Someone must have forgotten to tell me. Or I might have missed people in the office wearing protective gear, being armed with all sorts of weapons and digging fox holes.
What is it with people labeling every argument, disagreement or competition as a war or a battle or a fight these days anyway.
Oh a Culture War! Sorry, that’s different! This culture war which people speak of centers around Gamergate of course. Only there is a bit of a problem with the narrative. There is no culture war INSIDE the games industry. That culture war, if indeed it is one, happens outside of what we do in development studios and publishing offices. It really is only waged outside the industry. On the fringe. By people who feel like they have a say about what we do and how we do it. By a very small minority of people who have not got a fucking clue what it takes to make a game, many of which who have never had a creative thought in their life and would not be able to learn a skill required in the industry if their life depended on it.
Instead people like Kristen Brown blog and “report” about an industry into which they have no insight, an industry which they have never worked in and an industry that exists to entertain the very people who complain about it. In fact, the vast majority of games and tech press only know about our industry what we, who work in it, tell them. And most of what we tell them is carefully monitored by our marketing teams. They gobble up every snippet and try to spin it into a story – the more outrageous the better. And I have to admit here, the games industry is guilty of something: 9 out of 10 times we let it slide. Because in many cases, we see it as publicity which might help our sales. Controversy sells.
Even the so-called industry press is guilty of courting controversy. Gamesindustry.biz is a prime example of this. The article I linked is based on a press release. Published as quickly as possible, so as to not be left behind the rest of the hungry online press, the article was quickly hashed together and stuffed with a few twitter screen grabs (Another question here: why do news sites include Twitter messages? Is this what we call reliable sources now? And I thought Tweets fall under the “personal opinion” category…). Not only that, but in this particular case no effort was made to establish WHY before posting the article – only one side was presented and speculation entered the article. But this is what journalism is all about today it seems. We can always issue updates later, that will generate even more clicks…
While you are the site, take a look at the articles and note the comments. There are some genuinly good articles on the site, and gamesindustry.biz generally does research well and interviews developers with good questions. They also provide great space for developer columns. Here are a few examples:
The list goes on and on. But these articles don’t generate clicks, tweets and arguments – and arguments is what brings more readers and thus more revenue. So the number of articles such as these have increased over the last 2 years. 110 comments. Most of them back and forth bitching. Moderating had to take place. YAY! Popcorn time! Watch those clicks.
For the past year Gamergate has been going. And it does not even matter anymore what it was all about and who started it. What it is right now is 2 sides, both blaming each other, both threatening each other and both hating each other. Gamergate might well have been about the extremely low standards of games journalism (and many of us actually working in the industry can at least tell a tale or 2 to verify that assessment), but Gamergate has fuck all to do with the actual industry itself. My (our) industry simply served as a reason, as an excuse, for 2 opposing sides to go to war. We were declared the cause and apparently we needed to be fought over.
But we are not someone’s property. Especially not the property of bloggers, journalists or gamers. Gamergate in the last year has been a great topic for both sides – drawing in readers, generating clicks and making some people feel important because their readership has increased from 3 to 30.
I actually don’t care about that. I am happy for people to debate anything they want. Tear yourself to pieces on twitter (and jesus fuck, some of the thing people say to each other over the internet is truly vile). But please do not dare to claim that you are speaking for the games industry, or that you have even the faintest of clues about what’s going on in the games industry. I have more than a decade in the industry and barely scratched the surface.
Don’t tell us what to do and what we should do better, or different. Instead be glad that you can can report on what we actually do. It’s hard to get accurate worldwide numbers, but in the US alone there are over 40.000 developers generating an estimated 6 billion US dollars annually for the US GDP. You should see it as a privilege to do what you do. And the vast majority of you bloggers and journalists don’t even have to crunch, work weekends, face unstable work conditions and usually limited company benefits. Instead you get to go to all the trade shows, get wined and dined by publishers and studios, get all the freebies and swag, because in return we hope for exposure and a decent (at least honest) review. And yes, that is a practice the industry should stop if you ask me.
But anyway I digress. I am sure there are a few people working in the games industry who actively participate in this war of words and threats that Gamergate has become. But I am also sure that the vast majority of us simply does not give a flying fuck about it. People who keep fighting, using the same arguments over and over, insulting each other and using the same tactics and methods they deplore in their opposition, are all bystanders as far as the games industry is concerned. They only look in from the outside. And when all’s said and done, what it really is about, is attention and publicity. People arguing on twitter simply want to belong. Well if you want to belong to the games industry, start making games.
As an industry, we keep on trucking. We keep on learning (because we are NOT perfect). Not all we create is perfect. But we keep on making awesome content and we keep on entertaining millions and millions of people, making their lives a little brighter, winters a little warmer and rainy days a little less dull. We create worlds, puzzles, stories and characters. We create amazing visuals and audio. We stir emotions, make people laugh and cry and shout. We CREATE. And creation is a very powerful positive force. All you people arguing on the internet like 10 years olds on a school yard: What have you created recently?