Wednesday, August 13, 2008

More Blasphemy

Putting some more of my comments on Gamasutra up here before they get deleted. These ones on the tension between group and individual in game development...


On a recent opinion by Raph Koster I said...

The thing I can't stand about Koster is his insistence on unifying the game industry into one giant homogenous monolithic singularity.

"We're building a lot of our worlds looking backward instead of looking at the world now."

"We have to change our definition of..."

"If you’re still reading 'Snow Crash,' you’re going in the wrong direction, because it's not 1992 anymore..."

What *we* need to do is shut the hell up and let individual designers free to do whatever it is they please. Leave the megalithic corporate-think to Microsoft or whatever. Game design is an art form, and it is the *Kiss of Death* to impose external criteria as if they are god-given-truth on creators.

On Gamasutra's recent list of 20 "developers" to watch - in which they didn't name the creators, only the companies, I said...
Who are the actual developers - the human beings - who are worth watching? Where's the detective work on this? We need to be interested in this game designer, that programmer or this artist far more than this or that company. Companies are just shells that own stuff. Games are made by people. Who are the people?
Then I followed with another comment...
From what I can tell the list reads something like this...

1.) Kyle Gabler
2.) Joseph M. Tringali, Jeremiah Slaczka
3.) Frank Lantz
4.) Katsura Hashino, Shigenori Soejima
5.) Tom Fulp, John Baez, Dan Paladin
6.) Max Hoberman
7.) Tim Schafer
8.) Goichi Suda
9.) Randy Pitchford
10.) Vlad Ceraldi, Joel DeYoung, Ron Gilbert
11.) Steve Fawkner
12.) Akihiro Hino
13.) Mark Healey, Alex Evans
14.) Mare Sheppard, Raigan Burns
15.) Shinji Mikami, Atsushi Inaba
16.) Dylan Cuthbert, Kenkichi Shimooka
17.) Jenova Chen, Kellee Santiago
18.) Masato Maegawa
19.) Michael Booth
20.) Dave Gilbert
Chris Remo rebutted, telling me that game development is collaborative, and that it's too hard to pick out who these individual creators are. To this I responded...

Also, a football team is made up of a lot of people - however, that doesn't stop us from learning and talking about star players like Bret Favre, Joe Montana, etc.

Also, a film is made by many people - however, that doesn't stop us learning about key creators like William Golding, Steven Spielberg, Francois Truffaut, Roman Polanski, etc.

Also, many people are needed to construct a building - however that doesn't stop us giving recognition to key designers like Frank Lloyd Wright, Daniel Libskind, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, etc.

(Shall I continue...?)

There is no excuse for the game industry to obstinately refuse to acknowledge and celebrate the talent of those individuals who have exceptional talent.


elias said...


Grassroots Gamemaster, said...

Sorry, my bad.

Patrick said...

I agree with the content of your messages and know first hand the emotional weight in them, but I think your terse tone invites people to demonize you and your perspective when they should be considering it as empathetic to their own experience.

Grassroots Gamemaster, said...


Thanks for taking the time to comment. I think the tone you are espousing works in a business negotiation scenario. However, what I'm doing here is basically activism. If I try to espouse radical change with a toned-down approach I think people will listen briefly, then dismiss me and things will remains as they are.

Basically, I believe I need to speak with fire and passion. True evangelizing. It's the only way to make an impression. I'm on a soapbox here so I have to act that way. Yes, it kind of sucks for - people will think I'm an a*hole. But what's interesting is that when people hear such a radical and passionately (sometimes ferociously) delivered message, they may call the speaker crazy, but they often secretly admit the truth of the message, and make real changes to compensate.


Raph Koster said...

Saw your comment on Gamasutra, followed it back. Interesting blog.

I thought you might like to see the actual speech, rather than just Gama's take. We're more aligned than you think, I suspect.

Brice said...

EA tried to make designers like Bill Budge into celebrities in the 80s - no one cared. It may be coming soon, but we're not in an age where individuals can take credit for games. At this point it's still companies.

Grassroots Gamemaster, said...

Brice, shall I mention the circular nature of your view.

As in, perhaps "we're not in an age where individuals can take credit for games" because the studios didn't care to promote the individuals who make the games.

I could also mention Sid Meier and Will Wright (and others that game designers know of).

However, maybe the worst thing to "not comment on" is an existential viewpoint that posits that it is less important to know of the human beings who create things than the corporations that own their work. I wouldn't want to comment on how truly dark such an outlook is.

Colm said...

Excellent post, keep it up. Subscribed for more!