Heya all, it's time for the next Call to Action! I know that some of you have already started with this one, but I want to make sure everyone is on board, to offer some guidelines, and to incorporate an idea that I really hope will get their attention in a positive way.
I want to make sure that everyone at NCsoft Corporate understands how important this game is to us. I want them to see the human cost to shuttering the servers and burying the IP and code base. The goal here is to recognize that the people at NCsoft are people too, all the way up to the CEO. Working with us to make sure that Paragon City still exists would foster a lot of goodwill with the community, which is quite large, active, and committed.
I don't want you to sit down and churn out a form letter, though, so I'm not going to post something you can just cut and paste. Remember, we are heroes
. Thinking of some original thoughts to put down on paper in your own words is but a trivial challenge! Here are some guidelines, though, that I think would be very helpful to our cause.
- Be respectful. While you're writing, please remember that if we alienate NCsoft, it is literally game over. We must have them on our side in order to succeed. The more they like us, the more chance of success we will have. I know that a lot of you are hurt, angry, and ready to go in with both barrels fighting. But this is not a brute force mission, it is a diplomatic one. When you feel the urge to start getting snarky, take a break. Come back later. This is a timed mission, but the clock is still set pretty high.
- Be personal. I want to make sure they understand how what they built affects us, the City of Heroes players, on a personal level. In the business world, it is really easy to make cold, calculated decisions when you don't have human beings and their stories associated with what you're doing. Tell them how City of Heroes has made a positive difference in your life! Tell them about that time you really felt heroic! Tell them how close you felt to your fellow players when you pulled together to beat that impossible mission! Tell them about how your made a real-life friend through the power of Paragon City! Put some feeling into the letter and let them see us not as a nameless, faceless group of fans, but as people with thoughts and feelings and emotions.
- Hand-write your letter instead of typing it. This goes along with the above guideline. If you really can't produce anything better than chicken scratch handwriting, then this one is flexible. Still, there's a lot to be said for a personally handwritten letter in neat, legible handwriting. It says to them that you are going out of your way to make a personal appeal to them.
- Don't write a book. Having said what I said above, please don't send a 10-page short story unless you have a really compelling story to tell, such as if you met your spouse through City of Heroes, you were friends with another player who passed away, or that kind of thing. Try to keep it to a page or two at the most.
- Make sure they quickly understand the purpose of your letter. Right at the very top, make it explicitly clear why you're writing. "I am a City of Heroes player for eight and a half years, and I am writing to ask that you please take whatever steps are necessary to avoid shutting down the greatest game I have ever played." Something along those lines would be nice, but please do paraphrase.
- Make them want to read your letter. After stating your purpose for writing, avoid this. "I really like City of Heroes a lot. Please don't end the game. It's really great and there are still a lot of players." Avoid sounding like a form letter. Throw in a funny or interesting anecdote close to the top to keep them hooked and wanting to continue.
- You are not their accountant. I know a lot of you are under the impression that if we could just convince them that there's some financial reason to keep City of Heroes alive, they would do so. They are businessmen, right? All we have to do is show them the dollars and cents of the matter. The problem with this is that they have their own paid professional accountants and financial gurus who are informing their decisions, and financial advice from random Internet strangers is probably not going to go very far. You can mention that we have a strong player base, but please avoid sending your financial analysis of the decision, as thorough and well-thought-out as I'm sure it is.
- Be flexible. Remember our goal is to Save Paragon City!. Don't get tied down to one particular solution. Don't assume that they won't change their mind. Don't presume that if they don't, they're going to stingily hold on to the IP and code base. When you ask for what you want to ask for, make sure that you word it in such a way that the end goal is stated: keeping the game running. The exact details of how that goal is reached are still up in the air. Let them know that you would like for all options to be considered.
- Tell us! This step is totally optional. If you're up to it, though, send an e-mail to ParagonCity@cohtitan.com and tell us when you've mailed your letter and what you said. (Please note that this e-mail address is not our main address to communicate with our team, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for that.) I'd like to be able to track how we're doing and use some of the content you are generating to put together some kind of site or scrapbook that brings this effort home in the stretch, and this is your chance to be a part of that.
There's one more thing that I think you can do that would add a special touch to your letter and really help connect the powers-that-be at NCsoft to you and the game. Back when I started playing City of Heroes in 2004, one of the coolest aspects of the game to me was that I could take perfect screenshots in the game. One of the first things I did after creating my first character, King Skippus, was to take a bunch of postcard-like screenshots and print them out on heavy card stock paper. I cut the printouts out and actually hung them on my wall at work. "What is that?" people would ask. "That's me. I'm a superhero in Paragon City." I was really proud of my postcards.
When you write, I suggest printing your character's photo or, better yet if you have anything, a piece of art of your character, on a piece of paper that will fit in the envelope without being folded. If possible, try to print it on heavy card stock paper (go to your local office supply store and buy a pack of 110 lb. paper) or if your printer supports it, photographic paper, as that really will make it stand out, it will be something they might even like to hang on their wall. Make it creative, write your character's name on the back. If it's an old photo to express how long you've been playing, write the date the photo was taken. Really make it pop. You don't have to send more than one; the goal isn't to irritate them. The goal, once again, is to show them what the game means to us, to help them understand that there is a lot of creative time, effort, and work that has gone into the game.
For example, I plan on sending this photo of Taxibot Belle in 2005, a day after I created the character:
(And for those whose mind I just blew with, "Whoa, TonyV is Taxibot Belle?" I used to be. I created the character based on the personality of a good friend and ran Taxibot Belle until sometime around 2007. Around that time, the real Belle moved in with me and I gave the account--and more importantly, the character--to her and she's been running her ever since.)
Once you've composed your letter, send two copies to the following addresses:
Mr. Taek Jin Kim, Chief Executive Officer
1501 4th Avenue, Suite 2050
Seattle, WA 98101
Mr. Taek Jin Kim, Chief Executive Officer
Kangnamu-gu, Seoul 135-090
, who initiated this campaign, points out, you might be more likely to get it actually in the hands of the CEO if you send it certified. I'll just copy verbatim what he said here:
Send all letters via "Certified Mail/Addressee’s Signature Required/Return Receipt Requested". This takes a little more effort and costs a little more, but it is well worth it. According to US Federal postal laws, a letter so marked must be signed for by the address or their legal representative, which in the case of CEOs is usually their personal administrative assistants; usually it's not the receptionist or security guards. This is your best shot at getting your letters directly to where they will do the most good.
Okay heroes, you have your mission, start writing those letters!