Virtual Realities: Memoirs of an internet spaceship politician
by Sugar Kyle CSM9, CSMX
My two worlds gave such different expierences
Perhaps, the mistake that I threw myself into things. Once the firsts few weeks passed things started to pick up and slow down. It was summer in Iceland. Development teams would go on vacation. It seems that Iceland has an enormous number of bank holidays during the warmer season as well. But, I had started to gain some footing and develop my own style.
The development style has changed. With the release of Eve Online: Rubicon, CCP had decided to move away from the expansion system. Instead of developing for six months and releasing set projects, they would do small releases every six weeks of what was ready. This gave teams more flexibility and the hoped for result would be features would come out complete instead of being unfinished or diminished due to time. Hopefully.
The change was strange for all of us. Teams started to be able to take on small projects and just ship them. The CSM became involved every single day in what was going on. Instead of a development cycle where the decisions had been made and the product had to be produced and then refined with a huge dead space in the middle, we wound up with projects that shipped fast. Larger projects might take longer but it became a developmental flood.
Those that had been on the CSM before agreed that we were busy. I loved it. The productivity could be measured in released. I started to ask questions to work on reactions to large scale items. One of the developers dropped a huge bombshell right before he trotted out for his vacation. He led us into a discussion where jumping a ship, Eve's version of teleportation, might be reduced to one light year. It was like someone hit us with a bat made of cold water. It would change the entire game and I couldn't let anyone know that it was in a developmental mindset.
I had to lead conversations and discussions into directions that would create feedback and reaction. I would message people and ask them random questions and attempt to generate thought. I'd write about topics and see how people felt. I was proud of my results and the feedback it produced was read by some developers. However, none of that work showed on the outside and I believed that people would understand that I was working and give me the opportunity to produce something.
It didn't quite work out that way. For you see, I left my corporation that summer. Only three months after I joined the CSM and weeks before the first release that incorporated some of the small fixes I had gone over with them.
I very much loved my corporation and the game of Eve that I played. We played as outlaws of a sort. We considered ourselves pirates. Our status kept us out of the lawful areas of the game. With Eve's true loss mechanics, we put ourselves and what we had at risk when we undocked. I enjoyed the adventure of it. I had spent the prior two years sharing my gameplay experience through my writing and now I wove it into my CSM efforts.
Deep down where I did not admit to others, I also harbored a hope. I was one of the younger members of my group. Not in true age but in time in the game. I tried to compensate for my experience by doing other things. I took on tasks that were not favored by others. I did things such as logistics and managed markets of supplies for others. I came to love these tasks and define myself by them. In battle I took on some of the less flashy support roles. They were not as impressive as the big ships with the large guns but I was an important part of the fleet. I enjoyed it immeasurably and I believed that my CSM term would tie into everything else I did and cause me to become a valuable member of my group.
The hope that I harbored was to be important to those that I played with. I didn't want to be another replaceable piece. I wanted people to want me to be there. I felt that my corporation would be proud of my position on the CSM. They'd be proud of me and support me and together we'd make Eve an amazing place.
Beautiful dream that was.
The reality was I didn't have as much time for my corporation. Most of our bonding time was during our fleet roams. My work schedule already made the nightly roams hard. I needed to go to bed by ten at night so that I could get up at five in the morning. Our fleets often got started at nine in the evening and before the CSM I'd often stay up and short myself a few hours of sleep. After the CSM, I had to read mails, respond to people, have discussions, respond to CCP, write up and catalog ideas, and have meetings with players. My evenings would vanish reading mail, forums, and blog posts to keep up with the player mood and feeling. What time I spent away from this I used to cook dinner and walk my dogs. What had once been an open schedule suddenly became not enough time.
The first, softly spoken laments were some of the most painful things I had ever heard in game. “I won’t vote for you if you decide to run again,” said my CEO. “I’d prefer a pilot over a CSM member.” It was a joke. It was a lamentation towards wanting me there. It was also a cold shock. In one moment my work, success, and future potential were thrown aside. It was amazing to know that they wanted me out there with them. It was devastating to know that was more appealing than the sum of everything else. The CSM was important to me. It was mildly interesting to them. They were proud that I had won but winning wasn't enough.
I couldn't make it all work. With my lack of time in space, fighting with my corporation, my value decreased. It became a scramble to keep up. Last minute decisions by my corporation to deploy to another part of the game became a nightmare. I had to choose between fleets or my CSM work. I chose my CSM work and balanced my time with more support activities.
A disconnect grew. I should have tried harder but the call of my elected office won. It wasn't just about me. I could put aside my familiar activities for a while. After all, it was only for a year. I could do much for the health of our area of the game. I could see more then the latest fight and for some reason I thought everyone else saw it too. That was incorrect. I was not participating with the corporation. The activities that I did in game which benefited my corporation were personal projects and part of my urban renewal goals. They were not cooperation projects and they did not count as participation. With my general and constant worries about my value to other people it was a heavy blow. My projects and their importance shattered into a million pieces and blew away on the winds of no meaning. I thought that I had been bringing value to those around me. I thought what I did while not glamorous, was important and valuable.
