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31-03-2014, 10:53 PM #1
The Growing and Highly Abusive Marriage of Gaming and Media
TotalBiscuit linked to this on his twatter and it is a pretty good, if insanely biased and probably financed by Polaris/Maker as a way to cover their asses, read http://indiestatik.com/2014/03/31/mo...sive-game-jam/
In a nutshell, apparently there was going to be a youtube documentary/docu-drama'reality show about a game jam, and it fell through horribly because it was approached from the angle of reality TV/game shows and one of the production dudes tried to crank up the drama heavily.
But personally, I think this is a sign of a growing issue with the internet in general and indie devs in particular: The days where you could make media (including games) of some form and NOT be a people person are basically gone.
Let's take a look at what actually happened with that debacle:
- There was branding all over the place, which means people had to use the brands correctly
- It was a shitty set with lots of tech issues
- The production staff tried to build up drama in the usual ways
- The production staff pushed hot button issues with some of the people INVOLVED in those issues
Now, we can all agree that is shitty. But I can't help but think "that is TV".
- I know we all hate branding and what not, but advertisement is where a lot of money comes from. You can't make content without capitol and it isn't particularly out there for Mountain Dew to want to get their money's worth (although, they probably shouldn't have been involved in a gaming thing so soon after Dorito-Gate).
- That is bound to happen and is generally an issue with any major production. While branding would be an issue, it probably would have been smarter to have everyone bring a laptop they can work off of if they had one, which would have avoided most of the problems
- I hate to say it, but they knew they were making reality TV from the moment the contract said they could be reflected in a negative light. I hate to be a victim basher, but you don't go on Jerry Springer or The Real World or Jersey SHore if you are worried about looking like "white trash" and the like. This isn't the early 90s, people know how reality TV works by now
- Honestly, as shitty as it is to poke at the woman who received death threats all in the name of being a woman for being a woman, she also needs to be aware of how she represents herself and what she gets involved in. The author of that article (who seems to be a good friend of her) even pointed out she realized she had to be VERY careful to not come across as "argumentative" or to be able to be labeled as "the girl who had a fight with X". And honestly? If I were involved in a major issue in my field and popped up on a news show or in a "documentary", I would expect to be asked about that. So yes, attacking her on that subject is a horrifically shitty thing to do, but she really should have known better than to be there at all. Especially as she had ample opportunity to walk out prior to filming (since it sounds like the premise was misrepresented).
Was it a shitty production? Yup. Was there a good scapegoat that Polaris can shunt everything off to? Yup. Is it really all that guy's fault? Nope
We see it every single day. When John Walker went on his rant about intellectual property, I actually un-followed a few developers for how they responded to him (I won't name names). I actually disagree with John and side with them, but the hate and vitriol that came out of their mouths just alienated me, and actually made me a lot less likely to give them the benefit of the doubt on a game purchase.
In the past, there was a solution: Relic famously exploded at their fans a few times, so they got community managers (I miss Buggo). And that worked great, and that is the approach taken by most larger studios.
But here is the problem: We now live in a "global internet community". A significant portion of the internet is on Twitter and/or Reddit, and both of those are essentially giant message boards where people can EASILY find other people. So if a content creator at all wants to experience "the internet", they have to be very wary of people finding them and taking what they say personally. Joel whatshisface from HiJinks Ensue got in a bit of hot water with a lot of his fans over his comments regarding Adam Baldwin's homophobic statements. Wil Wheaton got into a fight with a Wikipedia admin a few nights ago. And so forth.
Just having a community manager is no longer a solution. Especially because people trying to "start shit" aren't going to accept the fact that what Developer X thinks about twinkies has nothing to do with the game made by his or her studio.
And there is no real way to hide. If you want to use the internet at all, people are going to find you. This is actually becoming a problem in the porn industry since basically any new "talent" is probably going to be immediately outed if she becomes popular (fun fact: one comparatively new actress actually showed up in one of Rooster Teeth's "RT Recaps" as a random person on the street they interacted with). And that is just the horny assholes, let alone the actual people who get angry or feel strongly about, GASP, a video game.
