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Memoirs - Part Eight: Fire up the voting machines

Virtual Realities: Memoirs of an internet spaceship politician
by Sugar Kyle CSM9, CSMX

It all comes down to this

The polls opened. For two weeks, people would vote. Win or lose, I had made it this far. I refused to regret what came next. Emotionally, I bounced from one extreme to another. I wanted to win. I was overwhelmed by the thought of winning. I was ashamed that I wanted to win. The desire was strong and left me unsettled. It was important to me but once the voting started, I heard even more people then every before tell me how useless everything was. A few people messaged me and asked me what I would give them to vote for me. I'd write them back and tell them that I appreciated their thought to approach me but I'd not give them anything. It was their decision to make.

I wondered if I was a fool.

But what I really needed to do was keep up the momentum. I commissioned Joe to make me an election pin. He built it to my taste, a diamond instead of a circle. Blue (for blue in the best color) and a simple vote for me. Some people picked it up on social media as their avatar. It cropped up on a few blogs. I was overwhelmed. I wanted to win so bad and I did not believe it was going to happen.

People asked me for a voting list. This left me in agony. I wasn't comfortable doing it. I didn't want to make enemies. I don't want to recommend people. I didn't want to make that type of choice for someone else. Voting was a very personal thing to me. Why, I wondered, would anyone want me to make a suggestion to them for such a personal choice?

"Because they trust you," Wex told me.

I still asked why. It didn't make sense to me because it was not how I worked as a person. It is one of the areas where I struggle to see through the eyes of another. In my mind, I believe that everyone has a fierce individualism and wants to make their own choices and define their own path. It is something that I am probably wrong about but it is also something that I wish to believe. I believed that each person should educate themselves and make their choices. I still believe it, even if time has shown me that people may avoid said education and choice.

With my campaign button out in the world and a daily reminder on my blog to vote, I sat back and waited. Things went quiet. The election trickled down, people voted or people did not vote. The non voters made sure to tell me they'd not be voting. "I think the CSM is useless," they'd say. Or, "Null sec is just going to control everything so its not worth my time." Some just said it was to much effort. CCP made it a bit easier but it was still more than many wanted to do. "If I can't vote in game I'm not wasting my time," was a response that I read more then once.

It was about disagreement without disrespect. I believed they were wrong. I didn't think the CSM was magical. I did think it was an opportunity that should be taken. A chance that was thrown away on bitterness and miserable history. Bitterness that some thrived on. I wasn't going to chance their mind. They didn't want to hope. For reasons I did not understand, they enjoyed the misery and opportunity to spew their dissatisfaction.

Then the polls closed. Once that happened, people came to me and told me that they forgot to vote or didn't take the time to do it. For them a smile and a shrug. What would anger accomplish?

The STV vote is run immediately and the results are known. It was a few weeks before voting ending and the results would be announced during the Fanfest Keynote. The keynote announcement seems like a good idea and a nice bit of propaganda for CCP when you are not running. When you are running it is a horroring ocean of time where everything stands still.

"Don't you know?" I was asked many times. "CCP doesn't let you know early?"

"No. Not even the current CSM knows if they were reelected. I won't know until they announce at Fanfest," was my reply. 

"Won't you be at Fanfest?" I was asked.

"No," I would answer again and again. "I am not going to Fanfest this year. I went last year and it is not a cheap trip."

"Oh." Then someone would ask me again.

I never did understand why people thought I would go to Fanfest. I had never announced that I was going to go. Yet, there was an expectation of it. I had been to Fanfest once, the previous year. I had enjoyed myself. Iceland is a fascinating country and different from anywhere I had visited before. It was also expensive. IcelandAir holds the monopoly on travel. I was fortunate that my local airport was one of their stops. It decreased the price some but it was still an awkwardly expensive trip for the value that I had gotten out of it.

Being a nobody in Eve at large events is an interesting thing. My immediate social circle was small. Few had the means or interest to travel to Iceland. That meant that I drifted through Fanfest alone. I spent my evenings writing about my days and summarizing the events and round tables for those who could not be there. I spoke to almost no one. People knew who they where there to see and their gazes slid off of me as soon as they realized I was not someone that they knew.

