The Sunday Papers

By Kieron Gillen on August 15th, 2010 at 12:33 pm.

Sundays are for finishing off an episode of Twin Peaks, crouching in your office trying to type quietly while Delightful Fiance records some music and compiling a line of the fine (mostly) games related reading from across the week, while trying to not link to some manner of future-music remix of the future-fiction of the Victorian age.

Failed.

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200 Comments »

  1. James Francis says:

    I think it’s a bit rich to go off on people who do writing for free, just because you get paid to do so, Kieron. Do you honestly expect them to tow the line while you cash your cheques? If someone wants to break into an industry, they face a lot of competition and doing what you can to get an advantage over your peers is a given.

    If you got paid for every piece of commercial writing you ever did, congratulations, but not everyone is that lucky. Some have had to climb that tower the hard way: being exploited by editors and abused by publications until they forged enough of a foothold to assert themselves.

    • Kid A says:

      He’s not railing against all people who write for free. Far from it – if I understand Kieron rightly, it’s the people who write for free, when they could and should be getting paid that are dragging the whole thing down. I write about games because I enjoy it, not to get paid. If I waltzed into Eurogamer or IGN and started cranking out reviews and full articles for free, I’d be a scab, as he puts it.
      But doing what I and many other people do, for the sheer hell of it/to get our names out there? I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have a problem with that. (But hell, feel free to call me a scab too if I’m wrong here).

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Kid A: Exactly. The reading comprehension on this one is beginning to depress me.

      KG

    • Dante says:

      Let’s put it simply, if you walked into your nearest Tesco and started stacking shelves and serving customers for free, the current staff would probably be pretty annoyed.

    • Dean says:

      Whereas if you did the same thing at a charity shop, they’d appreciate it.

    • Dante says:

      Excellent metaphor extension.

  2. jalf says:

    @Freud: the exploitation comes in at the point where he knowingly negotiates with them in bad faith. At the point where he pretty clearly states that if he *could*, he’d pay them $0.2 for their life’s work, to put it in a $100 million game. The exploitation comes in at the point where he isn’t trying to hire an artist, but to *avoid paying for art*, by specifically choosing to work only with artists who are too ignorant to negotiate.

    The amount isn’t important. Whether the artist is paid a percentage of sales or not is not important. The profitability of the game isn’t important. What is important is that he is not trying to drive down the price of the art he’s licensing through negotiation or competition, but through deception.

    And you ask what gives us the idea that the artists are ignorant? How about the article itself? He states pretty clearly that you should never work with an artist who is *not* ignorant.

    But nothing in the actual text indicates that what he is doing is to “buy something off someone for 10 dollars knowing you can sell it for 100,000″. That is an absurd exaggeration that I don’t know why you feel the need to use.

    No, the text indicates pretty clearly that *if he could get away with it*, if he could find an artist dumb enough to accept a 10 dollar fee for working on a 100,000 game, he would jump at the chance. He’s not saying that’s what he’s doing, no, just that it’s his wet dream.

  3. pagad says:

    They got their dubstep in my prog rock :(

  4. ManaTree says:

    For everyone on the art thing, here is another response (that subsequently got a lot of hits as well): http://www.thejonjones.com/2010/08/09/how-not-to-hire-an-artist/

    This is the approach I’m *far* more comfortable with. As an artist myself, this kid is the devil. Who the hell wants to be treated like that? I’d much rather find my own way of achieving “a name”. Way more dignity and respect kept, both to myself and from others.

    Thiefsie really nails it, I think. Conducting business and exploiting artists like this is not a way to be. It puts a bad name on everyone, really. RPS, take a look at what you’re saying, take a look at Bobby Kotick’s practices, and this kid’s practices. There is nothing very different except a ton more 0′s on Kotick’s checks, AFAIK.

  5. john_silence says:

    @jalf: Well said.
    @Kid A: The real market doesn’t work like that. Not in my experience. No one “write[s] for free, when they could and should be getting paid.” Unless it’s voluntary community work which you do to alleviate the pressure from inside (inner guilt), free work is ALWAYS correlated to pressure from above (the employers) and around (the competitors). It’s not “stupid”; it’s being a victim of a ruthless, unjust system and trying to survive in it nonetheless until you are able to assert yourself and your rights.
    “Reading comprehension” is, frankly, not the issue at stake here. There’s a dismissive tone in that paragraph up there that tends to itch some people who, like myself, skirted that situation.
    I myself sometimes got annoyed by people who were obviously getting exploited and did not make a stand (I remember a girl who worked for free for, like, a year, and even paid for her lunches in the expensive places where her boss had hers). I myself had a “heated exchange” with a magazine editor who was proposing me a rip-off contract, that would have had our Freud here cowering under a table all a-tremble. So I suppose I ultimately agree with KG’s point. I totally agree that it’s stupid to start working for free for the biggest names in the business; if those don’t pay you, who ever will? But again: it’s all about putting your foot in the door, and the means to that end can be convoluted. Don’t boil these people alive – they are already desperate!

