Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Is the CSM Effective?

I’ve started a post regarding the CSM about a dozen times now, not really sure entirely where to go after the first sentence. It is that time of year, where everyone is giving endorsements and suggested ballots. And I admit I’ve started down that path a couple times, as a list of saved documents on my hard drive will attest to.

But I think I will scrap them and talk about something else entirely. You can go read endorsements and excerpts about candidates elsewhere today.

Is the CSM effective? This is a question that has been asked before, perhaps not always with the greatest response. Those who question the effectiveness of the CSM are often scoffed at, mocked with sarcasm, or simply dismissed out of hand. I have often gotten the feeling that to some,(especially people in the CSM!) questioning the CSM’s worth is considered a ‘ridiculous’ thing to do. They point to a list of things that the CSM has influenced and ask, “how can you possibly question our effectiveness?”

I guess that when I think about whether or not the CSM is effective, I don’t necessarily think about their influence with CCP. It would be hard to argue that they are not influential on that side, given the things that I know and have observed.

I think about their representation of the EVE Online community, and how we only ever really hear a very small percentage of voices and opinions within the entire playerbase.

One thing that I have learned since I started blogging is that there is a sort of invisible line through the community. There are those people who actively engage in ‘outside’ things—they blog, they write on the forums, they run pod casts. And there is a huge number of people whose sphere of activity resides entirely embedded in game play, and game play only.

I know this, because I play with a great number of people who are not particularly fond or interested in the ‘outside’ parts of EVE. They might go glance at something on the forums if someone links something interesting, but they are there to play the game, not write or read about it.

It’s kind of a fascinating thing to think about. So often you see the idea expressed that EVE is more interesting to write about then to play. The irony being that the people saying this are the people who write about EVE, and that the number of people who engage in this way are a relatively small percentage of the playerbase.

I think that a huge number of the playerbase would actually disagree with us. Though I suppose that saying that is kind of like saying that trees make noise when they fall in the forest.

Xander Phoena recently wrote a post giving some statistics about how much of the playerbase actually votes in the elections. Last CSM, it was only 12%.

While I have nothing to backup this claim, I would argue that a huge number of that 12% are part of the ‘outside’ community. Bloggers, forums posters, and others who have make it a habit to engage outside of the game itself.

So, I guess when I question the effectiveness of the CSM, I’m not necessarily questioning the effectiveness of the CSM representatives, but rather how the institution works as a whole.

The CSM, by its very nature, seems to cater only to a specific kind of EVE Online player. And believe it or not, we are the minority. I have occasionally ‘poked’ people in-game regarding certain issues and been surprised at their responses. I think that the ‘outside’ community influences each other quite a bit, not just in our opinions and views but also in the things we decide are important.

I have often wondered how different things would be –how different the advice and suggestions given to CCP—if the rest of EVE somehow found a voice.


  1. Interesting point of view, and something I've noticed in other online subcultures, as well. Something that's a huge deal to bloggers and forum posters may not even be known, much less a huge deal, to those outside that circle.

    I'd like to see what'd happen if the "rest of EVE" found a voice. Do you think many of them even know they could have one? I've run across people who've played for a year or more and never heard of the CSM or been to the EVE-O forums. They may go to their alliance's private forum sometimes, but that's about it.

  2. You could say the same about RL politics. Or RL Celebrity gossip, or sports, or any of a hundred other things. Even in something as important as our children's education, only a small percentage "get involved" or "make decisions" or "influence events" regarding something as important as that. Raising four boys, I know that one first hand.

    I'm not sure it makes much difference. What you are essentially asking is for all players to be like us, when they clearly don't want to be. Content to just play Eve is fine in my opinion. The things I find interesting or important may not be to a majority of Eve players, and that is fine also. They are important to me. Certainly, I wish more people were involved, but they are not going to be.

    1. RL politics/education/celebrity gossip are all expressly designed not to be effective, at least not if we use Susan's definition where effective includes representative.

      If you think those are a good comparison to the CSM, then you have made a powerful criticism of the CSM.

  3. @gamerchick: you raise a very good point about the CSM. At best it is an entertaining distraction .. at worst it is a complete waste of time and money.

    As to the 'voice' of the player base? many effective methods exist and none are even close to a political circus that we have with the CSM.

  4. One of my RL friends got me into EvE. He's been playing since 2008 and makes it a point not to follow the forums or blog posts, or the CSM election, or any of that OOG stuff. He's definitely not plugged in to the metagame, though he does keep an eye out for Hulkageddon-type events. He doesn't follow any of that because, well, it's just not fun. The forums are more chaff than wheat and as for most of the rest, CCP will do what CCP will do.

    At first I thought he was nuts, but then realized a few months ago that keeping up with all the OOG drama had me on the verge of quitting EvE. Now, I've stopped following most of the blogs, and only pretty much just read dev blogs or the odd blog post (like this one). The odd part is, I'm enjoying the game so much more having almost cut myself off from the meta than I ever did when I was up to date.

    I'm not even going to vote for CSM this time. When it comes right down to it, such a small group can't truly represent my views about the game, and in many cases don't have the skills to do so in a way that benefits the game as a whole and not their particular part of it. Why should I try to convince a CSM member to try and convince CCP of the validity of my views? Why not just cut out the middle man and talk to CCP directly?

    The CSM is definitely of use as an expert focus group, but as for representing the views of the majority of players, I think Susan is dead-on. In that regard, the CSM is a bit of an echo chamber for the vocal minority of players that care about it.