Last night, Dirk MacGirk, reknowned EVE media impresario, invited me once again to join the OpenComms podcast crew. He had invited several candidates for CSM12 who have joined together in a "high-sec ticket" - a group representing interests of players who reside mostly in high security space. Knowing of my proclivity for the high-sec playstyle in EVE Online, he asked me to help query the candidates.
Roedyn, Toxic Yaken and Commander Aze gave a good accounting of their points of view, and how they'd like to see more representation of high-sec based players on the Council of Stellar Management. Incumbent CSM'er Steve Ronuken did not join the show, though we all agreed he is widely acknowledged as a high-sec candidate, as are others such as Lorelei Ierendi .
Dirk ardently urged players who live mostly in high-sec space to develop a coalition and assert themselves more aggressively for representation on the CSM. Despite his enthusiasm, I believe this would be very difficult to accomplish, if not virtually impossible. As I explained in my previous post, the established null-sec alliance power blocs are too well-organized, and as a result, dominate the CSM vote. In fact, I think it's highly likely that at least eight of the ten CSM12 seats will be occupied by null-sec alliance candidates - and there is a very good chance that they could take all ten.
Given the current CSM election process, is trying to organize a coalition to represent the interests of high-sec players folly? Or is my cynicism about such an idea misplaced?
What is a High-Sec Player, Anyway?
Even though more than half of EVE Online players operate almost exclusively in high-sec space, according to figures provided by CCP Quant, there is little consistency in what a "high-sec player" means. Mike Azariah, who also joined us for the show, and who was a recognized high-sec advocate on CSM8, CSM9 and CSM10, pointed out that there is a lot of diversity in how players operate in high-sec. It includes market traders, industrialists, mission-runners, explorers, miners, wardec groups, gankers, role-players, scammers and many other hybrids and mixes of available activities. There really is no one universal definition of a "high-sec player".
This diversity is what makes building a coalition of players who reside in high-sec space very difficult. Take the issue of war declarations, for example. As Dirk said on the show, "Wardecs are the abortion issue of EVE Online." Every high-sec resident has a passionate point of view on the subject - some against, some in favor, and too many with a nearly infinite number of ideas on how to change it for the better. Trying to build some sort of consensus on this one provocative issue alone is a daunting challenge.
The High-Sec People's Party
Dirk's idea of a "High-Sec People's Party", mentioned in half-jest, sounds attractive on the face of it, but I think high-sec players are simply too fragmented in their interests to consolidate under one banner. Under the current CSM voting mechanics, smaller constituencies have little chance of securing a seat, as they will be squeezed out by the relatively large null-sec alliance voting blocs.
The rare non-null candidate who can pull together votes from a variety of sources are currently high-sec's only hope of representation. Mike Azariah did it by appealing to mission-runners and small gang PvPers across all types of space, including high-sec - and he had to run repeatedly, year-after-year, to build enough recognition to secure a seat on the CSM. Steve Ronuken did it by appealing to industrialists and miners, and to developers and users of third-party tools, operating in different types of space across New Eden, and not just to high-sec players.
Alas, with the reduction of the number of CSM representatives from 14 to just ten, even a strong candidate with an excellent track record like good Steve Ronuken may be squeezed out of CSM12. When I look at what Roedyn, Toxic Yaken and Commander Aze are trying to do by coming together as a group, in hopes that at least one of them will secure enough votes to represent the interests of high-sec based players, I can't help but applaud their efforts. But I'm not optimistic that any of them will be able to get a seat on CSM12.
Nevertheless, as they all said themselves on the OpenComms show, by campaigning continuously and consistently, they are hopeful that they will raise enough visibility and support over time - but I suspect this may take several years to accomplish, as the examples of Mike Azariah and Steve Ronuken show.
I'm happy to help organize such a movement, though I've no illusions about how quickly we might see results. I hereby announce my support for the High-Sec People's Party, and am willing to lend my voice for better representation of this large and important group of players in EVE Online. I suspect we are in for a long march to reach this goal, but I think it's worth pursuing, even if it takes an extended time to achieve.
It's all about the numbers
One thing that all of us who play in high-sec can agree on, I think, is urging CCP to do more to drive a higher turnout for the CSM election. More votes mean a higher likelihood of a more diverse set of winning candidates. A low voter turnout means a higher proportion of bloc vote candidates from null-sec alliances, giving them a much higher chance of winning.
I had suggested a semi-crazy idea in my last post to force people to vote during the CSM election period, which I doubt CCP would ever embrace. But Dirk had a couple of good ideas for making the CSM election far more visible, which could drive up interest and voting tallies. For example, CCP could put a large panel on the launcher promoting the CSM election, with links to useful resources for learning more about the voting process and the candidates. CCP already proved they could do this with PvE events - why not do the same for the CSM election?
I hope they will surprise me with a far more aggressive CSM promotional campaign than we've seen in the past, since voting starts this week.
Sadly, I'm not sure that CCP really wants more diversity on the CSM. They seem quite content with a Council consisting of mostly null-sec alliance players. Perhaps they think that this makes the CSM more manageable, or they actually believe that null-sec players are the most active and knowledgeable in the game.
If my speculations are accurate, then we'll see very little promotion of the CSM election over the next month, voting turnout will be as low as previous years, and we'll get yet another nearly-all-null slate of CSM representatives.
But with persistence, perhaps we might see one or more high-sec candidates build support, and perhaps earn some seats on future Councils.
I'm willing to try to make this happen. What do we have to lose?
Fly safe! o7