The life of a wallflower was familiar. The lack of socialization did not disturb me. It also did not open my pockets. If I had been inclined to make the trek to Iceland, I'd have been inhibited by something else. The general embarrassment of finding out that I did not win the election. I was not expected to win but I still wanted to win. I had not put the time and effort into it not to win it. Losing would be unpleasant. Losing while in Iceland with the screen above me and my name absent would be worse. It was something I was not eager to pay money for. Because by the time Fanfest reached us, I had convinced myself that I had lost the election. 

Did I mention that the keynote was on the last day of Fanfest? It crawled over my skin and left me shuddering behind it. What was going to happen? Not the end of the world. I'd not rage quit. I'd write a simple post thanking everything for their support and apologizing for being unable to make it happen. Then I'd move on and leave it behind me. It had been an interesting experience and I had given it my all.

I was off work on the day of the announcement. I wanted to be at work to distract me. I also knew that I'd not be able to focus if I was there. Time crept by. I tried to sleep in and failed. I logged in and tried to be productive and failed. I wound up sitting at my desk in a state of non-productive anticipation. Then the keynote started and time started to tick by.

I waited and finally Hilmar started to discuss the CSM. Time slowed. I sat. I got up and walked out of the room and started to do the dishes. I couldn't deal with it. So, when I came back to my desk and refreshed the forums I saw someone announcing the results.I sat with my hands to my face and peered between my fingers like a child. 

That was my avatar’s picture and my name.

That was me. 

I had made it.

No! Yes! No! Yes! How? Really? Me?

I had wanted to win. At that moment, with my name listed there, I understood how deeply I had not believed I would win.

It was time to get to work. With Fanfest still playing out, I knew we'd not do anything for at least a week. I sat down and wrote a thank you post on my blog. It was not about winning, it was about moving forward. I sent eve-mails to people and groups to arrange meetings. I responded to the e-mails, eve-mails, and messages to congratulate me. I told people that asked me if I had won that yes, I had won.

The oddest congratulation was from someone I had run against. I had directly attacked his campaign. I had walked away while his corporation howled for me to stand and let them rip me apart. We had never talked. I had read what he wrote and briefly skimmed his occasional tirade.

“Hey have not had a chance to tip my hat and say great job.”

I said, “Thank you.” Because that is what you say even to people who you were at war with. 

“You will be busy but your passion will carry you thru. Make sure you balance your play time and don't let them suck the life out of you. I had dinner with [a member of the previous CSM] 2 times in Iceland and finding balance and a desire to play will be your hardest task.”

I don’t like people telling me how I am going to respond to things. It sets off every bit of stubbornness in me. “I suspect it is a bit different for everyone.” I have a terrible habit of deciding to prove people wrong when they tell me how I am going to behave or what my struggles are going to be. 

“Dont forget your to get on your coms and say hello and be a eve player first. CSM sucked the life out of [others]. Just remember you are a eve player first and not a dev want to be and you will do fine.”

I did not know how to respond. Gobsmacked shock was, I assumed not the correct answer. I fell back on mindless politeness. “Thank you,” I responded.

“If you need any back channel work done please feel free to convo me.”

This was really happening? Oh, I knew the stories that Eve is run in channels occupied by a handful of important people. I might have been a no-one but I did know that people who truly occupied said rooms wouldn’t wave it under my nose hours after my election while winking at me to give them a call when I needed stuff handled. “Uhhh, I don't know what back channel work is to be honest”

“Stand strong for low sec and [we] will support you every election. You will. believe me when the time is right.”

Some of it was strange stuff. None of that mattered. The shock of my win left me dazzled. I felt the same. Everything was the same. But, everything wasn't the same. Something had been accomplished and I had been validated and my methods and beliefs vindicated. While the win was in my name I was determined to drag the player base that had elected me along. This was not going to be about me and 'my' title as CSM. This was going to be about making the game a better place for its players.

Previous: Part Seven
Next: Part Nine


  1. "When I came back to my desk and refreshed the forums I saw someone announcing the results. I sat with my hands to my face and peered between my fingers like a child."

    Oh Sugar, I wish we had a picture of that. What delightful image :)


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