~~~Linden Lab announced today that they have a new CEO coming on board in January: Rod Humble, who will be leaving a vice president post at Electronic Arts, where he oversaw the Sims brand.
So what does this mean for us, the surviving residents of SL, the unpaid part of the equation that creates the content that makes the platform an attractive and viable product?
Well boils and gurls, I ain't sure. My inclination is to say that it's a good sign, suggesting that LL isn't getting ready to pull the plug on SL anytime soon. And I like the idea that the guy comes from a background that actually involves games and online communal activity (he had a role in Sony's Everquest before going to EA). But I've been wrong before. You're welcome to ask any of my former spouses--I'm sure they'll be happy to tell you in detail exactly how much I have been wrong before. So here's some random evidence I have collected, which I invite you to review and consider, and then we can try to arrive at some conclusions together:
First off, here is a picture of Mr. Humble in his work space:
You will note that not only is Mr. Humble not a terribly pretentious looking dude, he's got toys on his desk--there's a little tank and some ships, and other crap, not unlike the crap I have in my office. So he's human--that kind of bodes well...maybe.
I also found a blurb from when he was made a VP at EA back in October 2008:
"Humble will be responsible for The Sims Label, which develops and markets life-simulation games and online communities with an emphasis on creativity, community and humor."
I like the fact that when he was moving up the food chain at EA, among the things they mentioned about the brand he would be managing was the emphasis on community and humor. Those are things I value highly, and hopefully he actually has s commitment to both of those ideals.
That said, I must admit I find it mildly disturbing that he worked for EA. I haven't had anything to do with that particular company since the days of The Sims Online, but when I did have some dealings with them, the people I was interacting with were a mixed bag--some were decent, straight-shooting types; others were consistently condescending, manipulative pukes. So it could go either way.
I will admit to having been a bit confused about when Mr. Humble actually joined EA--it turns out he went there in 2004, but it is unclear to me as to how much he was involved with TSO before it was killed off in August '08. He seems to have been more directly associated with the various offline manifestations of "The Sims" franchise, so hopefully he isn't burdened with any of the responsibility for the incandescent three-ring cluster-fuck that was EA's mismanagement of TSO. That is, however, only my impression of the circumstances. I'd love to get to ask him if he had any hand in what happened to TSO, and what kinds of lessons he thinks might have been learned from that particular adventure.
For that matter, it would be fun to talk with him about what kinds of things he discovered overseeing "The Sims" lable from late 2008 until the present. If you read the comments made by "community members" on Sims forums, many of them don't seem to have thought very highly of Mr. Humble. Again that could bode either ill or good--the things that they seemed to have issues with were an alleged interest on the part of Mr. Humble to introduce "rpg" elements into The Sims, and downplay some of the more supernatural aspects of that game brand.
To be honest, I have no idea what the frenchfriedfuck those people are talking about, but hey, maybe it's important. Myself, I could see some real benefit coming the addition of "rpg elements" into "The Sims," even though back when I played it, mostly I just liked to build shit.
The key thing here is that as far as I can tell, Mr. Humble isn't a bean counter like M was supposed to be. That could be a bad thing if he's into the whole hippy-dippy, do what feels good, oh "we don't need things like deadlines" philosophy that made Phil Rosedale such a a mixed blessing. The last thing we need is another CEO who doesn't establish clear goals and standards for his staff and insist that they be responsible and productive.
On the other hand, as a person who apparently comes from the creative side rather than the bean counter clan, maybe...just maybe, there is a chance that Mr. Humble could be the sort of CEO who will listen to and appreciate the customer base that pays the bills. Maybe he won't be afraid of us and embarrassed by us like Philip and his minions seemed to be...maybe he will actually come down from the Linden ivory tower and walk forth among the residents and find out how we could all work together to keep SL healthy and profitable and fun...
...and maybe Santa will finally bring me that fucking pony for Christmas.