'Someone is always keeping score.' Unknown member of Ascent The Ascent Cultural Scoring System (ACSS) is used to describe the value of contributions made by members of Ascent to the faction itself.
Its origins lie within the Ascent Leadership Race, where the scoring of individuals’ activities throughout the year is required to determine the qualifying participants. This forms just one aspect of the overall ACSS, which includes scoring related to other aspects of life. It includes, but is not limited to, scoring in relation to extra-curricular activities, social standing, education attainment and career choice. As such, the ACSS is intrinsic to the operation of Ascent and impacts each member in their everyday lives.
The Scorekeepers are responsible for measuring, recording and analysing the ACSS. These significant duties take up a large proportion of their time, along with ensuring the integrity of the system itself. A wide variety of technology is utilised to ensure that scoring is able to be done quickly and accurately.
The actual formula of how the scoring is made up is a closely guarded secret known only to a handful of individuals from the Scorekeepers at any one time. Given the delicate power balance between the University and the Messengers’ Guild, and the potential to have a new leader of Ascent each year, these individuals are not privy to this information, despite the sometimes large amounts of pressure put on the scorekeepers.
It is known, however, that activities that contribute to the betterment of the person improve their score and therefore the overall value of the faction. However, as many scholars of the university have pointed out, ‘betterment of the person’ is a very broad term that can encompass participation in sports, healthy living intellectual study or even the opposite of these, depending on the skills of the person in question.
There are three primary scales to the ACSS - the individual scale, referred to as the Daily Prestige Rating (DPR); the organisational scale, commonly referenced as the Organisational Ascent Rating (OAR) and the overall faction scale called the Ascent Prestige Score (APS).
The DPR is the daily score provided to an individual member of Ascent in relation to other members of the faction. Each member receives their DPR at the start of any given day, and its value is valid for just that single day.
It is used in a number of different ways within Ascent. For instance, many professional opportunities are restricted to individuals with a score above a certain amount. Some organisations also adjust wages based on the DPR so that those with a higher DPR receive a higher wage. Many also utilise the DPR when looking to recruit and promote.
Outside of the professional world, it can also affect membership of clubs and social groups, with some even using this to determine the value of relationships and/or marriage.
The OAR is similar to the Daily Prestige Rating, except it is on an organisational level. It is based on many factors, including the DPR of their employees and the organisation’s impact and influence on Ikaros and Ascent as a whole.
These ratings are brought together on a daily basis by the Scorekeepers and used to determine the Ascent Prestige Score. This is the most common way that members of Ascent determine how ‘healthy’ a faction Ascent actually is, including how economically, culturally and intellectually healthy the faction is. In this way, it is often studied and analysed in a similar way to a stock market.
For the last five years, the leaders of Ascent have spent more time consolidating their current positions than pushing the faction to markedly improve. Whilst externally, this has not been seen as an issue, with many services offered by Ascent continuing as usual.
On Ikaros, however, this has been a source of much concern for many Ascent members, particularly as the leader at the time continued to claim victory in the Ascent Leadership Race, often offering positions of power and wealth to any potential competitors that may be looking to claim the position of Laureate.
This has since ended, thanks to the victory of current Laureate Spyridon Valatos in the most recent Leadership Race, and many members of Ascent look forward to an exciting, bright future.
Perceptions of the ACSS
For most, the ACSS is fundamental to the lives of Ascent members. Most find having a quantifiable way of describing their value as an individual, as a member of an organisation and as an Ascent member incredibly useful, particularly when it comes to improving one’s character and standing. Even those who see potential flaws in the system understand that their life on Ikaros and as a member of Ascent is dictated by the system.
With no opt out system, save for leaving Ascent and Ikaros, there are no ways to influence the use of the ACSS apart from joining the Scorekeepers. Training for this is rigorous, and with their own lives watched and analysed even closer than regular Ascent members, the few objectors to the ACSS choose the former option.
As the ACSS does not extend beyond Ascent members, its usefulness across Beacon Space has been questioned as it does not provide a way for Ascent to compare itself in the same way with other factions across the sector. The Scorekeepers have addressed this concern a number of times, advising that the amount of resource that would be required to undertake the ACSS on a sector-wide scale would be huge and ultimately detrimental to Ascent as a faction.
Some broader thinkers on Ikaros, including the current Laureate, have seen that whilst the ACSS is a very good method of determining current value, it tackles potential value less well, save for looking at previous trends, results and behaviours. Some of these have taken it upon themselves to try and ‘beat’ the system, taking those with lower DPRs and trying to push them further and harder than ever before.
Spyridon Valatos has done this on many occasions, building his own DPR and influence in this manner.