Charlatans and Space CliquesRixx Javix
1. a person who pretends or claims to have more knowledge or skill than he or she possesses; quack.
I am not a charlatan. My entire career is an open book and can be found relatively easily through a solid Google search. I worked hard for three years to convince CCP to open the door to fan-created art and the creation of a better store. I survived several threatened legal actions, ban hammers, and many other obstacles before that finally happened. I created over 150 posters, each of which took between 8-40 hours of my own personal time, in order to offer 8 of them to the Eve community. I did it to prove a point and to open the door for myself and others, to work more closely with CCP and to create legitimate and legal solutions for selling Eve merchandise and other fan-based products. And yes, I would like nothing more than to continue doing so. If that makes me a charlatan, then so be it.
As a life-long risk taker, entrepreneur, business owner, advisor and creative professional, I’ve gotten used to the idea of rejection. It comes with the territory. Ultimately the market is the deciding factor in what succeeds or fails. Many great ideas have failed to capture the hearts and minds, much less the wallets, of the marketplace. It is often a cruel and unforgiving world. Not all projects of merit succeed. I’ve seen this and experienced it firsthand many, many times over the past thirty years. So it is with a seasoned perspective that I sit and write this response to a recent article over on TMC, an article written by Sion Kumimoto entitled “Shake It Off”.
I’ll be as up-front about this as I can be. I supported the Fountain War Kickstarter despite serious reservations up until the very moment I finished reading this article. I have expressed those reservations publicly on my own blog and on Twitter. I have tried to present both sides of the argument as to the project’s own merits reasonably and thoughtfully. On the one hand, I have serious reservations as to the overall merits of the project. On the other hand, I do think a book about Eve would be great to have. As always, I am rather passionate about Eve Online, and our community.
Our community is much like the marketplace. It can be a fickle, constantly moving, rapidly changing, and incredibly diverse entity. This is, after all, the strength inherent in the entirety of the player-base. It is global, constantly changing, and for the most part, incredibly passionate. I am a part of this community. I’ve spent the last eight years supporting it, helping it, creating content for it, flying in space with it, and learning more about it. Meeting some amazing people. In-game and out.
In this light it is hard to fathom the roots from which Mr. Sion’s article springs and the understanding from which it approaches our community. It is incredibly disingenuous to blame the community for acting exactly like a community is supposed to act. A community, like a market, is a filter through which ideas, products and services succeed or fail. There can be a thousand reasons why one has success and another thousand reasons why another does not. But none of those reasons are the fault of the community to which you wanted to sell the idea in the first place. Perhaps he had some other charlatan in mind when writing his article?
“And let me be clear before someone claims I am simply using ‘Grr Goons’ as an argument. I have nothing against Goons… / …This has nothing to do with GSF/Goons/CFC/Imperium.”
Specifically in this case, the success or failure of the Fountain War Kickstarter has nothing to do with the Eve community and everything to do with another, smaller, community. And no, this smaller community is not Goons/CFC/Imperium. Those are Eve players and they are amazing and wonderful people just like you and me. And let me be clear before someone claims I am simply using “Grr Goons” as an argument. I have nothing against Goons. Anyone who knows me knows this. This has nothing to do with GSF/Goons/CFC/Imperium. Instead I am referring to a much smaller clique headed by a person that has made it clear he fully intends to make a living from his position. A declaration and desire that is not inherently wrong or right by the way, it is after all only another “sell” that the community either supports or doesn’t. But the entire history of this clique has been insular and self-serving, a self-created world unto its own. They are not part of the greater community and have no desire to be. There are countless examples of this over the years, so it would be difficult to argue otherwise. This group created and perpetuated an identity that has served them well over the past decade. They created this, no one else did. And let’s be frank here, it has worked extremely well for them. As far as Empire building goes inside of New Eden, well done.
But like a bully that suddenly finds salvation, they are now astonished that the rest of us are wary. And that we might have the audacity to harbor reservations about their pet project. A project sprung fully formed from those self-created minds that form the basis of that small insular group. And like any rejected bully, they now see no other recourse than to lash out at the very people they wanted help from. Our community is suddenly hypocritical, we don’t understand, we must hate Goons, or Jeff Edwards, or something must be wrong with us. You people just don’t get it.
“You people” is what I kept hearing while I read his post. Not us. Not our. This is the pure unadulterated expression of the very guile and arrogance from which many of our reservations stemmed. As if to prove the point of those already inclined to pounce.
I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve sat with a business leader and listened to them tell me how incredibly amazing their new gizmo is. How it will change the world. How simply telling people about it will guarantee its success. And I can’t begin to communicate to you how few of those gizmos actually make it. So few do. The “idea” of this Fountain War Kickstarter is a great idea. An idea full of merit, potential and reward. It would be amazing to have. It would have been cool.
“You cannot ignore the marketplace and then expect it to welcome you into its arms.”
And it isn’t Jeff Edward’s fault. And it isn’t the Eve community’s fault. And it certainly isn’t CCPs fault. Despite what anyone says in the next few weeks there is only one small group to blame for the ultimate failure of this project to gain traction with the Eve community. You cannot ignore the marketplace and then expect it to welcome you into its arms. You didn’t ask the community for help. You didn’t approach any community leaders for support. You didn’t build consensus. You didn’t garner a ground-swell of grassroots passion. You haven’t participated in anything other than your own self-interests for so long, that you forgot that the community has its own interests.
If this Kickstarter fails there are a thousand reasons why. It was launched without prior support from the community. It was launched during Holiday season. It was launched without proper thought given to the rewards. It was launched with an overly aggressive and confusingly large initial goal. (They are called stretch-goals for a reason.) And it came from a source that immediately garners suspicion, distrust, and wariness. All of which is self-created and perpetuated by that very self-same group.
If this Kickstarter fails it is not a failure of the Eve community, it is a success. This is exactly what community’s like ours do, they filter, decide, and ultimately judge what they will support and what they will not.
If this Kickstarter fails then it does so because it was ultimately judged not to be worthy.
That is, and always has been, the power of the Eve community. Ignore it at your own peril.