Game Dev, the science of social

So if you’re a game developer or gamer and you’ve been following the whole Phil Fish spectacle, then you already know how it ends.

What you don’t is that this sort of thing happens a lot more in our industry than you think. The only difference being that not all of us are Phil Fish.

This is what I posted on my Facebook page (open only to friends).

OK, I’m going to jump in here, feet first. I’ve been watching this from afar and with mild amusement.

However, as someone who has been around for a very – very – long time and who quietly makes a living from this fun business, I have to say that I am with Beer on this.

Hear me out.

There are a lot of drama queens in this business and if you look around, know people, know the history, you have to wonder wtf they actually have to show for all this drama? I mean, seriously think about it.

Kanye West, like Chris Brown and their ilk, is an asshole. I will never – ever – buy his music and if he got run over by a bus tomorrow, I’d go look at cat videos rather than spend one minute thinking about it. Not that I wish him death of course; my point is that it wouldn’t cause me to pause about the loss of what many believe to be a good musician while excusing his asshat behavior.

And similarly, there are those in the industry that simply drum up drama in order to make the news. I should know. Been there. Done that. Got the medals. Then I grew up. And during all that, I realized that it was better to let my works, my contributions and my respect for those who came before me, be the measure of who I am and what I have become.

At the end of the day, it is about respect. You have GOT to show respect, regardless.

The people in the media are humans just like all of us. Sadly, when you end up with asshats in the media and who have the power to somehow kill your product and or career, you have to walk that fine line between respect and abhorrence.

This is the very reason why, regardless of how you feel about it, publishers (and some devs) hire PR firms to be their mouthpiece. Those people are trained to be the buffer between “us and them”. And since they have a different relationship and not as close to the product they are shilling as you are, they are in a unique position to temper feelings.

If you have a shred of respect for your fellow devs, your gamers etc, then you should – at the very least – be able to show (even if you lack it) some respect to others who are part of the industry proper. Media or not.

The problem here is that there are many assholes in this business. And when you give assholes enough rope to hang themselves, trust me, they will. And if you time it correctly, they’ll do it in an unforgettable and spectacular fashion. And when that happens, everything that came before is forgotten.

There is a reason why we, as mainstream devs who are in the spotlight every now and again for some reason or another, have this love-hate relationship with the media. For me, even though I have my share of media frenemies, I still extend them the same respect and courtesy that I would to anyone who is deserving of it. And it’s not about kissing ass because I think everyone knows that I’ve written page spanning tomes about media people over the years. Yet, I run into those same people, do interviews etc it’s like “yeah, ok whatever man” because you can disagree, be angry and pissed. But what you cannot do is forget that showing respect is not a sign of weakness, but rather a show of integrity. And you can’t put a price tag on that.

If a media person asks you a question about something you don’t want to render an opinion on – and for whatever reason – you have the right to decline. Beer clearly wasn’t happy that he didn’t get some industry shattering response from Blow and Fish because he _knows_ that whatever comes out of those two is going to be headlines (good, bad or ugly) due to their outspoken nature. He just got pissed that it didn’t happen. He called them out on it. They both fell for it. What did he get? The vitriol that would otherwise have been evident in their missive about the XBone policy was now directed at Beer.

And both Blow and Fish fell for it. I guess he couldn’t find American McGee or Cliff Bleszinski 🙂

And Fish goes and cancels a game because of an INCONSEQUENTIAL spat that had NOTHING to do with the game? I mean seriously, who does that if not for the adrenaline induced drama?

So you made a game once. Once. And all of a sudden you’re willing to silence the voice you had because someone goaded you into an altercation?!?

Listen, the media can give you a voice and a pulpit. And they can take it away all the same. For the most part and for a few exceptions, they’re all a bunch of egotistical asshats whose sole purpose is to put others down in order to feel good about themselves. We call them bullies.

At the end of the day….

“Game developers are just human beings who happen to make games for a living. If you want to hold us up to higher standards of conduct, then go ahead …but don’t be surprised if we don’t uphold them.”

Follow-up Clarification:

Since this post is in two FB threads, let me also add the same clarification over here that I made to Ernest W. Adams thread regarding my line about “being with Beer on this”

ah!! I see what you mean now. In that line, I was referring to Beer’s inference which Owen encapsulated and memorialized in his Kotaku article:

self-styled kings of the indie genre,” and said the pair—whom he called “Blowfish”—were “bitching and moaning” about a reasonable media request for their reaction to a significant industry development. Beer in essence accused them of seeking publicity when it presented them in a favorable light but dismissing the press if it didn’t serve their promotional needs.

One thought on “Game Dev, the science of social

  1. Interesting thoughts there. I think many out there would agree to a certain amount of surprise at the extreme reaction to this by Fish and co. It’s equally interesting and disturbing to read the reactions of fans of both camps to the other parties.
    I fully agree that while social interaction with devs to the general public generates a certain amount of positive interest in their projects, it needs to be kept at least semi professional, as you are technically the public face of the project, warts and all. Also agreed that journalists make their living from sound bites, quotes and interviews so of course they are going to push hard. I feel the ability to rise above it helps define the quality of public impression.

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