Sunday, November 18, 2007

Facing A Small Little Evil

James P Carse, the theologian and author, once described evil as the need to silence another utterly.

I have argued for individual game designers to be seen and granted direct rights. Their name on the box; the ability to ultimately earn gross revenues (which can only be earned with individual recognition); the creative freedom to move from project to project (instead of being treated as a cog in a game development machine - a process which, by the way, ensures nothing but formula will be made).

In response to vocally fighting for these rights, the folks who gather around the IGDA forums - well, some of them at least - have descended to hurtling their rotten shit at me. And some admins have deleted all my posts (thank God I saved a few to repost here).

It is their shit, but they can't stand smelling it, so they accuse others of being responsible for it. In this case, this shit is the awful implications of having to stand apart as an individual creator and make a name for oneself. A lot of people who believe that work alone can take you to the top - that talent should be removed from the equation - must look at this and be utterly terrified. The idea that the industry might change such that some unknown game designer might appear out of nowhere with a design doc a thousand times better than anything they had done would probably keep them awake at night.

They stand behind excuses like the game industry is too collaborative, it can't work that way, you can't tell from a design document if it will make a good game (a load of shit if I ever heard one), etcetera, etcetera. Well, the film industry has always been that collaborative, and yet film did develop an auteur concept - a development that lead movies out of the swamp of Saturday afternoon pulp culture to the heights of actual, mainstream art. Another excuse: experience is everything. I remember one man telling the anecdote of how he had been working 20 years in a company, but then some new guy with only 5 years of experience was promoted over him. The listener asked the complainer to be honest: you don't have 20 years of experience; what you really have is 2 years multiplied 10 times over.

To Ogre and the rest at the IGDA. You can crush a few postings, but you can't destroy an idea. You can't crush a spirit.

And now, to reinforce your position, as it emerges that design is an art in and of itself, because you have chosen your stance - that it is just like any other labor - you will have to repeatedly crush this idea over and over and over again.

Then one day you will wake up and realize that you were on the wrong side of history. One day that game designer will appear and sell that design document and suddenly the entire industry will come apart. That rotten house you've built will crumble.

How do I know this will happen? It already has. Read up on the history of the studio system in the movie business. The companies originally had the power, but slowly it became apparent the individual creators were far more valuable than the entities that employed them. They simply voted with their feet.

I do not envy you.

16 comments:

Patrick said...

Let me get back to you in a week, I'll let you know if I'm successful in making a stand here.

Paul Sinnett said...

Were you breaking any forum rules? What was the reason for deleting all of your posts?

Grassroots Gamemaster said...

The reason was I kept stating that the industry could change. For example, my most early post - the Value of a Game Designer - was a posting directly from that flame war. Saying that was what I got in trouble for.

They spent a lot of their time shitting on me. Over and over and over again. Just read the thread. I did not attack them. However - this is what I think they hated - I would not back down in my defiant stance that game designers should be able to act as individuals; not tied at the hip to a game company.

I also told them that shitting on me was not a valid counter-argument. One posting I entered a link to the "ad hominem" definition on Wikipedia about 5 times.

Paul Sinnett said...

Why would you call it a flame war? Were you deliberately provoking the other forum members?

It's a shame that your posts were deleted for IGDAs sake too. It makes the whole group look bad because of the reactions of a minority. As a game developer myself I don't find your views objectionable or inflammatory in the slightest.

However, your language is crude at times. It seems to me it might be your attitude and your writing style rather than your opinions that got your messages deleted.

Grassroots Gamemaster said...

Why? Because it is a universal reaction to shit on the guy who says that you can do something different, that's why.

It scares people. They put a lot of time and effort - and get their ego invested - in developing a system that is to be used to develop games. And then somebody comes along and says that system has problems. They don't like it.

This happens all the time. When people get emotionally invested in a system, they feel threatened if somebody says that it may be as much of a problem as a solution.

The Catholic church did the same to Galileo when he had the gumption to challenge the doctrine that the Earth was the center of the universe. Hell, if you watched 60 Minutes last Sunday (18 Nov 2007) you would have witnessed a story where a lawyer knew that a person was being tried for a murder he hadn't committed, but couldn't reveal that because his client had told him that he - not the guy on trial - had actually done it. After the guy on trial (who lost, was convicted) committed suicide the lawyer came forward and revealed this. What do you think the response of the judge was? To bless him for setting the record straight? No. The judge shit on him for not playing within the system - and now he is in a load of trouble for "violating client-attorney privilege" (or whatever the hell it's called).

It is absolutely normal that these people should feel threatened. I have challenged their mental and emotional construct of the way the game industry is supposed to work, and when peoples' world views and belief systems are challenged it scares the hell out of them. And when that happens they lash out.

Paul said...

"Why? Because it is a universal reaction to shit on the guy who says that you can do something different, that's why."

If that's what you want to think. But you gave them an excuse. They can avoid the issues because they can legitimately claim that your stated purpose was to engage in a flame war.

