Our Boys On The News! BBC On Indies

This caption applies to every story I use it for.

Aw, I feel so proud. It’s like seeing your own children in the papers, but without their having had to stab someone to get there. For winning a really tough swimming race or something. Because today on the real actual Queen’s official BBC News is a story about Mr Cliff Harris and Mr Dan Marshall. That’s Cliffski and Dan Off Of Time Gentlemen Please to you and me. It’s a story about the “return of the bedroom coder”, focusing on Positech and Zombie Cow as examples of British independent developers, and explaining that they can be successful in the larger world of gaming. Cliffski and Dan! We know them! They’re on the news!

It’s tremendously fantastic to see these guys getting that profile. I hope it translates into a bunch of sales.

It leads me to a thought. I’m not sure “bedroom coder” is a very helpful phrase to be attached to. In fact, I think it creates the impression that the product will be amateurish, rather than independent. I’m aware that anyone old enough to remember gaming in the 80s will have a different attachment to the phrase – it’s a positive term in our own world. But reading it on the BBC site, it strikes me as a term that doesn’t translate well. Perhaps you disagree. But I wonder how much less appealing something seems to an audience once it’s been suggested to have been created not even in the front room. “Indie developers” is a fantastic phrase, implying separation from the corporations as well as suggesting an alternative attitude. Let’s say that instead?

Oh, and because it’s the law to not get computer games stories right on the news, I’m a bit confused by the Braid bit. 360 first, right? PC ages later.


  1. Vykromod says:

    For some reason, I’m greatly amused to see a BBC news story featuring the words “Gratuitous Space Battles”. I can’t stop giggling.

  2. Smokingkipper says:

    also…Zombie Cow!

  3. Heliosicle says:

    Managed to miss out on that TGP and BTDT deal, need to get it sometime

    and yes I know its super cheap anyway

  4. Bob says:

    OMG I’m gonna use Unity and get on the BBC! I’m in a bed room and know what a coder is, how can I go wrong! About time I got something out of the license fee lol

  5. Chris D says:

    Now just waiting for the backlash once the Daily Mail discover the BBC promoted a game featuring Rat Necrophilia.

    • JohnArr says:

      They’ll enjoy themselves once they’ve pushed the ‘racism’ slider up a bit.

  6. Clovis says:

    The article says Zombie Cow Studios most popular games are “graphic adventures” (that sounds much cooler than “adventure games”).

    Huh. I think of them mostly as the studio that produced Gibbage.

    I also like how even the BBC manages to malign AGs as dinosaurs: “This breed of dialogue-heavy puzzle game has become all but extinct in the retail world, due to their lack of action, but still thrives in the indie subculture. ” Maybe the addition of dirty words will make the species “thrive” again!

    • Wulf says:

      I agree, and one of the things I’d love to see from Dan is an Internet capable version of Gibbage. I’d like that very much, in fact, that it would run on a netbook and I could have fragging matches anywhere that has a wi-fi spot would be a huge bonus, too.

      I think that’s the first time I’ve said ‘fragging matches’ in a decade. See Dan? The world needs Internet Gibbage, it’d make the old memories live again.

      Also, I would pay ten pounds (and possibly more!) for an Internet capable version of Gibbage! This is a sizeable amount of money more than the six pounds that Dan was asking for the original. Though I’d put £15 down for it if it had lots and lots of maps, because such a thing would probably bring about VVVVVV levels of joy.

      I am but one man though, and probably the only man who actually wants Internet-able Gibbage.

    • Springy says:

      Surely just the latter, for what manner of man would wear his long johns in the bath?

    • Springy says:

      That was, a, not the right post to respond to, and, b, the very worst response to put in the wrong place.

      Meant for Frankie.

  7. Chris Evans says:

    While it is nice to see the BBC featuring games like this, I agree it would be better to use a term such as ‘indie developer’ which is far more accurate than bedroom coder. Still, a move in the right direction from the BBC!

