Chairman For Life

In a previous post of mine, I wrote a very tongue-in-cheek “what if” scenario involving the leak of the “Fearless” document, the Summer-of-Rage Incarna debacle, and (spoiler alert!) the fictional (?) Machiavellian involvement in the whole thing by The Mittani.

The piece was definitely written more out of fun than in any way actually suggesting what I was writing was hard fact; as it happens, after publishing it, I spoke with a few individuals who were all very close to the original “Fearless” leak and vouched that its release WAS in fact most likely an internal staff-leak, and that the whole thing happened fairly organically. Just the same, its fun to think of those hyper-schemed “what if” scenarios, and even though I never heard from him directly, I hope Mittens appreciated the subtle duel ribbing/endorsement.

On the subject though, it seems we’ve entered full swing on CSM 7 pre-election endorsement season. And, much in the same way famous actors and musicians like to espouse on geo-political issues with a sort of incomprehensible authority, it seems everyone with an Eve blog has a very opinionated idea on who you should vote for (on a related note, it never ceases to amuse me when people begin to mislabel their extremely loud opinions as important ones, but I digress). However, being that I just so happen to have one such blog at my disposal, and that I do sort of happen to be one of those somewhat opinionated aforementioned bloggers, I thought I’d join the party.

While I do have a number of people I want to talk about as perspective CSM 7 seats, all of whom I feel would do wonders for the group, I might save those individual endorsements and discussions for later posts. Instead, I thought I’d delve right into the meat of it all: how the CSM and CCP have grown up, The Chairman position, The Mittani, and why he just might be the best thing thats ever happened to the CSM.


The Change:

Two years ago, I voted exclusively with all my accounts for Carole “Mynxee” Pivarnik. Her campaign was flawless, her knowledge, commitment, and love of the game were in-assailable, and she was without question the woman for the job. The election results supported this, with Mynxee earning 21% of the top 10 votes in the final count.

CSM 5 though, unfortunately and obviously unbeknownst beforehand, was doomed. They fought an uphill battle every step of the way in dealing with CCP, as this was when the offices in Iceland still held a somewhat wary and slightly stand-offish opinion of the CSM. When you really think about it, CCP and Eve Online were two very different entities 2 years ago, or even one year ago, than they are now. The Summer-of-Rage and the eventual “peace treaty” brokered by CSM 6 have, in my view, dramatically changed the way CCP views its player-base, and in particular how it evaluates the the importance and relevance of its CSM. Remember though that CSM 5 were most likely the first people to made aware of the rash of bad decisions headed the players’ way on the eve of what would eventually be the toughest and most drastic transition in CCP’s history, yet were helplessly gagged by NDA red-tape and a seriously different internal corporate culture.

The point in saying this is that yes, the efforts and tribulations of CSM 5 have been more than slightly overshadowed by the victories of CSM 6, but we also have to look at this in the context of how the climate of the company itself has changed in the time between the two groups. Sadly, the tragic legacy of CSM5 is unfortunately pretty grim: two members have quit the game entirely, one was perma-banned for RMTing, and one turned out to diagnosably crazy: not the best parting track record.


Reveal Yourself:

There’s another facet of the CSM that I feel plays a MUCH bigger role in the way they act, are voted for, and perform as a group that people tend to overlook, which is simply this: while most actions in-game are tied to your character, your role as a member or potential member of the CSM is tied to your real life; there’s no avatar to hide behind which makes every single thing you do or say completely on the surface, and completely accountable for by you. As a result of this permanent and in-ignorable connection, people aren’t just voting for an Eve character (and all of its e-fame and history), but also for the real life persona that comes with that character, whether they realize it or not. The CSM is after-all, an out of game institution; if anything, voting for the real person is more important that who they play in-game.

To illustrate this, lets compare our current and former Chairmen, and how who they actually are is completely relevant to the game itself and when they served it.

First theres Mynxee; cute, whip-sharp, and loveable pirate queen of Eve Online; adorable mule-rancher living a quaint off-the-grid life in the real world. She’s affable, a little sassy, and looks like she might know your Aunt from church.

However, compare her real world and Eve lives with those of Alex “The Mittani” Gianturco: in the real world, a retired (?) corporate lawyer, young yet wise, worldly and abrasive, sharply witty and well spoken; he wears dark shades, gels his hair into weapons, and kind of looks like that guy who used to try and sell you ecstasy in college.

In Eve, his reputation speaks for itself: King of the Goons, leader of the most notorious (and largest) alliances in the game, puppet-master extraordinaire, and proclaimed Spymaster of Eve (by no less than Eve’s original spymaster, Istvaan Shogaatsu).

Real life is of course, not Eve, but when it comes to the CSM, the lines become unquestionable blurred, and the two become inseparable. With Mynxee and Mittens, the archetypes are all too different: Mynxee was the fun, utterly loveable “Ebil Piwate!” of low-sec. Through her presence on her blog, the Eve-O forums, and SHC, Mynxee endeared herself to the player-base. She won on a platform of honesty and complete transparency.

Mittens, on the other hand, shrouds himself in secrecy (and whether this is by chance perception or entirely calculated is indeed part of his allure), and ran on what can only be described as a platform of fear and suspicion. He won his place on the CSM through of course, the power of his household name recognition, but also through the sheer number of Goon-influenced votes flooding his way.

Actually, the difference between these two high-profile, strong-voiced, yet totally different CSM chairs is written right on their original campaign pages:

Mynxee’s CSM 5 page:

The Mittani’s CSM 6 page:

Case and point: read the first sentence of both campaign pages. Mynxee’s reads:

I love EVE Online and want to be an active contributor to its evolution.

Emphasis mine. Its hopeful, optimistic, and actively plays on the true fan’s desire to be a part of it all and help “pitch in” to make Eve a better game for everyone. Now take a look at Mittens:

They’re lying to you.