And I think THAT is where this fell through. Those indie devs, for whatever reason, thought they were actually going there to show off how good they are at making games. They weren't. They were doing PR. And they weren't ready for PR. They aren't the kinds of people who can DO PR.
Which is a problem as people are trying to mix the peanut butter and chocolate that is video gaming and more traditional media.
I mean, we ALL make fun of Jon Romero and Cliffy B and Notch and the like, because they have done some REALLY douchey things on camera/in interviews. But they at least know how to HANDLE a camera and the like. They can do their own PR to varying extents. Whereas you have someone like Swen from Larian who is actually really good at being informative and building up hype (if you are already a fan...) but comes across as "Weird, forced, and kind of dry", especially when he is talking about a game while wearing a "fun T-shirt". Honestly, he seems to be the kind of guy who DOES wear fun t-shirts and the like, but he isn't the guy you throw in front of a camera if you are smart. That's why Larian actually hired some youtube peoples (Jesse Cox and Dodger) when they announced the open alpha/beta/whatever that was. For a random progress update to backers, "Creepy McAwkward Pants" is good. When you are going to have "the entire world" watch, you get the chubby ginger and the girl who likes coffee.
And honestly, I have no idea how this is going to continue. Because people are going to keep trying to do what "traditional media" does. But these aren't musicians or actors who are used to performing in front of crowds. These are people who are used to living in garages and making awesome stuff. Even doing a documentary is dangerous, just look at what it did to the Fez guy (while I suspect he might ACTUALLY be that douchey, it didn't portray him in a good light).
And before people say "Well, we don't want reality TV either". I'm gonna call bullshit on that. Pretty much all of the major "gaming adjacent creative houses" like PA and RT have their own reality shows starring "real gamers" (or artists, for the PA case), and that god awful TBS show got good enough ratings to get a second season. And even if we only consider "documentaries": You DO realize reality TV and the like evolved out of those, right? Because the person making that documentary is trying to tell a narrative, and what they show, and in what order they show it, tells the story.
In other threads, I have seen people complain that every single gaming documentary is "the same thing". Well, this is why. Getting usable material from gamers and developers is difficult, to say the very least. And, unfortunately, the people who are most willing to provide it are the pro gamers who get into scandals about statutory rape and horrifying behavior.
Last edited by gundato; 31-03-2014 at 11:01 PM.Steam: Gundato
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31-03-2014, 11:43 PM #2
I don't watch TV any-more, but I listen to podcasts and radio, read a lot from various sources, I've given up on music TV and stick to actual music... I think its because TV is desperate to hold your attention, I mean disgustingly needily so. Plots don't get resolved, facts are left until the last 30 seconds of documentaries and with subversive marketing and the opportunity to gamble for prizes with no specified odds.
Youtube is where I go for 2 things, guides and reviews, whether its cooking tuna steak or resetting a laptops bios youtube is ace, but I don't go there to be entertained, unless you include me listening to reviews of things I know will be terrible and enjoying the reviewers disbelief and rage.
I actually think the art of the documentary has started to die, and I don't refer to american bloated documentaries which have always been an exercise in assumption stated as fact and 5 minute interviews with people who know nothing, but the more aggressive and scientific brand British TV documentary like dispatches, horizon and countless BBC nature projects. But now everything is snappy and eyeball grabbing rather than science, just like the aforementioned american shows.
Dispatches and horizon links for foreign types who are unfammiliar.
Both went from fiercely analytical to pandering nonsense around 2006-2007, I cannot explain this rationally.
Last edited by Heliocentric; 31-03-2014 at 11:51 PM.I am once again writing a blog, vaguely about playing games the wrong way
31-03-2014, 11:49 PM #3
"They aren't the kinds of people who can DO PR."
Well, sort of no? They are the kind of people who can do PR and do PR magnificently well. They just wouldn't put up with shit.Videogames, eh?
