Monday, March 11, 2013

Earning Endorsements

Choosing who to vote for in the upcoming CSM elections is harder than ever.

For one thing, the Single Transferable Vote means that you need to identify 14 people to vote for instead of just one. Sure, you can only fill out your ballot with a smaller number but if you do that you effectively give more power to people with the patience (or vindictiveness) to fill out all 14 slots. And if your vote gets transferred below your list of desire candidates than it effectively gets wasted. Don't waste your vote.

For another, the role of the CSM has evolved far beyond anything it was when it started years ago. It has moved from a player sounding board only halfheartedly used by CCP to a full stakeholder in development. CSM 7 has had unprecedented access and input into the process and CSM 8 should be continuing in that vein, thus choosing representatives for that elected body is more important to the future of Eve than ever. No jerks nor assholes need apply.

So we, the voters, need to put more effort than ever in finding the right people to assign our votes to. What follows is my criteria list of what I want in a good member for CSM 8.

1) Shares my Eve values.

What I mean by this is that at the end of the day we agree on a large majority of the big issues and questions facing Eve in the future, or at least our visions on "the way things should be" are compatible in the board strokes even if they differ in the fine details.

Respects different types of game play? Wants greater variety in types of space? Believes super cap jump range is an issue? Concerned about lack of sub cap options to deal with super caps? Wants local in null sec to be delayed? Wonders if greater protection for newbs would be a good thing? Wants the directional scanner revamped? Thinks moon mining is a abomination? Wants to move alliance income into "bottom up" model? Wants to give corporations more power and alliances less? Etc etc etc.

Now I'm not looking for a complete match, that would be near impossible. As long as their reasons and logic for why they think things should be different from what I think seems based in reality and strong rational thinking, I'm willing to give them the consideration of my vote. However, if they agree with me but got there but a completely ludicrous and illogical set of steps, I'd consider voting for someone else.

Which leads to...

2) Is Intelligent and thinks logically.

For the most part, Eve players are pretty damn smart. But you need to be a cut above the average pilot in order to be considered for CSM in my opinion. You need to be able to look at CCP's plans and ideas and pick them apart point by point in a short order of time, because you can bet for sure if you don't some of the players will when it hits a dev blog near you. Find the loopholes, mechanic blunders, and possible outcomes simply based off a slide show in a meeting. Its a challenge and you need to be able to do it to serve the CSM adequately.

3) Can communicate well.

Being smart and sounding smart are two different things. You want someone who can be both: smart enough to swim in the deep end of the mechanics and social outcomes pool and capable of explaining your opinions on these issues to people in the CSM, the developers at CCP, and ultimately the player base.

And communicating does not always mean with friendly parties. You need to know how to communicate in hostile situations, how to drive home points when the opportunity strikes and how to back off when the channel is obviously closed. Somehow the CSM member needs to be able to build bridges and not burn any down despite the best efforts of people around them.

At the same time, as part and parcel of point (2), they need to be able to listen well and be willing to revise their opinions based on new information or information shown to be incorrect that they believed was true. Its hard to change your mind when being aggressively attacked; our pride can make us defend a point long past rationality, but a good CSM member will be able to do so.

That's very useful for...

4) Making Compromises.

A good negotiator knows that to get something you sometimes need to give something up. The CSM is made up of 14 of the biggest egos in the game at any one time and a person looking for my vote needs to be able to work with them (or at least the active ones) in order to reach consensus without abandoning all principles. That means knowing it may be necessary to give ground on one topic and digging your heels in on another. You don't to always give way or else you are nothing but a nodding head; you don't always want to demand your way or you are impossible to work with. Finding that balance is the hallmark of a great team member.

On top of all that, once you as CSM have reached a consensus with the other members, you then need to be able to take that and reach compromises with CCP. And then turn around and sell those compromises and agreements to a playerbase totally removed from the process.

You know what? Add this to the list...

5) Willing to take a lot of abuse.

CSM is a thankless job. Some people at CCP see you as a bunch of entitled yahoos with no realistic knowledge of game design or how "things were meant to be before the players ruined it". Some players see you as useless windbags and propaganda machines of CCP's marketing department.1 Its a safe bet based on previous CSMs that half the members will be dead weight at best. All for no appreciable advantage in game and a questionable "free trip" to Iceland that costs you vacation time and time away from family.

On top of all that, you are expected to put in 10-20 hours a week on average (according to current active CSM members) to discuss all the items and processes which leaves less time to actually play the game.

Um, tell me again why you want to do this? Why anyone would want to do this? In the real world people get paid for this type of work.

6) Joy of the game.

Ultimately, one thing I want in a CSM member is someone who really truly loves the game and wants it to be better. Passion is hard to quantify but I know it when I see it. I also can tell when someone is running for the attention instead, and let me tell you, it burns me when they get elected and end up doing nothing. I want to find the people who voted for them and give them a shake.

* * * * *

The worst part of all of this is I have to make a determination on all of these points based on what I know of someone in Eve. At best you have a couple years of posting on forums and blogs to make a judgement call. At worst you never have heard of them before they announced they were running. In real politics you can see what they have done in the past based on public record and investigative reporting. With Eve, everything is suspect and part of a possible giant troll or plain old lie.

What this means is that you need to give the people running for CSM some benefit of the doubt and assume, unless shown evidence to the contrary, that they are being sincere in the fora and blogs and podcasts you observe them in.

So now that I've outlined my guidelines for what I am looking for in a candidate to vote for, I am going to compile my list and when the voting is about to begin I will give my endorsements.

1 - Its also useful if you have a thick skin and don't get riled easily. Some people on CSM 7 really need to take a chill pill. ;)

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