    • Taillefer says:

      Agreed on the phrasing. “Bedroom Film-Maker” for example, would also give the wrong impression.

    • Springy says:

      I’m not sure I agree. ‘Bedroom coder’ has a lovely, friendly ring to it, connotations of a plucky little underdog. Could be our Jason from down the road making games in his bedroom, bless ‘im. Indie developer sounds like a developer who is also a ponce.

      I am speaking for the uninitiated British public, though they don’t realise it yet.

    • Frankie The Patrician[PF] says:

      oh, I heard that one before…When I was doing a presentation on some youtubers (Tay Zonday, The Game Jew, Awesome Video Games, sxephil etc..) my teacher didn’t like the title “Bedroom producers”…But heck, it’s just so fokkin’ fittin’! Get over the stereotype…

    • Chris Evans says:

      Oh there is nothing wrong with using the term bedroom coder in a discussion with others who play games and understand what it means. It is just that the BBC using this term may lead to those who aren’t up with the sland thinking that these guys just sit in their bedrooms all day in their underwear making games. Not to say they don’t of course ;)

    • Carra says:

      “Bedroom-filmmaker”. Hah!

    • Santiago says:

      Well it’s better than “Toilet coder”, bless modern laptops… but it really depends on what your imagination leads you to believe an uninitiated BBC reader thinks like. Maybe the guy gets sold on the idea of romanticism, or is a terrible snob who, tired of eating raw fish for dinner thinks getting into rustic gaming will be the new thing, or is a lonely oldie lad who instantly gets an orgasmic flashback to his young years as in Ratatouille… who knows.

      It’s not like the indie scene is looking for a way to appeal to the mainstream and sell like EA at a fraction of the cost THROUGH CLEVER MARKETING, is it?

    • Frankie The Patrician[PF] says:

      People should know the best ideas come to you while being in underwear or naked…

    • Pod says:

      Whilst bedroom coder might be a bit crap, it’s better than “Indie developer”, which makes them sound like they wear scarves and listen to gillen-music whilst developing. I’ll have none of that, thanks.

  8. Schaulustiger says:

    Both Zombie Cow and Positech deserve every bit of media coverage they get. So: Congratulations!

  9. Jad says:

    I love how the caption “Indie games often explore themes disregarded by bigger publishers” is for a screenshot of a giant robot.

    Anyway, yay indie developers! Yay Ben & Dan! Yay Braid! I will say “yay!” for Gratuitous Space Battles too, although I haven’t played it yet. But I have been meaning to.


  10. Wulf says:

    I just want to add my hurrah in regards to Zombie Cow, and Ben & Dan in general.

    Dan is, quite frankly, one of the nicest people I’ve met on the Internet, despite him being grumpy about almost everything. I know this from lurking around their forums. I wish Zombie Cow the best, and it’s great that they got mentioned in the news, even if it isn’t entirely flattering. Damn it, BBC, you should have flattered more!

  11. cliffski says:

    I was very proud to be part of a cottage industry. Especially now I actually have moved to a real lfie country cottage.

  12. sebmojo says:

    Haven’t seen the doco, but FWIW I played a beta of Braid on the PC before it was released on XBox, the official PC release was ages later though.

  13. Jacques says:

    You mean the free license? ;)

    • Frankie The Patrician[PF] says:

      Bob might be one of those happy chaps that bought the license before it went free, lucky him :)

  14. guy says:

    I thought that was hilarious when I saw the racism slider in the options, but does it actually change what happens in the game?

    • Jad says:

      The racism slider only affects gameplay when used with DirectX 10/11. XP gamers are left out in the cold.

      But at least we get it for free. Xbox gamers have to pay Zombie Cow to get the Racism DLC.

  15. The Sombrero Kid says:

    Dan Marshall is the funniest guy on twitter, which makes sense since his games are so funny.

  16. LionsPhil says:

    I agree with the sentiment that “indie developers” is a horrible phrase that brings to mind the kind of snobbery “indie” is synonymous for in other artistic fields.

    Insert Indie Rock Pete here.