The big news today is of course the announcement that Eve Online will allow players to elect an oversight committee, intended as a response to the recent charges of corruption.
I have to admit I feel ambivalent about it. I have been playing with the idea of player-elected representatives for a long time. At one point, I wanted the SWG correspondents to be player-elected. Ironically, players seem to react negatively to this sort of idea when it’s presented — take for example, the player commenter over on Scott Jennings’ blog, who basically dismisses elections of all sorts with the remark
So, players elect people to go check up on CCP. No way will those guys be favored stooges for the resident uber-guilds.
Kinda like Senators are favored stooges for lobbyists, I guess is how the logic goes.
Anyway, the thing that makes me ambivalent about it is actually what the role of the group is, and how they do it. They’ll be flown out to CCP’s headquarters (on the company dime) and they will be there to check for evidence of corruption on the part of the staff.
First off, a player-elected group of any sort can’t do this effectively in any way. Nobody just walking around an office can detect it effectively. Corrupt game admins don’t have posters on their walls saying “This is the gear I stole.” You can really only detect that sort of activity via careful monitoring of logs. In other words, an Internal Affairs department, which CCP already has.
The emphasis on flying out strikes me as odd as well. The main reason why companies fly people out is because people who are meeting face to face tend to have more positive impressions. It makes the company appear more human. the people flown out feel special.
Lastly, I guess that the thing that disappoints me a little is that what I really want a player-elected group for is so that they can help set policy — meaning, help adjust the direction of how the game is run. Game worlds are in an odd situation — if player governance, even partial, is a sticky subject even in the non-game virtual worlds (cf LambdaMOO, Second Life), it’s far more so in game worlds, where everything depends on every role in the game being made difficult enough, and the job of the designer is often to keep everyone down, so to speak.
But I can picture a system where players elect representatives — reps along the lines of Team Leads or correspondents, where segments of the game population are given a guaranteed voice. And then these reps are in the front lines of patches, get sent design notes in advance, and in general are used as much more of a sounding board — as a matter of development process and policy. As in, nothing goes in without that group’s signing off.
The reason to do this, honestly, is because not all points of view are represented on a dev team. Not all levels of expertise are available. And really, why would a dev team want to implement a change that a representative sample of the player audience all dislikes?
Based on the article, it looks like this isn’t the Eve player group’s role. And that’s a bit of a pity, because I want to see that tried.