I was very much in love with my own hope. For others, killboards, the mark of a player and corporations activities outweighed everything else in the game. If I wanted to be valuable to my group, I would dedicate myself to our killboard. My other efforts with support were not necessary. I had been told before that others did not need me to do those things. I thought the CSM would be an extra thing. Instead, it became a barrier that started to grow. I was hurt and a bit embarassed. My previous CEO's mantra that bloggers had extreme egos and that was why they blogged came back to me. I was an egotistical monster that thought the world circled around them. A useless one at that.
I started to withdraw. I threw myself more into the CSM to console myself. I might not be able to share the work that I did but I knew that I did it. I could not share that some of hte very complaints that they had were being addressed. I would have to hold on until later in the year before I could tell them what I had done. But once I did, they'd be able to see that it had been worth it after all.
I lost my confidence in things. Things were changing in my life and spiraling around me in incredible ways. I was facing future tasks that I had no idea how I would handle. I felt a responsibility that made my shoulders ache and my soul cry out. I did not seem as calm and relaxed as those around me. The other players seemed to shrug off the duties. Prior members spent their time making bitter and condescending statements. People who I did not not know now looked to me with dreams in their eyes and hope in their hands. It was all so intense, so serious, so incredible deep that I wondered if I was some strange, weak, broken creature to not push it all to the side, ignore everything that might be, and go and pretend as if nothing had changed when everything had.
Something seemingly small was the end point. It was an argument. I had a corporation member that I had known since I was a new player. I thought that we got along. He had taught me much and I respected him. However, it turns out I was not a person that he respected. I made a complaint one evening after a busy string of work and CSM. My corporation decided to move and create a new ship doctrine. I would be spending billions again, for a doctrine I didn't agree with. I felt it was foolish for what they wanted to do and I had no interest in joining that battle. On that day, I voiced my opinion and the response that I received from R- was, "u have issue with everything."
I lost my temper. Some of it had been brewing for a while. As much as I believed that I loved my corporation I did not love every member. I had experiences that had left me resentful. I had been lorded over one to many times. And my temper lost I talked back. Normally, I'd just shut up and wait for the argument to pass. That day, I decided to stand up and give as good as I got.
It didn't go well.
My first argument started with one of the oldest members. He was someone that seemed to enjoy pointing out the flaws in other people. There was always some obscure skill that I had not yet trained that he would go, "Oh, you don't have that to five yet?" Five being the max for a skill and a max that often took weeks to obtain. I had always tried to avoid angering him to avoid his condescension but this day, I was not in the mood for it. I waded into battle which surprised everyone. I felt glorious. The excitement of the argument was mixed with the fact that I was standing up for myself. For, perhaps the first time, I felt confident. I believed I had gained enough value to be on even footing. I didn't have to hold my tongue anymore. Hadn't I proved that the world had greater dimensions? I had watched my corpmates bicker and fight with each other and I had abstained. I didn't have to do that any longer.
Or so I thought. Unspoken rules are not equal for everyone. I was quickly called out for being aggressive and moody. I was told to fly a support ship and stop complaining about the doctrine ship that had been selected.
That was my second temper loss.
R-, the corpmate that had told me to shut up and stop complaining, was someone that I had been avoiding for almost a year. Months before, he had chased away another member of our previous corporation. He was a serious player and disliked others making the same mistakes over and over again. He was not afraid to share that opinion and one particular evening he ripped into a loss that person had made. He was vicious. Horribly vicious and I found myself watching this without comment.
What type of person did that make me? I don't enjoy fighting for the sake of fighting. Yet, I just sat by while he said terrible and vicious things and the other person decided that maybe he didn't need to spend his evenings playing anymore. His interest had been going downhill and this last deluge was the push he needed to unsubscribe. And there I was not saying anything.
Standing up for someone is an interesting thing. I don't think my support was wanted. It was appreciated. R- did not appreciate it. R- in fact told me to leave the discussion because it was not about me. "I'm making it about me," I said. "I'm not going to stand here and not say anything." His solution was to mute me so that I could not speak in that channel any longer. I am all in once I start. I logged in another character and started to speak with them. "Mute or ban all of my characters," I told him. "You are not shutting me up."
Since then my relationship with him never healed. We didn't speak and rarely interacted. I avoided him and often closed the channels that we shared when he logged in. For a few months I had left him behind when I changed corporations. Then he came to the same corporation. My CEO at the time knew we had issues and that he could be a vicious being when he chose. He told me that I could veto his enrollment. That support made me feel strong and a veto felt selfish. After all, I was the only one who abhorred his behavior. Others should not suffer for my intolerance.
