot...
All that changed this past summer. CCP made a number of missteps. I won't recount the tale. The Mittani of Goonswarm did a great job of that. However, what should have been a relatively minor, easy-to-manage public relations snafu went viral to the gaming media at large. This embarrassed CCP, and the latest CSM, CSM5 stepped deftly into the breach that was created and got CCP to actually listen to what they were saying. It didn't hurt at all that CSM5 was anchored around several people who were not only long-time gamers, and they not only cared passionately about EVE Online, but also they were also professional business people who are successful in the real world, too.
I'll get into exactly why I'm running for the CSM in a later post, but for now, let's say that that description also fits me. CSM5 has done tremendous work wedging open the door... just a crack. CCP has started to listen. Now, CSM6 has to do the equally tough (maybe tougher!) job of making listening a habit... making listening a repeating and on-going process. And once that's done, well, businesses are good at repeating processes.
So, as I said, introductions. My RL background is early 40s, married professional. I'm an IT personnel manager and project manager with a very strong business and communications background. My work role is basically "professional contract negotiator." But I'm also quite technical, particularly in hardware and scripting. Some of the current CSM are professional game designers. I can't make that claim, but I've designed and built rule-sets for RPGs/miniature games and have served as a consultant and play-tester for gaming companies doing so.
In EVE, I've been playing for more than three years now, and have run the gamut of EVE play experience from mining (ore, ice, and gas) to high-sec missioning to low-sec faction warfare to living in a wormhole to 0.0 roams and sov fights. I teach PvP classes and occasionally, you can talk me into FC'ing. ;-) I'll talk more about my EVE experience in a later post -- probably a few later posts -- but if you can do it in EVE, I've probably at least tried it.
I haven't been much of a blogger until now, but having one will be a useful tool in recording my impressions of my CSM run. Along the way, I'll probably talk -- a lot! -- about Internet spaceships and what I'm doing with them. I'll have stuff to say about PvP, and about industry, and about EVE politics. I'll vent some of my opinions. I'll probably even go off on tangents about geek culture, quote lines from obscure old sci-fi movies, and inappropriately relate goings-on in EVE to goings-on in the real world. And even if I lose, if I enjoy the process, I'll keep it up.
Should be fun. Let's undock, and meet at the outgate.