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Letting players govern: what could go wrong... or right?

In Gamasutra's latest feature, the chairman of the current EVE Online Council of Stellar Management argues that player governments bring important checks and balances to developer hubris.
In Gamasutra's latest feature, the chairman of the current EVE Online Council of Stellar Management argues that player governments bring important checks and balances to developer hubris. "Initially written off by some as a PR stunt, the CSM has developed since its introduction in 2008 into a powerful advocate," writes Alexander "The Mittani" Gianturco. The CSM is a democratically elected group of representatives who interface directly with the developers of EVE Online and even fly to CCP's studio in Reykjavik, Iceland to meet with them. "Mostly the CSM functions as a sanity check for mid-level developers within CCP to bounce game design ideas off of; since EVE is such a complex universe, it's impossible for every game designer to have personal experience with every aspect of the game." "At other times, however, the CSM has been an outside source of pressure against CCP's management when it makes decisions which overrule the desires of their customers and the game designers, marshaling an impressive nexus of contacts in the gaming media and the player base to get that point across," writes Gianturco. "At one level, the CSM has improved the quality of the game and the lives of the players -- and thus CCP's bottom line. On another level, it has shown that a player advocacy group will not be co-opted by the sponsoring developer, and can focus player dissatisfaction into concrete action that can impact the company's balance sheet. A little democracy is a dangerous thing," he writes. The full feature, in which he argues that recent player controversies could have been quelled earlier on if the developers had listened to the CSM, is live now on Gamasutra.

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