    • Dean says:

      That’s kind of the crux of it though, and the use of the word ‘scab’ specifically, Yes, people do whatever they can to get ahead in a brutal and nasty field. But the point is if, when the companies come looking for someone to do their work for free, every writer says “no” they’ll have no choice but to pay someone. Yes it’s a bad system but it only works because some people are willing to be exploited, because that exploitation benefits them in the short-term.

    • john_silence says:

      In an ideal world things would work as you say, Dean. I wish they would. In the real world, when you say “no” you can be sure someone else will step in and say yes.
      When an employer sets out looking for someone who’s willing to work for free, it means he has decided not to drop a penny on the job involved; he won’t suddenly change his mind because three people say no, and grudgingly admit he has to sign a check. He’ll just keep looking, and you can be sure it won’t take long before someone gladly takes up the offer, just “for the exposure”. There are no unions to seriously defend the rights of freelance journalists, so they will be abused. Resistance is fine, but you have to pick your fights.
      The ones who say no end up with no money, no exposure, and a measure of dignity tarnished by the fact they are and will remain the losers on all counts in this dirty game.

    • Dean says:

      All true. Kieron just wanted to burn alive all the people that would say yes. As you say yourself, if he did that, we’d be living in an ideal world.

  6. Dante says:

    I think the thing that surprises me most about that ‘how to hire an artist’ article is how surprised people are.

    I mean seriously, did you not think there were ruthless people looking to exploit the inexperienced and get away with paying you as little money as possible? Most businesses are like that. Yes it’s surprising to see that coming from a 16 year old flash developer, but honestly don’t act shocked and appalled, don’t act like you’d never considered it before, because honestly this is more or less what’s going through the likes of Bobby Kotick’s head at any point in time, they’re just smart enough to keep it to themselves.

    Before you respond, no, I don’t think that makes this behaviour any less appalling, but honestly if you were remotely surprised to hear that this is how some people think, you should probably be grateful he spilled the beans.

    He’s not an exception, look at what he’s written, memorise it. The next time someone asks you to do work for them, assume that’s what they’re thinking.

  7. phuzz says:

    ditto :)

  8. golden_worm says:

    Re: the artist payment thing,

    The arguments seem to fall into two camps, either:
    1) the capitalist view, where the market decides the value, and profits are a reward for being as efficient as possible, or
    2) the Marxist view, where the value added to the end product is a result of the labour provided and fair compensation is necessary to avoid exploitation.

    In this case the initial decision on value is made by the artist, deliberately chosen for their ignorance of the potential market value of their work. For the system work to everyone’s benefit all information needs to be available to all parties. It is this apparent deception that is causing the rage from those with experience in this kind of transaction. It is capitalism twisted to the benefit of those with privileged information.

    The definition of “fair compensation” is also debatable and will depend on the circumstances of the parties involved. The cost to produce the art could be said to be just enough to keep the artist working and the rest of the compensation is not monetary and comes from the “exposure” generated. This comes down to the individuals feeling of self worth and how they value their work, but again, in this case it is an inexperience artist deliberately being sought to minimise the monetary value and maximise the value they put on “exposure”. They are in effect buying exposure by discounting their work and at the same time thinking they are getting a form of compensation. If they can’t correctly quantify the worth of their art, what chance they can correctly quantify the value of “exposure”? The “exposure” costs Kaitol nothing and is a by-product of the success of his game, which in turn is reliant in a large part on the art it contains.

    This is exploitation of the ignorant by those in a position of privilege. This is how the world works. The only way out it seems is to remove the respect of privilege and inform the ignorant that they are ignorant, and in no uncertain terms. SCABS!

  9. Winterborn says:

    Not a single mention of Phonogram in the comments. Sadface.

    Oh well. Loved the singles club KG, my favourite being the ‘We Share Our Mothers Health’. It pains me to know the third series would have followed Aster as it’s what I would have chosen as the subject myself given the chance. Oh well.

    Please keep doing original properties along with the Marvel work, as much as I’d love to see you have a good long run on Uncanny or something I’d rather new original series.

  10. Richard Clayton says:

    It does appear that there are indeed plans to make a game of Inception: http://www.imdb.com/news/ni4470024/

    “Director Christopher Nolan says, “One thing we are looking at doing is developing a videogame based on the world of the film, which has all kinds of ideas that you can’t fit into a feature film. That’s something we’ve been talking about.”"

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