For those who don’t know, I spend my weekends engaged in a number of incredibly silly activities that mostly involve my dressing up like other people and pretending to be someone else. I often joke that I have all the best escapist hobbies and to a certain extent it’s true.
Any group of people who dress up like other people for their own personal amusement will wind up having drama that doesn’t strictly involve the people they are pretending to be. In gaming circles, we call it out-of-character (OOC), as opposed to in-character (IC). You still with me? Awesome.
Arguably, one of the larger and probably better organized of these organizations that allow for a whole bunch of people to pretend to be people that they are not all together is the Camarilla, the official fan club of White Wolf (WW). White Wolf is a gaming company that produces modern horror games (such as they are) like Vampire: the Masquerade/Requiem, Werewolf: The Apocalypse/Forsaken, Changeling: the Shining/Lost… and a number of other games that follow similar naming schemes. In the above examples, the name before the slash were White Wolf’s first product lines, the name after the slash denotes their later product lines. The old stuff is called, collectively, the Old World of Darkness (OWoD) and the new stuff is the New World of Darkness (NWoD). White Wolf was bought relatively recently by CCP Games, the developers of EVE Online. You may have heard of it.
Last week, White Wolf announced that they would be ending their relationship with the UK affiliate and a lot of nasty words were immediately said, culminating in the General-OOC list being moderated. The UK set out their side of the story pretty quickly and White Wolf has yet to really respond.
Yesterday, White Wolf released a copy of the Affiliation Agreement
that was sent to the UK. Canadians have stated that this is the same agreement that they signed a few months ago. Cam folks - take a look at it; it's fairly instructive. And once you're done with that, once you've decided that WW is the devil or not, or that CCP should rot in hell or not, and have read all the evidence of saber rattling that's on the alterna-lists that have sprung up so we can all talk about how much we hate everyone in charge, let's consider a devil's advocate argument.
White Wolf and CCP are corporate entities which own the Camarilla. By being a member of the Camarilla, you are agreeing to abide by their rules. The US already operates with WW as being the highest authority. In the opinion of White Wolf, the contract that has been issued for Affiliates more or less brings the affiliates in line with what is already the case with the US.
As a corporation whose primary purpose is to make money, CCP/WW see the Camarilla primarily as being monetary asset. On the high end of the membership numbers we hear, there are 6,000 members who pay WW $20/year to be members of their Official Fan Club. $120,000/year in direct revenue, plus whatever indirect revenue is generated by 6,000 people who buy their products is not an inconsiderable chunk of change... but when looking at the type of money that is generated by EVE Online (with its 250,000 subscribers and more on the way), how much are those 6,000 members even worth? The answer is not as much as members would like to think they are. A World of Darkness MMO (which would have monthly subscribers) will be a steadier source of income, generally more reliable, and certainly less of a pain in the ass than a number of Cammies who seem to think that they have worth as human beings and not just numbers.
A lot of people are blaming Kelley Barnes in her position as Club Director and not sticking it to White Wolf, or speaking out against her employer if the views that she is expressing as Club Director are not her own - and there's a lot more discussion about whether White Wolf can be held liable for anything she says.
Can anything Kelley says be held against WW when she is speaking in an official capacity? You betcha. As the face and voice piece of an organization, hers is the voice that everyone listens to. It's a sticky wicket at the best of times and right now, with a number of people making nuisances of themselves, it's not getting any better for the Club Director. Jon Herrman has already spoken on behalf of Kelley's character; if he is at all accurate in his assessment, she takes her job seriously. Part of being a good employee is not badmouthing your employers publicly, even if you disagree with some of their actions. Think of it this way: the White House Press Secretary doesn't always agree with the President. It is still the job of the Press Secretary to talk to the media and not badmouth the White House in the process.
White Wolf has yet to release more than a terse statement that they are choosing to end their relationship with Cam-UK. A number of people are looking for an official statement, as some rather nasty accusations are being levied, but none of these accusations have been made official to the best of my knowledge - although the inability to post on the General-OOC list regarding this stuff probably isn't helping.
The moral here, kids, is to think long and hard about what you're doing in the Camarilla. In a cost/benefit analysis, is what you're putting in worth what you're getting out? Don't think just about the $20. Is the Camarilla worth your time in terms of drama and emotional investment? Do you enjoy playing in a global chronicle enough to want to continue? Once you have the answer to that, you probably have a better handle on how to respond - but perhaps we should wait until all the information is in before making any final decisions.