VATSIM, POSCON & The Days of Our Lives
When I was a child (keep in mind I grew up in the 70’s, early 80’s and sneaking up on year 52) my mother and grandmother absolutely loved their soap operas. I always found it interesting that while I didn’t watch them regularly (no, really…I promise) I could either be home sick from school, on summer or holiday break and catch 5-10 minutes in passing and then repeat in a few weeks/months time and feel as if I really hadn’t missed anything. Yes, those WERE the Days of Our Lives!
About a week ago I wrote a detailed piece regarding POSCON (Positive Control Network). Now let me just state for the record that I am not involved in any capacity with the POSCON team. I know a few of the folks behind POSCON, but I’m personally not involved. Said another way, I’m merely an individual who is interested and highly excited about the possibilities POSCON is planning to bring to the flight sim community. Period!
Drama, Drama, Drama
Since the time I published the article last week, a whole lot of drama has bubbled up regarding POSCON’s plan to purchase one of the existing online multiplayer networks. If you are new to the hobby, we only have three online multiplayer ATC networks and they are VATSIM, IVAO and PilotEdge. It became clear who the target was fairly soon after news broke about the plan and the VATSIM network found itself in the crosshairs. The dollar amount offered for the VATSIM network was $50,000 USD.
I’ll be honest and once again state for the record that I really don’t understand exactly how an organization such as VATSIM could simply be acquired. If someone offered to purchase my blog site which is solely owned/operated by yours truly, then yes…I understand how that financial transaction would take place. But VATSIM is simply a non-profit, unincorporated entity which is made up of a Board of Governors and the general membership. I’ve been a member of VATSIM for 17 years, I have never been charged a dime to use the service, I pay no dues and to my knowledge there has never been any method to contribute/donate/gift funds to cover the operational costs for the network. So in this sort of setup, exactly who would one write a check to? Who would benefit from the $50K?
Nothing in life is free
That’s right! Absolutely NOTHING in life is free. Someone, somewhere is paying. While I charge nothing for folks to read my articles, view my mods and add-on spreadsheet or review my hardware/software configurations….it costs money (my money) to have this website and no I’m not about to start charging. But my point is this. People (and it all started with the original VATSIM Founders) have been footing the bill to run the VATSIM network for the past 17 years. While I would assume much of the development of the software/database etc. has been done by fellow VATSIM members, there are still hardware costs associated to keeping the network operational 24×7. My guess is $50K wouldn’t even come close to covering all the costs which have been incurred over the past 17 years. But the point I’m making here (or trying to make) isn’t about the $50,000. Please keep reading!
Hate runneth over
As much as I love the Internet age we all find ourselves living in, I for one could certainly do without all the hate and negativity which goes along with it. Seems like every rock you turn over, you’ll find a troll lurking under it….just waiting to pounce and then retreat back under the rock. This is one of the reasons I have given myself a break from YouTube and Twitch. But that’s another story, for another blog post…
When the news broke about the $50,000 offer from POSCON to acquire VATSIM, speculation run amuck over what POSCON’s true intentions were. Folks began piling on their bandwagon of choice and filling the interwebz with hate and speculation over how POSCON (and certain individuals associated with POSCON) were going to destroy our hobby. The general consensus was just because POSCON was offering money to acquire VATSIM, that at some point in time there must be an equal or greater return on that initial investment.
The Park Across the Street
True story as we take a brief break from the POSCON v. VATSIM story. I live and work in what is called the Denver Tech Center. It’s a wonderful and beautiful part of Denver and my commute from home to office is generally less than 5 minutes. If you know anything about Denver traffic, then you know this is a HUGE benefit. After all, every minute not stuck in traffic is a minute I can spend doing something else. But I digress….
Across the street from my neighborhood is a fairly large park. The land was donated/gifted many years ago with the intention that it would always be used as a park for people to enjoy. The park is very well maintained. It is mowed weekly, there are numerous trash cans which are emptied on a regular basis. And each year around Christmas, lights are placed in the trees in beautiful fashion. On any given day, you’ll find both young and old enjoying the benefits in which this park gives to everyone. Yet….there is no admission fee to enter. There is no “pay for play” entry fee to enjoy this little park across the street.
Of course, YES….our tax dollars are used to cover the costs of maintaining the park. But this just further proves my point from earlier that nothing in life is free. But the bigger picture here is that someone with very generous pockets gifted this land for the purpose and benefit of others.
Back on Point
Just because someone, somewhere steps up and makes the decision to financially back something or even create something new and different, doesn’t automatically mean at some point in time it will turn into a “pay for play” subscription offering. Likewise, just because someone else appears to have a lot of different projects in various stages of development doesn’t indicate dubious intentions. Individuals do often care enough to give for the betterment of all.
My Final Thoughts
As I’ve said before, it’s never been my intentions to write about breaking news content. I chose to write the POSCON article last week simply because I found it exciting and wanted to share that exciting news with my readership. As I sit here writing this follow-up, that level of excitement for what I believe POSCON will bring to this hobby HAS NOT WAVERED. I’m just as excited and I’m just as confident in the people behind POSCON and their ability to deliver the next generation flight simulation network.
My advice to the POSCON team (should they care to read it) is to just simply move forward with their plans. Draw a line in the sand and say everything which has transpired up to this point is on that side of the line and everything we have to look forward to is on this other side. Then continue marching forward.
As for VATSIM, there’s a reason why I’ve been a member of this online community for 17 years. However, VATSIM hasn’t done a good enough job in keeping up with the times and the VATSIM leadership appears to have acknowledged this oversight and only time will tell just how serious they are in correcting it.
My advice for anyone still reading this. Try VATSIM, try IVAO, try PilotEdge and perhaps sometime after the first of the year…give POSCON a try. Then make a decision. But understand that you absolutely do not have to limit yourself to just one online network. As I pointed out in the article last week, POSCON may not be for everyone and that’s absolutely OK. But please….let’s stop the hate. Let’s not turn this into another measuring contest where we divide and single folks out simply because of how they define their enjoyment of the hobby. Remember, there is no right or wrong answer.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and all my writings. This will most likely be the last mention of POSCON until such time as I have the ability to experience it first hand.
Until next time….
P.S. No, my blog site is not for sale. LOL Second, I hope to share some really exciting news with everyone very, very soon regarding an opportunity which I’ve been offered (which has nothing to do with the content of this article) and something I’m really looking forward to. As a teaser, yes it does have to do with writing and it has to do with the flight simulation hobby. But beyond that, you’ll just need to wait a few weeks to hear the rest of the story….