Why Do We Fight? #SaveCoH
This campaign to save City of Heroes has me wondering why I care whether this game that I currently do not play stays open, or closes down. I thought about it myself, and have seen other people questioning whether or not those making the decision should care about overtures made by people who aren’t supporting the game financially. It’s a decent point, if you side entirely with the frigid practice of profit and loss, and ignore all else. When it comes down to it, of course the puppet-master has the right to cut the strings or keep the show going – we supporters of the #SaveCoH initiative aren’t ignorant, and despite the appearance to the contrary, aren’t idealists.
I prefer to think of it this way: “Those who stand for nothing, fall for anything.” Simply throwing up your hands and saying “that’s life” is to acquiesce to living only one step above a vegetative state. You’ll accept whatever people tell you, take whatever life gives you, and won’t utter a whimper of dissent no matter what. I’ll admit that some things can’t be changed because we hold none of the cards, or lack key information. Our actions may not even dent the veneer of the situation. Thing is, unless we’re 100% absolutely, positively, beyond-a-shadow-of-a-doubt certain that any action we take is a wasted effort, then we’ve already lost, and we should be prepared to continue losing in the future because no matter what we think we know, nothing (aside from death and taxes, they say) is a foregone conclusion.
Writing letters, signing petitions, and joining your voice with others to make your opinion known is what we here in the U.S. have been raised on. Sure, we could shoot someone in the face in order to make our point like they do in some places on Earth, but as civilized people we elect to choose a different route: show support for what we believe in. Push the agendas that we believe in. Make those in power understand that their decisions aren’t just words in the form of an edict…they’re ground-zero of a shockwave that has consequences radiating outwards to affect hundreds and thousands of people who do have a stake in the decision that is made, financial or not. This campaign is our attempt to show NCSoft that those consequences extend beyond their ledgers.
Saying that the CoH decision is based on profit and loss is true, and it’s up to NCSoft to do what they feel is best for their business, and their investors. I’m not happy leaving it at that, though, because products like CoH aren’t cans of beans sitting on a supermarket shelf, or cars that drive off a dealer’s lot. They’re organic products that are created by talented people who love what they do and who put in long hours doing it. These are services that change and grow over time. Most importantly, they’re presented to us with a naked plea: Please, love our game. Gamers in 2012 are fickle, and it’s truly embarrassing how many options we have, all vying for our time. We could go anywhere, and play anything, and these companies know it all too well. Despite the up-hill battle that they encounter trying to market their products to a demographic that is literally awash in high-quality competition, smart companies know that it’s not just the graphics, or the systems, but the emotional attachment to the game, the world, your characters, and your friends that they need to foster in order to make their game stand out. If a company wishes to make life or death decisions about their service while willfully ignoring the fact that their customers have invested themselves as asked, whether currently or historically, then these decision makers aren’t in tune with their customers. For a company operating a service, that’s a cardinal sin of the highest order.
There is no harm in trying, and despite what some people think, many of us who are not currently spending money on the game do have a vested interest in whether the game persists or not. We had opportunities to enjoy this game, and believe that others should too. We have memories, and opportunities to return, even if we’re not thinking of acting on them at the present time. Discounting people’s emotional investment as a valid reason to fight is frighteningly easy for some on the Internet. Maybe engaging NCSoft and the decision makes will be met with stone-faced silence, or maybe they’ll push their financial case to a point of begrudging acceptance, but it’s better for us to try and fail than to sit on the sidelines as the situation steam-rolls over us. Today it’s CoH, tomorrow it could be anything if decision makers are lead to believe that their target demographic could care less or not.
I submit that simply throwing money at the company isn’t a show of support. It’s easy to set up a recurring payment and be done with it; it’s a business transaction, like filling the car with gas or buying groceries, and none of which requires “any skin in the game”. If you care, you need to fight. I could easily sit back and excuse myself by saying that I’m not playing or paying, and it doesn’t matter to me if the game vanishes. But I do care, and because “trying” in this case costs so little, I can’t imagine letting it go without a fight.