June 28, 2008

The Inaugural Meeting of the Council of Stellar Management

MMORPG's continue to fascinate me:
REYKJAVIK, Iceland — This city near the top of the world has a distinguished history of hosting summit meetings. Presidents, prime ministers and premiers have come here to discuss their differences and chart earth’s future.

Yet mere planets were beneath the concern of the nine leaders — warlords, religious crusaders, industrial tycoons, freedom fighters, university dons and banking moguls — who temporarily set aside their differences last week and gathered here under a banner of peace. After all, they had an entire galaxy to consider.

Of course that galaxy does not really exist. Yet for the more than 200,000 players of the science-fiction game Eve Online; for the company here that created it, CCP; indeed for the broader concept of how companies relate to their customers, the inaugural meeting of the Council of Stellar Management was a watershed in the evolution of online democracy.

Corporations of all sorts have long used focus groups and surveys to find out what their customers are thinking. With the Council of Stellar Management, CCP has taken that idea an unlikely step further: allowing its customers, the Eve players, to elect their own representatives to express concerns and suggestions directly to the company. CCP then flew the nine players here at its expense to wield the brickbats. The company plans to repeat the exercise every six months.
Read the whole thing in the NYT.

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