31-03-2014, 11:52 PM #4
- Join Date
- Jun 2011
There are a few ways to stand out in the industry. One is to be outspoken and a media character, and build a whole cult of personality around yourself, do the TV stuff, etc. It certainly works. The other is just to make really good games.
It's the same in all media - there are bands that court the press and get a lot of publicity out of it, but there are other bands that have made it big and are notorious for being reclusive, not giving interviews, and letting the work stand for itself.
01-04-2014, 12:10 AM #5
Other required reading: pieces by devs involved in the event here, here, and here. They corroborate the Matti thing, and while they might just be trying to salvage relations with Polaris, I have my doubts.
I don't really see how this could be construed as a PR issue, at least not how you're framing it. The devs weren't representing themselves poorly, and they didn't going in naively thinking that this would just be another game jam. They were, however, expecting a basic level of professionalism and not, you know, blatant sexism.
01-04-2014, 12:28 AM #6
- Join Date
- Jun 2011
I am a programmer, and I would be happy If I don't have to talk to another human being, ever. The computer is sane, people is absolutelly crazy shit.I play mostly in the PS4, but I still love a good PC game
01-04-2014, 12:49 AM #7
‘That is TV’ alright, ineffectually ramming their warped piece into the jigsaw puzzle. Only problem is they’re holding a Jenga block.
01-04-2014, 12:51 AM #8
Imagine you have a politician who refuses to go on The Daily Show because he knows Jon Stewart is an asshole who is just going to make fun of him. Avoiding that is probably the smart move, but there is also the argument for embracing it and actually trying to have a discussion (while not technically a politician, there have actually been quite a few good discussions between Jon Stewart and Bill O'Reilley, and they are both insanely argumentative and sleazy assholes who push an agenda in the name of "entertainment)
That's kind of the problem. A lot of that reads like they were looking for a super "safe" environment, which would be nice but is, again, very limiting.
On the one hand, get the hell out. Don't put up with the bullshit.
But, unfortunately, that isn't going to change anything. While I fully support them saying "Yeah, we've had enough, fuck this" I also think the original response (to the first version of that question) of saying "If anything, they might have an advantage as they have more viewpoints" was a genius move.
To put things into a broader perspective, consider Neal Degrasse Tyson and Bill Nye (The Science Guy). The former is basically "the face of science' these days, and the latter is a childhood hero to almost everyone (and an adult hero to me, since he has had a really interesting career). They both take different approaches to the media and dealing with people with differing viewpoints.
Neal Degrasse Tyson goes into interviews with a plan. Famously, he figured out how to game Jon Stewart so he could get his message to a VERY large audience without being interrupted. That's a genius move.
Bill Nye recently had a "debate" with a major creationist. I think everyone can agree he accomplished absolutely nothing, and arguably gave the creationism argument credibility in doing so.
Whereas Neal Degrasse Tyson outright refuses to even entertain said notions. At face value, that is a good idea, but it also limits the audience and pretty much restricts him to "safe" environments. Which is great for people who are interested, but there is a reason that "science TV" fell out of favor: It only appeals to people who LIKE science and that just isn't a large enough demographic to justify it. You get that initial burst of people who are intrigued by the charisma and shinies, but they fade away after a few years.
And that is kind of the issue. These indie devs AREN'T PR people. They can handle a nice warm environment that says "You are awesome, tell us more", but they get very self conscious once they are outside of their comfort zones. Zoe has posted a lot of really interesting posts and what not on the sexism in games issue and I have a lot of respect for her (even if I am not huge on her games), but she is also almost an "internet tough guy" in that she is VERY cautious of discussing it outside of a controlled environment where she can think through everything and what not (as evident by the handling of the asshat at this event). That is a great mentality and it ensures you don't send mixed messages, but it also limits exposure. And that seems to be true of a lot of indie game devs.
