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IMO: How IGDA Can Save Itself

Todd Wohling / November 25, 2014 at 8:00 AM / Gaming, Opinions

IGDA, the International Game Developers Association, states the following as its mission:

To advance the careers and enhance the lives of game developers by connecting members with their peers, promoting professional development, and advocating on issues that affect the developer community.

Which seems strange, given IDGA’s connection to the GDC, and the GDC’s willingness to put bigots that aren’t game developers on panels.  However, usurping the will of the consumer and the creative process of developers while undermining the stated mission of IGDA is another discussion for another time.  I want to focus specifically on the “professional development” part of that mission.

Software Development in the Real World

As much as the Northeast and NorCal Independent Games “development” scene and their propaganda arm want you to Listen and Believe™ otherwise, there are huge swaths of the tech industry that inhabit the real world.  Software development in the real world is government by a comprehensive set of standards and processes which guide team members through design, code, integration, test, quality assurance, delivery, operations, and maintenance.  The processes are tailored at various levels throughout a business unit, depending on how big that business unit is.  The standards and processes provide a consistent basis for a customer to know what to expect from a development organization.  Apparently, this is problematic for an organization, like IGDA, with professional development as a part of its mission statement, as evidenced by the examples they give of IGDA members in action.  Top priority is networking.  Second priority is “Quality of Life”.  Where are standards and guidelines for games development?  Dead last among six listed examples, and none of links for this example worked at the time of writing.

The Block List

So, should it be a surprise to anyone an organization that advertises as one of professional development, but in practice acts as a middle school cafeteria, would refrain from engaging a well-known

IGDA Salt

A Case Study in how not to apologize.

development best practice for a piece of developed code?  It’s clear the twitter block list was placed on the IGDA website as an anti-harassment resource without anyone at IGDA peer reviewing the code.  If someone (Kate Edwards, perhaps) had taken the time to review the tool’s code and/or receive a demonstration for how the tool works, they’d have known all of the following:

  • The code does not comply with its requirement, originally defined as: to block some of the worst offenders in the recent wave of harassment.
  • The code does not comply with its redefined requirement: to quickly mass block some of the worst offenders in the recent wave of harassment and those who follow these offenders.
  • The code contains array and variable names that are abusive, insulting, or pejorative toward potential customers.

If someone in the real world had written this piece of code and submitted it in an official capacity, they would get fired.  It would be easy to lay all of the responsibility at the feet of Randi Harper, who developed the tool in the first place.  However, in professional organizations, the developer is not left on an island to fend for himself/herself when writing code.  No, this failure is an organizational failure of IGDA.  Kate Edwards, IGDA Executive Director, demonstrates a profound lack of understanding of the development process with her response to inquiries on the tool:

Read the disclaimer: *not* the @IGDA’s tool or list. But like people, tools are imperfect; we’ve removed it for now.

Ms. Edwards, it is irrelevant that gg autoblocker is not IGDA’s tool.  It is very relevant that the tool didn’t do what the requirement said it should do; furthermore, it is trivial to argue that the sheer volume

IGDA 2

This is how IGDA likes to refer to its members.

of false positives based on the shoddy coding of the tool results in the tool being an avenue for harassment itself.  It is very relevant that the Chairman of IGDA Puerto Rico, Roberto Rosario, was called by the tool, endorsed without review by IGDA, a “problem”, “idiot”, “monster”, and “harasser”.  Finally, it is very relevant the developer of this tool IGDA unconditionally endorsed writes profanity laden responses to comments about her code.  In short, Randi Harper’s conduct is so Bush League, to not review code she writes and post it on an IGDA website borders on negligent.

How to Solve IGDAs Problem

At this point, it seems we need the Board of Directors of IGDA to step in, since the Executive Director clearly is asleep at the wheel.  So, Mr. Buscaglia, as chair of IGDA, I recommend taking action against Ms. Edwards, Ms. Harper (if possible), or potentially re-naming your organization.  As an engineer, I love acronyms.  Here’s a couple of ideas, given the colossal mismanagement of this event: FUBAR and SNAFU.


Todd Wohling

A long time ago on an Intellivision far, far away my gaming journey started with Lock n' Chase, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons The Cloudy Mountain, and Night Stalker. I earned both a BS-Physics and a BS-Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Today I spend most of my time on PC. I left a career of 14 years in aerospace in Colorado, so I could immigrate to Norway.