I just read a blog post that I won’t link to, because it will only give the accused exactly what he wants, but the upshot of it is that anyone who isn’t loving their games being pirated and anyone who actually charges money for games is making shitty games and doesn’t live in the real world.
Hmmmm. Just because someone works full time at games, and makes a living from it hardly automatically makes their games rubbish, or makes them a money grabbing satan. Is John Carmack a money-grubbing son of a bitch who hates games because his games made him a millionaire and bought him a string of ferraris? I doubt it, and I doubt his games are shitty either. In fact, the reverse is often the case. It often follows that people who are really good at what they do, tend to sell a lot of games, and thus end up well paid. That’s how capitalism works. Other government systems are available, of course. They are not reknown for outpourings of high quality digital entertainment though.
My point for this post isn’t about that though, it’s a more general call out to both indie game developers and the media that covers the indie gaming ‘scene’ (god I hate that word, do people think we all hang out in indie bars with our own indie slang?)
Please treat indie games like games, not like some desperate call for attention, or some trendy underdog story or political manifesto, and don’t think that knowing the game is ‘indie’ means you can assume anything at all. (GSB is more like Sins of a solar empire than it is like world of goo, for example).
To look at recent press and hype about indies in the gaming press (both online and in print), I wonder if I am a ‘proper’ indie at all. Lets look at the evidence:
- I am 42.
- I am not a radical EFF cheerleading cyberactivist with ‘I hate SOPA’ tattooed anywhere on my body.
- I live in the UK
- I charge more than $9.99 for my games, sometimes much more.
- I don’t make platform games, and haven’t actually played one since sonic the hedgehog.
- I am not a radical left wing campaigner that hates money, and is equally happy to just know people are enjoying my games if they pirated them. (I actually rely on income from games as…. well… my income)
- I don’t begrudge big successful games developers that have made serious money from gaming or think they must be evil. Brad Wardell (stardock) gets a lot of aggro on this front, which is ironic because he seems such a nice guy. Good luck to him.
I am sure I’m not the only one, in fact I know I’m not, due to many drunken chats in various places with other indies in the UK. I wish the media would realise that indie != notch and indie != starving student and indie != any specific political or activist viewpoint. It’s a lazy stereotype that is long past it’s sell-by date.
Ironically, as someone who has a pet interest in marketing and psychology, I am well aware how easy it would be to embrace the stereotype for my own gain. I’m pretty sure a big ‘STOP SOPA’ banner on my website, and some long angry tirades in favour of linux, ranting at ubisoft for being evil etc, would probably get some press attention, and some PR, and some excitable headlines. It’s very easy to know what the more vocal section of online gamers want to hear developers say. If I was really savvy, I’d hire someone with a cooler name than mine, who looked more like an indie, and get him to do a lot of controversial and activist stunts.
It’s much harder to actually be honest, and say what you really think, something that gets me a ton of grief, to put it mildly.
But regardless of that, I would like people to stop writing about indie developers (as opposed to indie games), and for indie developers to stop acting like they are running for president, and to do something really radical which is this:
Talk about your games.
If I wanted to court controversy obviously add…
Finish the fucking game first, ok?
For what it’s worth here are some of my games, I hope they speak for themselves.
To clarify: I’m not saying indies aren’t allowed to have political view, everyone does, or to have strong opinions on controversial subjects, It’s when any discussion about your game is automatically steered to some sort of activist rant to get page-hits that it bugs me. I don’t care if you are Che Guevara or Hitler, I just want to know if that game you are working on would appeal to me.