Organizations, Controversies, and Replacements

being technically able to do something does not mean we should


Here we go again: a leading organization in TF2 has done something amazingly horrifying, people are rioting and calling for the heads of those involved, and the inevitable suggestion of “let’s build our own” is being made.

We’re talking about ESEA, right? Or is it TF2Center? Damn, it’s hard to keep track of all these controversies.

Poorly made jokes aside, it seems to be more frequently happening that an organization of some sort is being embroiled in something they shouldn’t be. So far this year it’s been ESEA (multiple times), Flares that Care, and TF2Center, and there’s still a few months left.

Whenever one of these stories pops up, the suggestion always comes up to form a community replacement, and usually the call is heeded - TF2can was quickly organized to replace Flares that Care, CEVO was backed by top community figures as an alternative to ESEA, and TF2Stadium has been announced as another option besides TF2Center. It’s quite clear that the community’s ability to come together in times of crisis is amazing.

However, the level of success of these efforts has been mixed, to put it mildly. On one side of the spectrum, TF2can defied everyone’s expectations, despite having very little time to organize, and promised to return with a future event planned. On the other side, CEVO TF2 struggled to survive after two seasons and eventually shut down with most players continuing to play in ESEA. (TF2Stadium is still in development.)

These varied results should awaken us to the fact that these situations are all different and have very complex factors in effect, and as a result, we should wary about acting blindly purely on principle, since we rarely are free of ideal-shattering reality. The questions we need to ask ourselves include:

  • do we have the reasonable ability to do something about the situation?
  • what is the opportunity cost for whatever potential solutions we have?
  • can we accomplish what we want to do without causing too many issues?
  • does the situation warrant this type of response?

Given this, we can see why TF2can succeeded while CEVO failed. TF2can was something that the community had a lot of experience doing already, was operating without much to lose because Flares that Care was in disarray, was as simple as making people aware and asking them to go to TF2can instead, and was needed because the operator of Flares that Care was a known scammer whom most people would not trust with charity funds. Meanwhile, CEVO required much more investment (since the league had to be built from the ground up), required the community to abandon among other things LAN playoffs and over $50,000 annually in cash prizes being provided by ESEA, required a lot more commitment by the community with two matches per week and an unworkable forfeit rescheduling system, and was ultimately a response to a horrible decision that ultimately did not have much impact on TF2 players and was unlikely to reoccur.

Now, this is not to say that we should silently suffer ESEA or any other service because we can’t replace it, or excessively demonize Flares that Care or any other service because we could. Outrage in the right amount is justified, and the question of alternatives should always be considered whenever the transgression is serious enough. However, we should carefully consider the situation before committing to something that may be difficult to reverse.

After all, these failures are the best opportunity for us to make the situation better, but sometimes we just can’t make it better and just have to ride the storm.