Virtual Realities: Memoirs of an internet spaceship politician
by Sugar Kyle CSM9, CSMX
This is where it really started. The day I lost my mind.
I never told anyone how long I had been debating my run for the ninth CSM. The thought started to circle in the back of my thoughts in November. I was back home after a sucessful Eve Vegas. I had met a few people. My notes from the presentations and round tables had gone over very well. I felt useful, comfortable, and excited that I was a member of the community. I belonged and I cared about this thing that I belonged to. That thing was the community of Eve Online.
Eve Vegas of 2013 was when I found out that a conversation I had been fortunate enough to have with CCP Masterplan at Fanfest of that same year, had sparked enough interest to gain developer attention. At Eve Vegas I learned that they would be working on ideas based off of the premise that I had presented. Only days later, a developer posted to the Offical Eve Online forums about it.
It was the catalyst to make me believe that I could do something. That there was a way to do more then react.
At that time, I was angry. The CSM, after the summit, releases minutes about their discussion. It is often a look into the future development plans of CCP. It is also one of the few times where we get to see our representatives in action. There was no mention of my area of the game. Not even a little bit. It was as if we did not exist. Changes were discussed and the ramifications that were crystal clear to me had passed everyone else by. Because no one on that counsel represented my area of space. The person that I had expected to speak for us had withdrawn. There was no voice to remind them that we were there. Again.
The anger came from many places. Anger at the council members for not caring. Anger at CCP for not seeming to care about a portion of the game that they created and often wove into advertisement. Everything that we had and everything that we did the company had created. Then they ignored the creation and broke it without even seeming to notice.
That had led to my tentative step into activisem. I started to make more noise on my blog about the way the changes in game would affect my community. I tried to be calm and reasonable. I would write in detail my concerns and worries. I would write about my hopes and dreams. I made sure to write about the good as well as the bad. There is a path a blogger can go down. One that leads to a broad reputation and many site hits. That path is often paved by contentious discussion and sarcasm. It gains readership but not because people want to share your thoughts and discuss your topics. It is because it entertains them. I did not want to be an entertaining, I wanted to address the things that concerned me. The important, video game things.
Suddenly it was done. Action had been rewarded. It could be done. Maybe, it wasn’t ridiculous? I was becoming a bit more known. I documented the presentations and the questions that followed. I had done the same the year before. Each evening, I’d sit in my hotel room and write and publish an update of the events. It was only two days long. I’d huddle over my notepad and decipher my notes to share for the players who did not attend. This was perhaps the most unique thing that I contributed and I enjoyed it. Knowledge and questions where shared beyond the walls of the convention. Questions were answered and in those answer I discovered that more had to be done.
The anger that I brought with me to events, the anger that was used as a catalyst, was misplaced. It is very easy to believe that you have been harmed and at the time I believed that my area of the game was greatly harmed. Being ignored is an unpleasant state. But, we also suffered the scorn of other players. They would laugh at us and call us irrelevant. We were the unwanted stepchild, left on the back porch. The truly smart mouthed ones said that it was cute that we considered ourselves real people.
Unfortunately for my righteous anger, I learned that the changes that had so harmed us had nothing to do with us. We were caught up in a general sweep of game balance. It just happened, in Eve’s complex ecosystem our game-play was a byproduct. We were not ignored, we were unknown. No one had looked down at us and smirked. They had not known about our world. We could not matter if no one knew we where there to care about us. Yes, there had been harm, but there was no malace in the harm.
It made me step back. Being angry was the easy part. It is easy to make smart posts and vicious digs. It is easy to bite, kick, and scream. It is harder to realize that some of this might be our own fault. We had to care about ourselves before others cared about us. I looked beyond the world that I was in. This was helped along by some statistics that showed just how small our bit of the game was.
Before we could be angry, we had to make sure people even knew we were there. That is what made me step towards the CSM. It was treated with curled lips and scorn. Still, it was the largest outlet CCP had made to connect the players to their selves. It was dominated by the larger and vocal sections of the games. Around me where passionate, committed, talented players that refused to bother themselves. But how could I continue to yell at people for not caring for me when I did not care for them? I did not care for the empires of null sec or the stealth of wormhole space. How could I scream at them for not wondering about the day to day life of the pirates of low security space? To be taken serious, we'd have to take ourselves seriously. But no one had stepped forward. None of the talented, charismatic people that led with such ease cared to do it.
I could argue that the game company should care for all of equally. I could point out that the development of the game as a whole matters. CCP had given us a tool and we had ignored that tool while we walked around complaining. It was a strange line between the expectations of a customer and the advocacy of a community. A unique opportunity if it could be gained to step across that line of the virtual world into the real.
The only problem was who was I to do it?
Next: Part Two