CSM members have no agency.
-Sion Kumitomo, Now We Got Bad Blood
The quote was so small that I put it in the title of the post. Saved you a click… unless you’re already here. Ah well.
The post from which I took it however is somewhere in the 4,500 word range, or about double the number of words at which I start thinking that I might be rambling too much. So many words in order to build up a context, set the story, explain the machinations, and try to tease out some of the nuances of the whole saga. (And then there is the comment section which seeks to compete on the total words front.)
Yes, the post was put out there to tell a story and justify an resulting action, and that can require many words. Sion gets to have his say. Yet, for me, the essence of the whole issue was delivered in five words nestled deep in the heart of that enormous post. This all came about essentially because members of the CSM, for all their hard work and devotion to the game, cannot make things happen. They cannot make CCP listen to them. They cannot make CCP like them. They cannot make CCP disclose information to them. They cannot make CCP fly them to Iceland. They cannot make CCP acknowledge their existence.
The members of the CSM hold almost no power in their relationship with CCP unless they take the game out of school, so to speak, and start getting players riled up directly. And even that has worked exactly once, back during the Incarna brouhaha. Going out of school mostly just gets you ignored or ridiculed or excluded from the proceedings so far as I can tell.
School is, of course, the apt metaphor. I called the whole thing the Galactic Student Council back in 2008… and I am not going to let that piratical Rixx Javix steal my lead on that insight either with his 2011 observations!
Not that I begrudge CCP their hold over things. They have a business to run, and adding a bunch of well meaning outsiders to the development process can be a hindrance to getting things done.
But CCP also set this whole CSM system up. They have encouraged players to step up and pitch in, on their time, and generally work at what I once described as essentially a “horrible middle-management job,” all for the love of the game. It is not unreasonable to expect that, if you’re going to ask people to put in the effort, that you not jerk them around. You don’t tell people they matter, that the whole process matters, and then consistently prove to them that they really don’t without some blowback.
And so Sion boycotted the latest CSM summit.
Part of me doesn’t agree with his choice. After all, what does a boycott of one accomplish? And doubly so, how effective is a boycott when you’re alleged to be the member that CCP changed the whitepaper, without consulting the CSM, just to exclude from running for CSM again? Staying away seems to be giving CCP exactly what they desire. It would be better, to my mind, to show up and bang your shoe on the table like a latter day Khrushchev just to let people know you’re there and won’t be ignored.
Then again, I haven’t been in Sion’s shoes. After his experiences, it may be that exercising about the only agency he has left within the confines of the CSM Whitepaper seemed like the better plan. In the end, he made the choice and gets to live with the consequences.
Anyway, the management of the CSM at CCP has traded hands, with CCP Logibro, a friend to all fan sites, and the perennially popular CCP Guard taking over the helm. Perhaps that will change things a bit for CSM 11. Putting one of the most well known and well liked members of the CCP team on the case does send a message. But CCP Guard also seems like one of the busier people on the CCP team, at least when looking in from the outside, so I hope he and CCP Logibro have the time to do something with the CSM.