Emphasis, not mine, and a 180 degree turn from his predecessor’s. Its stark, it hits home, and it plays into every dark though you’ve ever had for CCP. If Goons are the common enemy of every carebear, anti-griefer, anti big alliance, and well, anti-Goon in Eve (one could argue that, like the boogeyman, the very existence of the Goons rests on their inherent ability to polarize and incite), then you need someone else to be the common enemy of both Goons AND their detractors. Who better then “The Man”?


Relevance is Everything:

With the CSM 7 elections on their way, the question hasn’t been “will Mittens be elected”, but rather “will Mittens be Chairman again”. The answer is, unquestionably, yes. The Mittani, in spite of (or more likely “to spite”) his critics, has turned out to be without question the strongest, most influencing CSM member and chair in the group’s history, and I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t get MORE votes this time around.

Yet the purpose of this post is not to distill this all into “Mynxee vs Mittens” ; as I said before, CCP and Eve are different entities and are playing a very different ballgame than they were 2 years ago, so to do so would be a somewhat baseless argument.

In my opinion, Mynxee was exactly who needed when we had her: she was strong yet intensely likeable, directed the attention of playerbase to the importance and reality of the CSM and its role, and absolutely paved the way for the next, more wary and more grown up relationship between players and CCP in the form of CSM 6. And if Mittens was elected out of sheer number of Goon followers the first time, his decisive actions and commitment to the cause in the aftermath of the Incarna catastrophe have cemented his place in the upcoming CSM. On top of that, his steadfast opinions on balancing the game, and his ability to carouse, incite, or even bully others into seeing his vision of a better game have made him an invaluable asset to anyone who even sort of likes this game. In the grand timeline of Eve Online, Mittens is exactly who we need right to helm the contingent of players who directly speak for us to CCP.

Put it this way: if an English rock band named the Beatles had formed not in 1960 but in 2004, would they still have become the most famous and influential rock band in history? Well, possibly, because they were all geniuses (yes, even Ringo, and I’ll defend that one if you ask), but what if they formed in 2004 and started putting out the same music that they actually put out in the 1960s? Doubtful; relevance really is everything.


Chairman for Life:

So yes, though I’m sure he doesn’t need it, consider this my endorsement for Mittens for CSM 7; not as someone who shares his tastes in wrecking havoc and mistrust (though I do), but as a fellow lover-of-Eve who believes that even when he decries, maligns, and trolls the hell out of it, Mittens might just be Eve’s biggest champion. Love him or despise him, The Mittani is exactly who we need right now.




~ by Aiden Mourn on February 29, 2012.

2 Responses to “Chairman For Life”

  1. I am humbled by your praise. Thank you. And thank you for recognizing that CSM5 and CSM6 had very different challenges to deal with. CSM5 was hands-down the most difficult business experience I have ever had to face–and I have worked on and managed some pretty challenging software development projects in my time! I had NO idea going in how challenging it would be. It is amusing how naive my CSM5 campaign thread sounds now, with the benefit of hindsight. But the underlying sentiments were definitely pure in intent–I am an open book; it’s just how I roll.

    It wasn’t just being on a very tough CSM that burned me out on EVE, although that was a big contributor. I *might* have continued to play if I had civilized internet and could justify the time needed to truly enjoy the game even at a casual level. But life has simply moved on. I’m quite happy lurking on the fringes 🙂

    And hey–I’m not entirely off the grid! We have a landline AND electricity (most of the time). *grin*

  2. This was a great overview and a wholeheartedly agree, both chairmen and CSM bodies did all that could be asked of them. In fact I have great respect for any individuals who volunteer for such duty.

    Whilst the NDA shroud remains and we are left with little more than conjecture and guesswork, here are my thoughts.

    Both CSMs could only play with the cards they were dealt and throughout CSM5, CCP seemed truculently determined to see their way through to a return on their WiS development, come what may. Faced with such corporate belligerence, at that point I imagine Mynxee and co. had little option but to throw themselves under the juggernaut or get out of the way.

    The acrimony I suspect that arose from the last weeks of CSM5’s term likely made the arrival of new faces a welcome one for CCP. CSM6’s first meetings probably found CCP’s direction and attitude little different from that experienced by CSM5, but all that was required of CSM6 was to settle in, mend fences and build new relationships. The Mittani’s repeated references to “drinking with the devs” certainly suggests this went well.

    So it was business as usual until Incarna release, the NeX controversy and Fearless/CEOmail-gate. It is my belief that at this point – whatever your opinion of The Mittani or the CSM process as a while – the CSM stepped up. They didn’t have to fly out for the “special summit” but they did so out of duty/ sense of responsibility/love of the game. They were able to play their part in pouring oil on troubled water. They stepped up. Cometh the hour, cometh the men.

    Now I have no doubt that Mynxee and co. or any of the previous CSMs would have done the same thing given the opportunity, but it was to CSM6 that the opportunity fell and in doing so scored the greatest PR coup in the history of the CSM. They played it well and appeared to be integral to the steadying of the ship.

    Furthermore they were effective in getting across the message of what would be a good strategy going forward. Whilst the playerbase as a whole was very effective and expressing their displeasure at what they *didn’t* like, I imagine it wasn’t easy for the CCP decision-makers to determine the right path ahead in the fire and brimstone. This was the key moment when the unified player voice of the CSM was critical.

    The Mittani was, I am sure, an integral part of the CSM team’s success and is as much a credit to EVE’s community as Mynxee was, but equally so were the other members. After all, the chairman role is really just a figurehead/posterboy role. I think all credit and respect from the entire playerbase should go to all past, present or future well-intentioned CSM members.

    [Blimey, I went off on a ramble there, didn’t I.]

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