Space politics

I’m not much for politics, politicians and the laws they author. I’d much prefer a well-reasoned discussion with all interested parties culminating in an agreement we can all live with. Unfortunately that ideal is extremely difficult to realize. And so it is with CCP and their creation, New Eden.

With the growing realization that players were important to EVE and that they likely had very good ideas about the natural laws within the universe of New Eden, and knowing that conducting discussions on an individual level with every player was impractical, CCP set about establishing a body of advisers to represent the players. This body was created with the explicit goal of giving societal members (players) influence over how society is legislated (read: the order of the ones and zeros that make up New Eden’s laws as ordered by the developers). But this body neither empowered nor burdened with the task of legislation itself.

The goal of CCP is to provide EVE ’s individuals with societal governance rights. In similar fashion to a realworld democracy models, candidates will be selected by fellow peers to be the voice of their interests to the legislator. Once elected, the responsibility of these representatives will be to uphold the society’s views as best they can via direct contact and dialogue with CCP. Central to this concept is the idea that increasing the “utility” of eve’s society will encourage more individuals to join it. (The Council of Stellar Management: Implementation of Deliberative, Democratically Elected, Council in EVE, page 9)

Society, here, refers to all of New Eden’s residents, not simply those who PvP, those who hold sovereignty or those who vote. And from subsequent statements in this charter it is clear that CCP intended this body to represent all players.

The deliberative democracy is a hybrid governance solution which combines consensus decree with representative authority. In this system, every individual is considered equal and has the right to voice an opinion whose relevance carries just as much weight as every other voice in society. Since creating an authentic deliberative democracy is impossible due to the technical means through which EVE is supported, the proposed implementation of this concept will rest more upon representative individuals to steer a common voice. In this way, the consensus of deliberative minds and the open discourse of issues will be the primary vehicle of political change within society. (The Council of Stellar Management: Implementation of Deliberative, Democratically Elected, Council in EVE, page 12)

It is worth noting that the implementation did not match the ideal vision; technical implementation and the real world impeded the idyllic vision. But CCP trudged on secure that human thought and action would drive ever closer to their vision of a deliberative democracy even while the CSM was established as a representative democracy.

The key difference between a deliberative democracy and representative democracies is that Representatives do not rule on behalf of constituents. Instead, they act with the consensus of the entire constituency as they present collective interests to the legislator. Every citizen owes the others justification for the laws imposed upon society; in this way, the theory is “deliberative” because of the social cooperation required to bring issues to “lawful” conclusions before a governing assembly. (The Council of Stellar Management: Implementation of Deliberative, Democratically Elected, Council in EVE, page 13)

The ideas presented are sound when considered in an ideal world where elected representatives are public servants and not self-serving. Sadly, they break down when introduced into a human world — especially one where there are only virtual consequences. CCP attempted to consider the meta-gaming realities that could plague the process but fell far short in their forecast.

There is a metagaming component to the proposed implementation in EVE, particularly where it concerns voting. For example, each real-life individual can hold many game accounts, each of which has at least one virtual persona controlled by a single owner. Although this technically gives more weight to individuals with an external monetary advantage, the impact is negligible in the greater scale of participating voters. Furthermore, the possibility exists that constituents will be apathetic about their voting power, just as in real-world politics but being aware of that possibility is the most powerful weapon in countering it. (The Council of Stellar Management: Implementation of Deliberative, Democratically Elected, Council in EVE, page 14)

Several years later, the landscape looks completely different. The original intent and document are long forgotten. The CSM chair himself has declared that he is not responsible for the cares of the player base, but the cares of his constituents; the constituents that quite obviously have been told to vote and who to vote for. If the mandate is to do what the constituents ask, but you have told the constituents what to ask for, then the society as a whole is no longer served.

The CSM, whether knowingly or unwittingly, have pushed for greater and greater power and responsibility. Along the way they have gained a bevy of willing allies in the most vocal segments of the player base who have become disenchanted with CCP’s direction. What the minds behind many of these voices fail to realize (or fail to discuss) is that the average players are not among them and these voices are not representative of the whole player base. Now, having not quite the power they believe they deserve, the CSM are attempting to blackmail CCP with threats of bad publicity.

Reality is now further from the ideal than ever and there is only escalation on the horizon. While it’s easy to blame the institution, I like to think in more human terms and place the onus on the people. As Marc Scaurus phrases the problem, the current CSM membership has been fostering an attitude of us (the players) versus them (CCP) when instead it should be one society working for the common good.

Player apathy is the other end of the spectrum. Not apathy with regard to the game and its content, but apathy with regard to learning about or influencing legislators and their legislation. Though I write this as if the average player may read it, I know that in fact it is unlikely to be widely read. The readers are most likely other bloggers, forum dwellers or the odd space nerd that arrived here quite by mistake.

So if some players care too much, other players don’t care at all and some players haven’t even started playing yet, what is the way forward? How do we represent players who don’t care to be represented? That is why we pay CCP. The ultimate form of influence will always be with your wallet — but be prepared for the eventuality that you are the only player who voted that way.

Afterthought: I hadn’t written this as an entry for the blog banter — rather it was a foot note in response to Rixx Javix and Marc Scaurus. However, it is a direct hit on the topic put forth by Seismic Stan at Freebooted as he continues to push the blog banter forward. So, here is a list of the other participants as pulled from Stan’s current list.

~ by paritybit on 2011/09/13.

7 Responses to “Space politics”

  1. stopped reading after i read about ‘governing’; csm is more meant as a voice for the players not as a government.

    and frankly speaking, the current csm is a csm that got to the council with scamming, manipulation, propaganda and lies,
    and is supported by the eve-tabloid blog/news scene.

    no sane player in the world would feel represented by this scum.

    • Yeah, it is pretty clear you didn’t read the blog post because, while I wouldn’t phrase it quite like that, I tend to agree with you.

  2. “The readers are most likely other bloggers, forum dwellers or the odd space nerd that arrived here quite by mistake.”

    Or…. have been following your writings since you ran for CSM yourself?

  3. Nice post. The previous CSM did a lot of good, working with CCP. This CSM reminds me of those single issue organisations that espouse the virtues of democracy as long as they have the ear of those in power, but resort to playground tactics if they don’t.

    Meta-gaming is part of EVE, and always will be. Goonswarm meta-gamed to get control of the CSM. They by no means represent a majority of EVE players though and their opinions should be taken in that context. Thankfull CCP seem to be onboard with that.

    • Thanks.

      I’d like to see something done about voter apathy, but honestly I’m not sure how much that will help.

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