More Meeting Madness
I’m a bit of a preacher on the topic of “Meetings” as I feel they are badly misused over 90% of the time. Most people in real life are non-confrontational, they don’t want to speak up and rock the boat, and meetings are often convened for the express purpose of letting someone stroke his ego. Several days of meetings wouldn’t improve this. If I’m a CSM rep am I going to choke-slam Fozzie on day one meeting one knowing that for the next three days I have to work with him? Hell no, he’ll stop responding to me productively and we’ll be wasting our time, so I go cautious, I go neutral and I save my bullets. The minutes is full of this sort of thing.
Groupthink is a phenomenon that occurs when everyone in the room adopts the stance of the “Alpha Male” if you will. The person presenting is in a position of authority, the people in the room, unless primed to resist, will tend to agree unless things are egregiously wrong, or the presentation is actually a question. We see this on gate guns, we see this on Seleene and Elise talking about Supercaps like having 16 or 17 titans is “Not a lot.” We see this throughout. The minutes don’t read like a concerned player group holding the game developers responsible, but instead they generally read like a long meeting on a friday afternoon, heads nodding let’s get to the bar.
I don’t lay this at the CSM’s feet though. Because it isn’t. It’s meetings. It’s the environment. On the forums and even on their blogs the CSM’s will rail strongly for or against, not bleating, not head bobbing, strongly voicing their opinions. Hans has been extremely candid whenever I’ve been able to corner him on Skype whether on the record or off. These aren’t timid people. You don’t get on the CSM by being timid, but, except for the CSM 6 emergency summit and the CSM 5 laying some smack down, there’s no real urgency, there’s no fire, there’s no confrontational push.
In the absence of that we get a CSM that head-bobs on an issue that should have ticked them off, that should have lit off some warning flags, that should have gotten their spider-sense tingling, if not their common sense. Instead we get non-confrontation, followed by months of silence, followed by the minutes, followed by GAMER RAEG!!1!!1!!!!11!one!! followed by Hans waking up from his Icelandic booze and women induced coma and saying:
“After the flood of player feedback as well as my own urging for him to reconsider this, its no longer an idea that is being pushed forward anyways.”
It’s one thing for CCP to present in Iceland. It’s certainly more productive than emailing PDFs with super-secret-squirrel youtube links to their CSM reps. It’s another to plan on three days of meetings being productive when, in order to fulfill it’s duties as a sounding board, the CSM has to be free to be confrontational, even harsh, in an environment that is conducive to anything but. The more impersonal the contact is, the more people in the meeting are free to “Be a dick.” When people on both sides need something from the people on the other side, there tends to be either very little conflict, or tons of it. When the goal is to be at the bars in three hours there tends to be very little conflict.
The presentations in Iceland need to be just that, presentations. If there’s any feedback sought it needs to be open proposals, not “We want to make this change” but “What changes would you want to see with regards to this.” Details need to be picked over with more time available, with more distance, and with more gravity. It’s much easier to tear apart your shiny proposal when I don’t have to depend on you to buy my drink in a few hours.
CCP is and should be lauded for their use of the CSM. The last three CSMs should be highly regarded for their activity and impact, but there’s always a way to improve. There’s ways to make this better, more effective, and more useful both to CCP and the players.