Friday, March 11, 2011

What's in a ballot ?

The booths are open, and as usual, half the debate surrounding the election process is about the very purpose and usefulness of the CSM, and mainly the following two questions:

  • What can a CSM delegate (or the CSM as a whole) hope to achieve, really ?
  • What (if anything) will CCP listen to ?
The CSM as an entity has been growing older and wiser, starting with CSM 3, and quite a few among this year candidates already have some first hand experience of the process, as full members or alternates in previous councils, or as ex-CCP employees now running as 'simple' denizens.

Most of these seem in agreement about at least one thing: "Be realistic, people !", and they make a case for both voters and prospective delegates to be lucid about what to expect from the CCP/CSM tandem.
…convincingly so, for any hope roused by earnest (or manipulative) candidates during campaign will turn to tears and disappointment upon meeting CCP's :awesomeness: in the flesh.

Of course, this seems like a self-serving argument from those who can claim some prior experience, maybe an attempt to discourage new blood and fresh faces from joining the party, but I reckon it goes beyond that.
Even current delegates who don't seek re-election and confess their personal mixed feelings about the whole process argue for a sanity check.

The facts of life about the CSM go like this:

CSM members are not consultants/guests game designers. 
No matter how bad anyone would want it, or delude themselves in believing, CCP expects the CSM to act as a relay to the player-base, a sounding board, a focus group, a marketing gadget, but certainly not peers or by any stretch of imagination the stakeholders they're advertised to be.
CSM delegates who fail to wisen up to this reality will squander their energy and the trust of whoever voted them in trying to achieve something they can't.

…and has many faces.
Some among the devs welcome the input from the players in principle, and the CSM's especially, as it is a more civilized, constructive way to have a sit down with users than the usual brouhaha of the forums.
And then there's the rest, who see the CSM as a curse cast upon them by some PR demon, who trust the whole thing to be nothing but an act, and will begrudgingly waste a few hours of their time every other month making nice with the delegates of the pleb they not-so-secretly despise.

People who wing it oftentimes aren't so comfortable with being called on their shortcomings, which is unfortunate for the CCP-CSM relationship, considering CCP tends to ride without a map, fueled only by beer and :awesomess: while the CSM is typically not in the bring-good-news business.

Short of killing the whole thing however, CCP will have to get smart about this, because the CSM is not waiting on them, and gains political weight with every cycle.
Either CCP finds a way to make productive use of the CSM by embracing the monster they've created, or it could end up biting them hard enough to cause serious bleeding, both on the PR front and internally.

With that said…
If you don't know who to vote for this year, here are my suggestions (in alphabetical order):

  • Alexander Gianturco, a.k.a Mittens.
    Goonswarm spymaster, retired lawyer and all-around weasel. If anyone can metagame CCP into self-destruction doing right by the players, he's your best bet — assuming he can put make the player-base interests his own.
    Will be good fun to watch if, as is his stated goal for the election, he manages to grab chairmanship of the 6th CSM.
  • Iain Compton, a.k.a Helen Highwater.
    He's so perfect for the job that the only reason CCP didn't hire him yet is because they feel queasy and inadequate around him — also possibly because he knows he wouldn't have half as much fun if he was working for them compared to being a free agent as CSM delegate.
    Iain was on CSM 4 and 5 as an (active) alternate where by all acounts he did a pretty good job, and he doesn't look like he's running for CSM as way to land a job in Reykjavik (see above).
  • Mark Heard, a.k.a Seleene.
    (In)famous for his past as leader of Mercenary Coalition (in game), and as CCP Abathur (out of game), Mark is a veteran of all things EVE on a grand scale.
    Although he suffers from an adorable crush on himself, he's been through enough to have a fairly good sense of what he can get away with in a position of CSM delegate, and he's on a first-name basis with most of the playas in Team Awesome, which can be decisive when playing in CCP's frat-house.
    Also, Mark and Mittens on the same team, comedy gold.
  • Robert Woodhead, a.k.a Trebor Daehdoow.
    Suffice to say the guy fathered Wizardry and builds combat bots in his spare time, but in case that wasn't enough, he's proven himself through CSM 5 by picking battles he knew were worth the effort, and — as importantly — he figured the CSM could win.
    He's got the just the right amount of crazy and speaks the voice of reason. Also he's old enough to impose some measure of respect to the other nerds.
  • Stephan Pirson a.k.a Meissa Anunthiel.
    Stephan brings the longest CSM experience of the lot to the table with 4 terms behind him. Smart, knowledgeable and even tempered. Despite a stupid tolkienish character name,  he could act as a voice of moderation amidst the highest-voltage types in CSM 6.

If none of the above does it for you, if you still believe you should pick your candidate based on their announced pet issues with EVE, or just for the hell of it, may I suggest you go check Dierdra's ever useful Vote Match site.

As for me ? I more or less evenly split the two-dozen-or-so votes at my disposal between the 5 above candidates, so if you feel lazy, here are their names again, with direct links to their respective voting pages.

If you have lapsed accounts, you can take advantage of the 5 free days reactivation offer to get back in just long enough to vote. 
Intentional ? Surely not, but I'm all in favor of bitter vets stuffing the boxes.

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