So imagine you are THe Media. You need to make something entertaining. You want to interview the actual people who make the cool stuff, but they all refuse to do what "normal" celebrities and figures do. And that basically limits you to making circlejerk material, which might appeal to a very small demographic but won't interest anyone who doesn't already have an interest (think of watching a REAL historical documentary, not the drivel the history channel puts out).
So who do you turn to? The people who actually ARE willing to get in front of the camera and "play along" as a personality. Hopefully we get lucky and that is people like TB and Jesse Cox (even if he sometimes says some really questionable shit), but that is also probably going to be the "e-sports" folk who play to their crowds. Or they'll talk to the Fez guy if he decides to quit his "retirement" again. And do we really want THAT to be the face of the industry?
I personally can't think of a good solution for the problem, and I suspect this is going to face content creation as a whole.
The "I'm going to take my ball and go home" mentality is a safe one and one I advocate for individuals, but the problem is if the industry as a whole does it. Which just leaves the morons out there...
Last edited by gundato; 01-04-2014 at 12:53 AM.Steam: Gundato
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01-04-2014, 06:22 AM #9
Some people might buy a game regardless of who made it, but plenty of people won't buy a game purely because person X or publisher Y was involved. Public outbursts and perception can sink your game easily, particularly since there are so many games these days and countless clones of what sells well that one slipping beneath the waves (particularly in the indie sector) doesn't really mean much.Nalano's Law - As an online gaming discussion regarding restrictions grows longer, the probability of a post likening the topic to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea approaches one.
Soldant's Law - A person will happily suspend their moral values if they can express moral outrage by doing so.
01-04-2014, 07:34 AM #10
Wait, Swen from Larian is a problem how?
He's informative, he's excited about his product, he's personable ... he's a touch eccentric and he doesn't have a feel of corporate polish, but frankly as someone who has built up an immunity to that crap over a lifetime I find I'm LESS invested in the corporate polish and shine than I am in more human presentations.
It's one thing in a film that's supposed to be carefully designed and polished visual media. It's another thing in a press release that's supposed to get us interested in the game. I don't care if it's to the whole world or not--if the nature of the release matches the nature of the game that's good. If the game is slightly quirky and awkward and dry, bring on the developer who matches that character.
I really don't understand why you're complaining that games media isn't ... what, sterile and monotonous and tropish enough? Hell, I thought it was pat, bland, overpolished and largely empty of anything short of marketing and that the growing trend of home-brew PR was a refreshing change from that awful crap. And here you are saying we're going backwards.
Gaming is growing. Gaming doesn't need "The Media" to do that. It just needs ... media that people access. There's a world of difference there. It's a lot easier to access people in this age of information. We have this globe-spanning tanglevine of the stuff (GSTotS for short--could be catchier but hey, this stuff is pretty new). So you want to stand out in that great sea of information? Well ... you can't unless you have a lot of money (or the ear of someone with a lot of money) or the will and whim of the body public; the difference being you can now rely more and more on that will and whim should you capture it and/or on the power of your particular sub-mob to reorganize itself around your distribution channel once you get broadcasting whereas before we just sort of stopped at the "well you can't unless you have a lot of money (or the ear of someone with a lot of money)" part.
"The Media" is becoming less and less relevant. Which is not to say that corporations are losing control over the media. Rather that their primary function in controlling media is changing from content mediators to content gate-keepers; again a very important distinction in this age of the GSTotS. Increasingly, the Internet is creating more and more channels for word-of-mouth. The game now isn't to be the olden-days-IGN-like fountain of vaguely useless information but to watch all the user-guided channels and either manipulate them with savvy or with more expensive and sketchy mechanisms; the game isn't to get a correspondent from The Magazine to interview the PR dude about a games he only knows from index cards. That's boring. Everyone knows it's boring. And it's becoming less and less necessary. How is that a bad thing?
