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A Lady's Journal
Musings of Improvement
[Cam] Devil's Advocate 
5th-Mar-2009 01:25 pm
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.
(Deleted comment)
6th-Mar-2009 12:13 am (UTC)
yeah, my interaction with CCP has been EVE as well.

the fact that they usually have people who play the games on staff seems to give them a real vested interest in what the product is they are putting out.

That being said, of course finances will dictate to a degree how much the company has to invest, and how much leeway they can give the people who work for them when it comes to being an advocate for the game in question.

Sorry to hear the CAM is being affected by management tho. No matter who you are, or what you are doing, getting dictates from above always suck.

But yeah, its all about the cost to fun ratio. if it gets out of balance...its time to make a change.
5th-Mar-2009 11:15 pm (UTC)
Well said.
6th-Mar-2009 12:53 am (UTC)
Great writing. About the most unbiased, thoughtful piece I've seen. :)
6th-Mar-2009 01:12 am (UTC)
I'm not sure how genuinely unbiased it is; I did basically call CCP/WW capitalist scum. :) However, it's my genuine belief that when you join the Cam, it should be with the understanding that it is only partially a democracy - and the higher up in the organization you go, the less it resembles a democracy; it eventually becomes a republic and when you come right down to it, it's a semi-benevolent dictatorship with delusions of fairness. That's the biggest problem that people have here... they think that the organization is run for them, the members. This is not actually the case and suddenly a lot of people are beginning to understand that. Unfortunately, the UK is caught in the middle of it all.
6th-Mar-2009 01:12 am (UTC) - By CCP? Wow..its like a marrage in heven..
or hell.

EvE survives not on the game itself but by the drama the players create. One of the things that prevented me to get into WW as a kid was that the local 10 person chapter were...well... freaks. Not the good "Goth", "Geek", or "Emo" kind of freaks, the kind of freaks where there was one girl who was "around" but no one wanted to touch her anymore. There was the guy who just caused drama and the guy who didn't care and was there for the beer. (Its texas:P)

Coming from a nerd who like straight rules, it really made me go to D&D, not that it was THAT much better.

So now CCP bought WW, maybe for an MMORG..... There are 22k people on EvE right now... As John Lennon once said, "Imagine all the people."
6th-Mar-2009 01:19 am (UTC) - Re: By CCP? Wow..its like a marrage in heven..
http://www.white-wolf.com/index.php?articleid=629 -- I guess it's been longer than I thought. Time flies and all.

However, the Cam also largely survives on the drama its players create. Global plot usually sucks. The best global plot I've seen was when the OWoD was ending its chronicle, and some supremely good plot was being handed down for Werewolf: the Apocalypse. Otherwise, global plot is nothing to write home about. If you're lucky, your ST has a little leeway to do some interesting stuff with it. If not... well, you're better off finding your own drama. It's the best thing that can be said about the Cam - is that rather than finding your drama with the ten guys you play with back home, you have 4-6000 people to find that spark with. Sometimes it's awesome. A lot of the time it's bad. For individuals, it's often a question of how much of the bad are they willing to put up with for the good. For me, the good is often *so* good that I'm willing to put up with a lot of shit to play the game I enjoy.
6th-Mar-2009 05:30 pm (UTC)
From here, it sounds a bit like the drama from the last big switch - when white wolf swallowed the NPO, which would be when any illusion of "By/for/about the players" technically ended, although the delusion has re-accured endlessly ; )

Regardless, I made that decision...wow...years ago now. It just aint worth it to me. I'd rather be (insert other fun activity here), although I do miss some of the people sometimes and have many fond memories.

Time does fly,

6th-Mar-2009 06:29 pm (UTC)
It's a lot of the same stuff... and a lot of people are citing that this is the worst thing that's happened since 2002 or the chronicle reset. I'm working on a post on why resets are necessary to keep a game healthy, but that may be a few days out.
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