It seems to me that you have only served to weaken the cause. Now anyone proposing similar ideas will also have to deal will being presumed guilty by association.

Grassroots Gamemaster said...

Weaken the cause? What cause? Where's the headquarters? Who is it's leader? What are it's campaign undertakings?

If you study revolutions and mass movements of various types, there always has to be a very early period where the status quo is ridiculed. It's instrumental.

Later on an event occurs that fractures the status quo irreversibly, and when that happens there is an explosion of new creativity and growth - like a Wild West or an Internet revolution.

Anyway, the part where people ridicule the status quo is a dirty job at the beginning, but somebody has to do it. The guys who do that ridiculing do not often benefit from the change that comes (it's the "men of action" later on that do), but without them, the new growth wouldn't occur.

A classic example is Steve Jobs and the microcomputer revolution. In the early days of the personal computer (when it was differentiated from non-personal computers [e.g. IBM mainframes]), Steve Jobs was messianic in his attack on old-school business and their pre-GUI, anti-intuitive approach to computing. He was likened as fanatical in his attacks on IBM in particular. Look at the famous 1984 Mac Superbowl advert. Jobs was instrumental in bringing in the revolution that was the GUI interface to computers. It enabled the computing revolution. However, the guy who benefited the most was Bill Gates when he came in and lifted the Mac GUI in the form of Windows.

Fortunately for Jobs, he was able to gain post-revolutionary success when he returned to Apple some time later - but his work as the guy that smashed the status quo was absolutely instrumental.

That's just an example.

In the case of fracturing the status quo on my crusade, can you tell me, honestly, that politely waiting for little incremental changes will amount to anything? No. Somebody has to smash things up. They have to point out how stupid these parties are - to just blindly believe that things can only be done one way; that the *only* way to develop new games is to wait for indie teams of programmers to make them (which, naturally means you'll only get new ideas that appeal to the kind of demographic that makes up the indie team). They are blinded by their rigidity and their assumption that conventional wisdom is the *only* ways to do things. (History is full of old "conventional wisdoms" that were found wanted and are now on the dust heap.)

The reason I do it anonymously is I know full well that they would blacklist me if it ever came out who I was. They don't get it that my mission as GRGM is not to be nice - it's to smash things; to sweep the old crust away. (I am nice in my ordinary work - but that's not my role here.) After I am done being one of the revolutionaries I hope to benefit from being able to claim a piece in the new lands that open up for everyone. Whether that happens or not is anyone's guess. But I can still hope.

I would say to you, if you want to start the revolution, write up your design document and submit it. It has to be well read and well thought out. It shouldn't be overlong (the more succinct, the better); it shouldn't try to answer all the questions (just the core ones); but it should be original and inspiring. Then make polite enquiries and ask if you can submit it. Places are starting to open up.

the ogre said...

My apologies for making you believe that I am in any way affiliated with IGDA - I merely left that as a clue as to where I came from, rather than lambasting you out of complete randomness. I should have realized that your acute persecution complex would render you unable to use the information in any way other than to assume that I was the vanguard of IGDA's attack on your personal mission. As such I have changed my URL to www.apple.com, in the hope that you will now believe that Steve Jobs hates you.

Your theologian (Carse) is a rambling one, his theories strung together - much like yours - because he likes the way they sound. He drives rules onto the real world because, like many religious authorities, he cannot accept it for what he sees and cannot bring himself to effect any kind of change on it through action. Thus, he - like you - develops an arbitrary set of rules and then squints this way and that at the world until it seems momentarily to fit them.

How many people waste their lives doing this? Each of them wanting to be another Democritus, another Augustine, desperately arranging and rearranging words, trying to find the correct order that will make history remember them as a great thinker.

You'll find that you do this in every walk and aspect of your life - the job, the significant other - even as here. Whenever there's a disagreement you just can't understand why, no matter how many times you repeat yourself, they just don't seem to hear you.

I'll give you a hint - when they don't agree with you, it doesn't matter how you reorder and extemporize, they still won't agree with you. You have to either analyze or synthesize, and you don't do either of these things.

You will never defeat the ogre this way. The ogre only agrees with things he believes are correct. I have explained this to you before, but I will state it bluntly here.

Until you compose some piece of prose that impresses me I have no use for your ideas. Your entire purpose is to become a game designer, and from what I've read of your literature your games would be dull, mawkish and derivative. I cannot bring myself to care about independent game designers with the example you have shown thus far.

You are a failure masquerading as a tortured genius. If you are truly the pure soul you like to pretend, then take this to heart - talk is cheap. Get better talk.

the ogre said...

Ah! I happened upon this little gem in your comments:

"The Catholic church did the same to Galileo when he had the gumption to challenge the doctrine that the Earth was the center of the universe. Hell, if you watched 60 Minutes last Sunday (18 Nov 2007) you would have witnessed a story where a lawyer knew that a person was being tried for a murder he hadn't committed, but couldn't reveal that because his client had told him that he - not the guy on trial - had actually done it. After the guy on trial (who lost, was convicted) committed suicide the lawyer came forward and revealed this. What do you think the response of the judge was? To bless him for setting the record straight? No. The judge shit on him for not playing within the system - and now he is in a load of trouble for "violating client-attorney privilege" (or whatever the hell it's called)."

