Thursday, April 25, 2013

GDC2013 - Mad As Hell: Hothead Developers Rant Back

  • Karen Sideman, of GameLike, says she's not a psychopath but she plays one in game. We need healthier relationships with NPCs. She remembers playing Warcraft and commanding a two-headed ogre, one head that says, "I'm ready!" and the other saying, "But I'm not..." Characters in games were just game pieces before. Now there's a lot of narrative overlay there, but we're still manipulating the NPCs like game pieces. If we're doing this in any other context, we'd be labeled as psychopaths. Read The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson.
  • Anna Marsh, of Lady Shotgun, rants against crunch in the game industry. We don't have to work 18 hour days to make games. There's an unwritten rule that if you work in games, it becomes your life. But studies have shown that long hours are not productive if not even less productive. Management who relies on crunch is incompetent and we end up devouring ourselves. We need pre-production phase. We shouldn't just experience games; we need more experience outside of games. The raw material for our creativity is our experience and if we spend all our time immersed in games only, then our games are going to get more and more incestuous. Let's work efficiently and not obsessively. Rest makes better games.
  • Mitu Khandaker, of The Tiniest Shark, rants about race. Only 20% of the world population is white, but this is not true of games. Racism is a systemic thing. It's wrong to think that white is default and color is the other. When Mitu's company announced the game Red Shirt, there was a brown girl on the cover and everyone assumed it was modeled after her as if characters in games are always autobiographical. It is not a "politically correct" thing; everything is already political so treat it as such. As creators of content, we are the ones who get to define what "normal" is.
  • Kellee Santiago ranted about innovation in games. There's a myth that developers can become rich by releasing a hit game. This didn't happen for the developers who made Journey. There are new alternative funding possibilities like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, which are great because traditional publishers are not interested in innovation. Sometimes, a publisher would say they are interested in games like Journey, or Ico, or Flower, which sounds enticing to a developer. But then you realize they mean just that... they want Journey 2, Ico 2, and Flower 2, not another innovative game. There's a few indie developers who hit it rich like Minecraft, Dragonvale, and Clash of Clans. These developers have the power to change the industry. A similar thing has happened in the art world called the Renaissance, which wouldn't have happened without the patronage from rich people. The revolution has barely begun. We need to make innovative games and there are already many people who are out there making them, but we also need the press to cover the innovative games.
  • Scott Jon Siegel won the "Duct Tape Award" for giving the best rant from last year. Last year, he promised to make more games and give less talks. Looking at his progress over the year, he ended up making no games and giving no talks. He was pressured too much to make a good game and the pressure caused him to completely fail. So he started making bad games. Games don't need to be good to have value, they just need to be. We are making games for ourselves too, as much as we are making them for the audience.
  • Chris Hecker's gave a rant called "Fair Use" without speaking a single word. You can watch his rant here: .
  • Anna Anthropy recited a poem addressing gender issues in the game industry. You can read the transcription and watch a recording of it here: .
  • Naomi Clark ranted about cinema envy. She talked about the "New Hollywood" or "New Wave" period in film where people wanted to make more edgy, politically charged movies. Some films like The Spook Who Sat By the Door, which was about the civil rights struggle in the United States, got in trouble by the IRS and was removed from theaters. This is the kind of thing that us game developers should get in trouble for, not for being potty-mouthed teens obsessed with boobs. We need to approach political issues in games and one suggestion is to create games that come from anger. There are a few games that do this right now like Unmanned, Keep Me Occupied, and Half the Sky. But change doesn't come from a single game, it takes a movement. Apple is rejecting Sweatshop and Phone Story from the App Store, and this is the start of our movement.
  • Margaret Robinson, of Hide & Seek, hates people. We are everywhere, we're an infection, we're a disease that creeps into every game. She hates Game Center, she hates X-Box Live, she hates Ascension noise. She also hates GDC and all the intelligent, expressive things that developers say. Now, she has to do the same thing. She reacts strongly to multiplayer games because they're so powerful and emotionally revealing. Her identity is revealed when playing games. She loves making games, but there's something weird in her head that stops her from accessing them.

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