This has been an important week for our American readers in terms of elections, but now that the minor distraction of real-world governance has been dealt with, it's time to focus on governance in the MMO space. You've got to keep those priorities straight, after all.
The polls are now open in EVE Online's second Council of Stellar Management (CSM) election, where players can vote for candidates to represent their interests before CCP Games... and potentially impact how the game evolves. We can already sense the impulse someone, or several someones, out there has to comment below: "But why should I bother voting? What do they even do?" And to be fair, it's not been very transparent what the CSM has been up to (aside from the meeting minutes), but more so what effect they've had on EVE and its development pipeline.
This is the subject of CCP Xhagen's latest dev blog, which highlights the contributions of the first CSM, hopefully instilling some motivation for more players to vote in the current election. "Why should you vote? This question is asked in every election, not matter there said election is being held. The answer to why you should vote in EVE is that the CSM is there to influence us in regards to EVE," CCP Xhagen confirms.
Although it's been stated at several points that the results from much of the first CSM's work will not be seen until further along in the development pipeline, he highlights some of the changes already made to EVE through interaction between CCP Games and the CSM. Namely, the Orca being introduced in the Quantum Rise expansion, repercussions for suicide gankers, the new weapon grouping feature, and Alchemy.
Regardless of your view on how effective a representative council can be in an MMO, the fact remains that no other game out there allows for this in any substantial form. Even gamers who don't play EVE might find the concept interesting, and -- stripping away the PR benefits CCP Games can clearly garner from the CSM's existence -- these may well be the first steps towards how developers interact with their playerbase as the MMO industry matures.
The first Council of Stellar Management probably faced more resistance and intense scrutiny from the player community than the future councils will. Given this sentiment, will the second CSM fare better than the first, and build on the foundations that have been established? That remains to be seen, but EVE's players do have the power to put who they choose into office and see what happens. Whether or not they exercise this option is another matter entirely. And perhaps that's another parallel that can be drawn between the real world and the virtual.
The election will run from November 7th to November 21st, and all active accounts are eligible to cast a vote. For more info about the candidates and their views, you'll want to check out the Jita Park Speakers Corner forum and the Council Candidates page, which lists the real life name, character info, and personal web page for each individual running for office. And of course, those EVE players with a good idea of who they'd like to see elected to the second Council of Stellar Management can step into the voting booth right away.