What's wrong with billing your game to the spaces you find safe and comfortable? That's your thing as an artist, dev team, industry sector. Why do we have to turn the gaming industry into a lean, mean, media-mogul-pleasing machine? Who is that helping? What broader purpose does that serve other than leveling up our collective PR skill bar until the bar goes ding to tell us there's stuff?
Last edited by gwathdring; 01-04-2014 at 07:53 AM.I think of [the Internet] as a grisly raw steak laid out on a porcelain benchtop in the sun, covered in chocolate hazelnut sauce. In the background plays Stardustís Music Sounds Better With You. Thereís lots of fog. --tomeoftom
You ruined his point by putting it in context thatís cheating -bull0
01-04-2014, 11:26 AM #11
"Which greatly limits the kind of exposure which can be obtained, which is sort of what I was going for near the end."
Yes, that's right. It means you don't get shit useless exposure that could potentially ruin your career because one person in charge of the show is a manipulative misogynistic piece of shit more obsessed with promoting a brand than either ensuring the show goes ahead smoothly or anyone involved in the show is safe and comfortable.
And AGAIN, these devs *are* fantastic at PR, you're just projecting your own ideas on to them and I'm sorry, it's not the case no matter how big a wall of text you write trying to defend it. This is not a bunch of shut in devs being shit at PR, this is a bunch of very good at PR devs walking away from a shitshow.
Last edited by RobF; 01-04-2014 at 12:28 PM.Videogames, eh?
01-04-2014, 12:00 PM #12
Though I agree on the fact that maybe if the whole industry "takes its ball and goes home" then there will only be the morons left, I think gwathdring is right. Gaming doesn't need traditional media to grow...this whole broader appeal thing is getting stale. This reminds me of Squeenix, who seemed to recognize this, albeit in a slightly different argument. (source)
01-04-2014, 12:13 PM #13
I wonder if all this will stir the ire of Disney, who now own Maker Studios and may look responsible in all of this.
The person I feel for the most is Zoe. She's probably going to get another round of shit from idiots, this time Jontron fans because she and him didn't get on too well.
In one way I'm glad that we can finally point at something whenever people claim that Youtube is "real". It's as real as MTV's The Real World.
01-04-2014, 01:04 PM #14
01-04-2014, 01:17 PM #15
In all fairness, does it matter what it was about?
I'm not sure what the argument was about, but if you read the article, they just didn't get along great. Clash of personalities. The two left the room to try discuss it and resolve it without distracting anyone else, camera followed. The guys in charge tried to get Jon to create drama later by putting a camera on him and asking him to slur Zoe and Jon refused. It sounds like there's no beef between the two and they just had a bit of a clash over something. Maybe Jon said something offensive, maybe she did, maybe one of them disagreed with the name of the game.
Zoe Quinn developed Depression Quest and when she submitted it to Greenlight she got a bunch of shit from people because she's a woman. If I made it sound she got shit because of him first time around, sorry that's not what I was referring to.
01-04-2014, 01:22 PM #16
Also, was there any reason she got harassed or was it just for having the audacity to make a game and release it? I just don't understand the level of vitriol against her so was interested to hear what happened.
01-04-2014, 01:28 PM #17
No there was no reason she got harassed. She's a woman, she wanted to put a game out on greenlight and apparently this is a massive issue. People where calling her a cunt, saying women are sluts, women can't be depressed, women don't know depression etc etc. She'd done nothing to attract all this other than she is a woman.
01-04-2014, 01:35 PM #18Nalano's Law - As an online gaming discussion regarding restrictions grows longer, the probability of a post likening the topic to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea approaches one.
Soldant's Law - A person will happily suspend their moral values if they can express moral outrage by doing so.
01-04-2014, 01:37 PM #19
They actually said that 'women don't know depression'? That's horrendously sad. I want to think that it's just some attention-seeking kids with no life experience, as I would have thought that any adult would know that mental health issues, depression and suicide are quite obviously not a male only affliction. Jesus.
Anyway, sorry for the off topic. Also, we're all cool Jesus_Phish.
01-04-2014, 01:44 PM #20