Wall Of Text - Online

An emerging dynamic where the parts individually smaller than the sum find themselves at odds.

No, this is not a rant. But a call for a moment of reflection. It is time for all of us to stop, breathe, and think. Before we act. Consider this a call for care, and caution. For easier reading, if you do Facebook, see here. This blog’s design is bad, yeah, I know =/

It’s not been a fun week, to say the least in EVE Online. There is plenty to read elsewhere on blogs, media has picked up on the turmoil and the debate, community forums all around are burning. I’ve been brooding on writing something for days now, but I could not find the proper words to describe my own reservations or thoughts. But, so be it, I will just spill my brain onto the table. If you want to read, be my guest. If not, nobody is forcing you.

The emerging dynamic that constitutes CCP Games and its Customers has found itself at odds.

That is something important to think about for a moment, since one of the reasons that EVE exists and has grown so well (and why it is so great) is exactly that: CCP and its Customers are part of the same dynamic.

On a business level, even on a level of product development and on the level of enjoying everything the game (and all around it) has to offer, it is not hard to observe that there is a strong element of mutual dependancy and synergy between the two parts of that dynamic.

I’m not saying that EVE is or should be subject to merely the wishes and wants of the customer, nor am I saying that EVE is or should be subject to merely the wishes and wants of the company that created it. It is a road that both parties walk together. Now sometimes obviously they don’t walk hand in hand, and sometimes the company needs to make choices for the health of the dynamic in spite of the customer. And sometimes the company needs to listen to the customer, ofcourse - as a company you cater to your markets (existing and prospect ones). I can make a wall of text on that particular topic, but at the end of the day this simply comes to two simple things: excess or extreme is never good, balance is always better.

In a way, you could say that when CCP created EVE, they became a parent. In more ways than one. When you create something that amazing, something that provides such deep experiences and connects so many people, yes, CCP’s statement of sentiment of the past that EVE is their baby is very true. But like all parents, a balance must be sought between the relationship and the parenting. And the baby, has to learn to grow up, and make a life.

That this is also business, is a definite variable, but it is not the only one. If CCP did not virtually own the market of “sci fi virtual world” there would be a lot less room for such a consideration. But they do. And that is good. Yes, also sometimes a little bad, because it provides a lot less stimulus for the company to maintain watch on the state of market forces internal to the existing customers. But overall, it is a good thing because it does provide CCP with a position of semi luxury that allows them to branch out and diversify without too much risk for the existing customers (and thus, itself).

Do I think that CCP can capitalise on the industry trend of microtransactions without risking the core of the functionality and growth of the dynamic? Yes. But that is simply not for me to say. It is their company, these are their choices. But considering the circumstances I do hope, and trust, that this is something that in light of the turmoil will receive proper reflection and study.

It is clear now that the current execution and method does conflict with the current and existing customers. Not all of them, ofcourse, but substantial amounts - that this distinction between individual and group is important is something I touch on later in this document. Does it mean that CCP cannot do what it aims to do? No, they can, and as I said there is in my opinion ample room to do so without that risk of affecting current customer groups. Not even in effect, but even in perception. That is after all what defines reality.

As I said, I can write a wall of text on that from a strict and pure enterprise management perspective, but it is simply not up to me to do that. That is in the corner of CCP, and they do have their instruments there for synergy and validation of information. But as will become clear throughout this document, this requires a conscious investment of will, time, energy and effort. Do I think that CCP refuses to engage in that? No. If only because this is business, this is quite simply in their interest as people and company. And they have demonstrated in the past - regardless of state of game or current circumstances or even how that took place or how long it took - that they do engage on such challenges.

While the focal point of the debate revolves around the matter of microtransactions, at the heart of it all, lies fear. In many forms and shapes. From both sides, as it appears, even if the fears on each side are different ones. But it is not a fear of change or inability to change. It is a fear for the experience and a fear of where the road leads to. As human beings fear is something we carry inside, as survival instinct even at the very base of our existance. It leads us to creating tools to conquer our environment with yes, but it can also lead us to creating tools of destruction. More importantly, fear can lead us to behaviour that forces the choice on to us to be destructive or constructive. Unfortunately, as social animals, that is something where the individual capacity to think and decide can all too easily in a group dynamic forego that required willfull action to stop and think, and then decide, together.

When CCP created EVE Online, they did so to make a dream come true. And over the years more and more people bought that dream, and shared it. With themselves, with others and with CCP. That is after all what they created it for. A dream, where anyone can be anything you’d want to aspire to be. To have impact, to be different, to leave your mark, and to enjoy yourself. Alone, and with others.

I will not go into the causes of the current turmoil, as I mentioned before that is information unfortunately readily available on the internet - with the caveat that as customers we simply currently do not know the root causes that have resulted into the divide between Company and Customers.