How I wish I could take that back as now, almost a year later, we ripped into each other. I didn't back down. Not when someone tried to change the topic. Not when another person told us to fight in private. No, I laid it out.
"So just shut up and do whatever no matter what reasons I have? And how dare I say I have an issue with something or dont like something because what right do I have?"
"u have issue with everything," He responded.
"Your right. I do. I should instead follow your mellow, easy going examples where you've never had a problem with anything."
At the time I was thinking of his tirades. Tirades that had been cast upon almost everyone for any mistake and loss that happened. He believed in being good and calling out the bad. Every mistake someone made was laid out. No one had escaped his wrath. But today, I was powerful. Or I was until, RZ said, "r- is saying that it doesn't matter if you cant fly the main doctrine ship, you can still be useful in other areas. he just isn't saying so very tactfully."
I do admit that I blinked. I could have backed down but I was all in at the time. "Its okay RZ. I'm in the wrong and I complain about everything."
RZ tried to calm me down, "Thats not the way to be. r- is making my point, but he is making it like his usual self. it doesnt matter if you cant fly the doctrine ship, it matters that you are there."
I was supposed to go, "You are right. I'm not being constructive and I shouldn't argue." That wasn't going to be said on this day.
R- filled in for me. "u cant help those that dont want help RZ. i dont think after 3 year of bein in corp she understand that."
That was when we were told, "How about we stop bashing each other in corp chat, hmm? That would be nice. If you have a specific problem with someone, work it out in private"
R- laughed and RZ said, "Chill out r-. your brand of harsh realities with brutal language isn't helping the situation."
R- laughed again and agreed to stop. I was in a pause. I'd have kept fighting but my mind was working over things.
The solution was, "Go fight in private." The solution was not, let's not treat each other like crap. R-'s behavior had not been chastised. RZ had instead softened the terms. That meant hat R- was considered right and I was wrong.
My mood deflated and with it went my argument. I stared at R-'s last line to RZ. The one when he said that after three years I didn't want help. I remembered with startling clarity a time, almost two years before, when I had refused to spend time on the test server with R-. He was teaching combat styles to other members of our corporation. I had been told to log in and train. I had refused. I was chastised for refusing but I refused.
It made R- angry with me. I remember him ripping into me for not being willing to improve myself. How, I was skipping opportunities to learn combat and tactics. I never said the reason why I had skipped those things. It was simple enough. I skipped it because R-, when he won those training sessions which was almost every time, celebrated. He laughed and taunted the loser. He enjoyed his win and I didn't want to become another number on his scoreboard for him to smirk and taunt.
That was the day I chose to leave. It would take me another three weeks to gain the courage to do so. I was afraid to step off into the unknown. I didn't feel valuable to a new corporation. I wasn’t even valuable to my own. What I had was what I had always known. It was everything that I loved about the game. It was safe and comfortable. No one was kicking me out. I believe my feelings would have shocked some. One or two knew something was up by how far I had withdrawn. But, I couldn't stay. To stay would condone the treatment that I found unacceptable. To keep speaking up would have me chastised again and again. At the end of the day, I was the sensitive one. I was the one with the problem. It was a familiar place.
In the end I reached out to a friend that had left the corp some months before. He left because of the same persistent meanness that I did. That bullying and vicious jockeying that was supposed to be competitive but was actually mean. He was my campaign manager and he had moved to a corporation that was similar but utterly different. They were well known for flying big toys and taking down big things. They were beyond my abilities but I was frightened to be alone.
Together we worked on my application. In private I wept for what I was going to give up. I felt so very alone. I thought that people would be disgusted with me. My corporation was my world. They were the most amazing people in the game. I was nothing away from them. Was it only three months before that I had cheered for what we as a corporation would achieve together? Was I betraying the people I so cared for? Other's would think so. Some would think that I waited to move until after the election. There was always the whisper that I was taken in just for my CSM position. I
That CSM position. It was the reason everything had changed. I told myself that it was the right choice. I had been voted in by almost two thousand people. My corporation contained less than thirty active members. I looked at them and I said that the needs of the greater game population was more important than their desire to have me readily available in case combat happened. I felt incredible guilt over my decision but it was the one that I chose to make.
Whatever came from this election, I had brought it on. My early hopes might not be going as I had planned when I ran, but I had made a promise to those that elected me. I wasn't going to slow down. I had too much to accomplish. I might no longer have some of the things I loved but I'd never fully lose it. It made me what I was. It was how I got here. Now, paths had diverged. It was unfortunate. It was painful. It was unwanted. It may not have been the correct decision. But, I was walking blindly down a path to a future I no longer understood. I'd stepped onto it, I'd started walking, and I'd complete my journey.
Previous: Part Eleven
Next: Part Thirteen