Are you Galileo, torn between believing in his religion and believing in the irrefutability of his evidence? No, you are typical of your breed, using the fact that "they" all laughed at Galileo - who was of course also "right" - to prove that because "they" laugh at you, you are therefore "right" as well.
Be careful, because this is a favored tactic of net cranks, and I would never want our dear Sir Sodswell to appear to be a net crank.

As for the lawyer, do you really believe that legally-protected privilege is something that can be violated when it "feels right" to do so? Should your doctor perhaps tell your employer about your diagnosis of clinical depression because he thinks "they have a right to know"?

For someone who claims to maintain anonymity to protect his identity it seems strange that you should argue for full disclosure of this kind. But, when I recall that you are terribly shortsighted, unwilling to learn anything and generally not very bright, then it all makes sense again.

Grassroots Gamemaster said...

Ogre, I could give a shit about impressing you. I could give a shit about you at all.

Yet you seem to be very interested in me. You even have constructed little illusions in your mind about who I am.

Now why would that be?

You know what psychologists say about... projection...

Look it up.

Anonymous said...

The IGDA is for game developers.
You have not shown that you are one, therefore, they are not out of line to remove you.

the ogre said...

Where is the illusion? You only do one thing, and you suck at it. Ergo you are a failure, QED. I'm sure that in the real world you are a wonderful person. Here, you project the image of a failure.

Grassroots Gamemaster said...

Ogre, you keep projecting your mental image of me onto me. But you keep forgetting that it isn't me - it's your image of me.

The fact is you have no idea what I do.

You don't even know who I am?

When a person advances an argument, the opponent should always respond to the content of the argument - never to the person who makes the argument.

the ogre said...

And what do you do? Put forward your "argument", and then claim that anyone who disagrees is a status-quo-loving weakling with no imagination.

It doesn't matter who you think you are in the "real world", or what you think you do there. That place is not here. Here, all you are is a troll - announcing that everyone else is wrong and you are right, trucking out tiresome "rules of argument" which you use at your convenience to claim that other people shouldn't criticize you, and then breaking them in your next sentence.

And through it all, you still fail to recognize that you only have to do one thing right to impress the Ogre - the thing you were trying to do originally, the thing you gave up on in favour of hollow theorization.

What happened to your art - your raison d'etre? Did it fall utterly by the wayside when you rose to greater heights of complaining? Allegorical prose was the only tool you had to legitimately communicate your ideas, and you've thrown it away.

In my opinion you weren't that good at it to begin with - probably because you weren't really trying very hard - but what are you doing now? Whining - in a blog - with nothing to separate you from all the other blog whiners and forum trolls in the world.

Get distinctive or go home.

Grassroots Gamemaster said...

Ogre, you *are* very interested in me.

You said the word "you" (or a variant on "you") 26 times in that comment. The comment is 233 words long (did a quick cut-and-paste into MS Word). The word "you" alone takes up more than 10 percent.

What is it about me that interests you so much?

It's like old-schoolmaster hazing ad nauseum. You aren't at all interested in the independent content in my posts - rather you're totally interested in me. Crushing me, I think. Maybe I represent something you detest. I don't know... artistic freedom, something like that.

I think you're one of those people who says "Who the hell do you think you are?" when somebody who is creative has the audacity to propose doing something new. Like Galileo. He had this weird idea that the Earth wasn't the center of the universe, but the Church said, "Who the hell do you think you are? Do you think you're important? Where do you get off thinking you're so important that you can say something which violates our peace of mind so much and throws the world into question?"

You will point out that I am saying "you" here as well - but I will then remind you I didn't escalate it to this. You played the "you" card, buddy. Like, when you take that first shot and things go to hell you have only yourself to blame. Here I am on the defensive since you've decided to put me - not my ideas - under your crosshairs.

I will remind you that you can't judge *me* here since I make no link to anything that I have done.

Called the rules of argument "tiresome" if you want. But if you want truth, there they are.

the ogre said...

Oh, word statistics! What next, the Gunning Fog Index?

GG, you're not creative, you just like to argue. Furthermore, anyone who would call rules of argument "the truth" is already wandering far afield from reason.

I will reiterate my previous point. You only do one thing and you suck at it. Do you try to defend your ideas by pointing out their merit? By stating them more convincingly? No, whenever anyone doubts your holy word, suddenly you're Galileo and they're the Vatican. To say this is to confuse Galileo, a man with scientific evidence of a phenomenon, with you and a million other rambling bloggers on the net, talking about things for which your only evidence is the strength of your associated opinion.

But the sad thing is that before, when I said this, I was talking about your storytelling. Now you've abandoned the stories and become a demagogue. This is both how and why you've failed. Drop this troll act and go back to telling stories - which might actually mean something.

This is my last piece of advice. I will not trouble you again.