Should CCP provide insight considering the circumstances currently? Perhaps yes. EVE’s customers are not exactly the dumb types, on the contrary. Putting some faith in both the parts and the sum of them is not a bad thing. Reflexive behaviour and assumptions are just never a good thing, no matter what side of which picket white fence you are on. On a more practical level, considering this grand sum of parts that we all live in one way or the other, it should be self explanatory that as it is so close to real life (and for the CCP part it is their real life) communication and validation of information is paramount to maintaining those two elements of mutual dependancy and synergy.

That being said, I’d like to take a moment to look at the situation from a different angle.

Why? Because regardless of the current situation and turmoil, we should not forget that it is not just business or game. Regardless of whether we’re CCP or Customer, at this moment we are still in it together, even if we are divided.

The dream that is EVE Online was created by CCP, for themselves, and for us. No dream should die that easily. Yes, we can wake up from dreams, but that is a different matter alltogether. Especially in virtual worlds we can make our wishes and wants become virtual reality. In EVE, we can do so to such a high degree that the experience of it is not just that of a game. But much more than that. Even if we wake up from a dream, to take on the day and life itself, when we go to sleep or take the time for ourselves, the dream should still be there to embrace again.

At the end of the day, regardless of the current divide, we should not forget that in spite of historic issues or frustrations CCP did give us EVE, and that there is more than just CCP “the company”. There is also CCP “the people”.

Yes, there are issues. Yes, there is loss of belief, and loss of trust. And a lot of emotion. Ofcourse that is the case, we are after all human, regardless of what side of which fence we currently find ourselves.

And that brings me to the point here. The events of this mess have been hectic, and have followed each other incredibly rapidly. Faster really than anyone has been able to process. We’re all human beings.

At CCP, there’s roughly 600 people at work. Regardless of what we may feel about a possible strategic direction of the company and its consequences for our gameplay we cannot forget that as human beings on any side of any picket white fence things must take time. If only because otherwise all you are left with is kneejerking. For us as customers there is no “other” EVE. For us as customers, kneejerking does cost us a lot more than just a game. But the people at CCP, it costs their livelihoods. And all of us it costs a dream.

I’m not saying that is what will happen. It can, I hope it does not. But never before have I seen such a divide leading to such strong reflexive behaviour on both sides of the fence. And that is a shame, because ultimately the cost of that is the death of something great, and the death of a lot of people’s livelihoods.

Is that worth it? I don’t think so. At such high potential cost, I think it does not hurt to take more than just a moment to reflect and analyse. Yes, as individuals we make our own decisions, but very often as human beings we make decisions as groups, and that is something which can very easily create behaviour that in spite of best intentions is destructive rather than constructive. Especially when people are divided, when they fracture into seperate groups, the divide between them and the absence of communication and information (in many ways the absence of synergy) all too easily leads to patterns of behaviour where individual groups only reinforce their own perception and convictions - regardless of causes, risks, circumstances and yes, even regardless of facts.

That goes for CCP, that goes for us customers. And without each other, we loose more than just the sum of the parts.

As I said before, there is more than just the individual customer. There is more than just CCP “the company”. We are all people, and at some point no matter what the current situation is or even what the state of the dream is, that is what still binds us. As people, who share or want to share the dream, it does not hurt to take the time to sort through it all, to observe, to analyse, to communicate. If only because the cost for all of us is more than just the cost of the loss of a dream.

I do think that everyone, on any side, realises now that there is a divide. But it does take time to sort through things, and get things right. It should take time for that. Because reflexive behaviour, simply is never a good recipee for anything. Think about it for a moment, extremes are never good for anyone. Maybe for a brief moment in short term, but never in the long run. 

So I am just going to throw this out here. Can we all, CCP and Customers, stop for a moment and sit down to breathe and think. The situation of turmoil is clear to all of us. And no matter causes or case, I personally think that it is well worth it for all of us to do exactly that. CCP and Customers are at odds, but think of how to best resolve such situations between people. You first calm down, you gather all information, you sit down together, and you take the time to make the effort to step into each other’s shoes.

There are three currencies that reign for this (or any) dynamic. Belieftrust and emotion. Yes, two of those have been compromised in many ways and directions, leaving only emotion present as currency right now. And that is obviously not a stable situation. A tripod, on its own is by default not stable, as even the loss of one legg topples it. That is why it is so important for communication and validation of information to be consistantly engaged in. All the more reason to stabilise the emotion, embedding it so that it does not topple, so that belief and trust on and between all sides can be repaired. But that does require from all of us the choice to stop, breathe and think. And then to communicate, validate and work together. 

This requires conscious and decisive action from all sides. In full openness and honesty, as without that, no human interaction is stable. Openness, honesty, balance, are keys that enable us to deal with anything. As long as we want to. Personally, yeah, I want that. And I do believe that it is possible. Even feasible. In spite of the current situation, I strongly believe that it is not just a must, but that it is also practical. But only together.

Is EVE worth that? I think it is. Are livelihoods worth that? Hell yes. Is a dream worth that? Fuck yeah.


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