An indie developer, who has requested to remain anonymous (but whom has been verified) considering the recent string of harassment and attacks on the internet, has chosen to speak out about the recent controversies in the gaming industry. He has seen first hand how the industry works, as a developer, and also has experience in the media (though not gaming journalism). The fact that he comes from a Post-Soviet Union country, which as you will see in the interview, also plays a role in forming his worldview.
Based on his experiences in the industry so far, coupled with past experience, he wanted to give insight into what he sees as the problem with the gaming industry today. He allowed TechRaptor to be the platform for his voice, which we are honored to be.
He offers a unique point of view worth voicing, as he comes from an area of the world that is not necessarily known for its game development, or for being a significant part of the gaming industry (maybe in eSports though). And, of course, we get an insight from a hopeful indie developer trying to make his mark on the industry.
Below is an interview regarding the gaming industry and recent news. Let me first say thank you to the developer for allowing us this interview. One thing to note: the responses here were edited only for clarity and ease of reading purposes. They were the extent of adding a “the” or an “a” here and there. This was all done with the interviewee’s permission, with him okaying all of the edits.
One final thing: the ideas expressed here are not necessarily shared by myself or TechRaptor but are the interviewee’s own.
What made you decide to go into game development?
Game development is a great way to express yourself on a global scale. Games in general are a unique experience that remove boundaries between cultures. I cannot reach a large variety of audience as a writer because my native language is understood by only the local population. Filmmaking has its own limitations, I am stone-deaf for music, so game development was a natural choice as I had enough skills in modeling and programming to get me started.
My game is a 3D puzzle/horror and the topic taps a taboo subject – false rape and sexual harassment accusations. I am trying to capture the horror of false accusations in a man’s life.
Nowadays it’s very popular to speak about how men are inherently animals who constantly harass and rape women. Nobody is willing to explore what happens to the “real victims.” Art is all about tough questions. Following one’s playbook to correctly express yourself and ask only pre-determined questions is evil, just evil.
How do you feel about game development now that you have been doing it for awhile?
Game development is a tough job. Unlike other mediums, it’s easier to ask questions and allow several sets of solutions, but extremely hard to express the questions and answers in an unusual way. And then here comes gameplay and game mechanics. Those two create an “experience.” Good gameplay creates more unique experiences per player. A game without gameplay or game mechanics is an interactive story, and I don’t think those two are the same. Calling a game an interactive story is offensive to game designers.
What issues with development have you run into, on a personal level, or with journalists, other developers, or other members of the industry?
On a personal level, I have sacrificed my social life, and that’s ok. Making games gives me enough sense of fulfilment not to whine about what is missed, Friday nights in bars or Saturday barbecues with friends. When I first fired up UDK I already knew I was sacrificing my social life and putting myself through hell.
I have not had any real interactions with journalists. Fellow developers are always supportive. Sometimes I am just amazed how far they will go to help you solve a problem.
Do you think the gaming industry is in a good position right now?
I cannot speak about the AAA side of the industry but in light of the latest events, I feel sorry for the indie scene. The main reason I decided to make an indie game was a well-known movie about the indie scene where now well-established developers posed themselves as artists. They praised independence and creative freedom and pissed on AAA studios.
Today we are on a crossroad. Direction A means we, as indie developers commit ourselves to censorship and Direction B means we keep our “artistic freedom.” I was expecting the very same people from the movie to push events in Direction B’s favor but now one of them agrees that gamers are dead, one of them whines and acts like a toddler and others keep radio silence.
So yes, I feel sorry for indie scene. Today the indie scene is betrayed and raided by clueless people.
To switch gears for a moment, you mentioned that you worked for a large media outlet. What did you learn there that can be applied to the gaming industry?
There is no subject you cannot discuss and discussion requires you to be respectful toward your opponent. Even the worst “enemy” deserves respect during an argument. Without respect discussion derails and becomes pointless screaming.
Part of the respect is having real evidence against an opponent. Just because you think somebody is wrong doesn’t make him actually wrong.
These notes were in an editorial playbook and the same notes were actually used by journalists.
So, it would be great if the USA/UK based large publications took notes from a 3rd world outlet.
Now that you have experience on both sides, in the media and as a developer, what do you see as the biggest issues in the industry today?
Lack of honesty and fear of the truth. I think current mainstream media are the cancer of the industry. I am not saying that tech media is all about gadgets and games. No, every single outlet should address problems in the industry but discussion must be open and free from name calling. The magazine, where I worked, was a right wing publication and even they omitted name calling. Not a single mention of communist, Marxist or something like that and you know why? Because every editor was a professional journalist. They knew what ethics was, they knew one sided arguments and name calling was cheap.
This kind of attitude led our nation to open dialogue, helped us to discuss touchy topics and in result we are just a bit better society. We need same approach in the industry and not the Polygon like approach where journalists and moderators label you as a rape apologist if you question prominent feminist’s intentions and qualifications. We don’t need Kotaku where journalists self moderate discussion and threaten everyone who doesn’t agree with their view.
What made you decide to speak out now?
50% personal fears and 50% of historical experience with my country.
As I mentioned before, my game is about a taboo topic, and I am doomed to be called sexist, a misogynist and victim blamer by some in the media. In a healthy industry, every game would be judged by quality and not by how it reflects current agendas. If games are art, we must agree that art is not a concrete substance. Realism is a valid form of art. I love realism. Frankly reality is gray. So, excuse me if I don’t buy irrational feminists white and black ideas that men are inherently rapists and women are victims. As an artist, I want to explore every side of the issue.
On the historical experience note – the history of the last two centuries in my country is a history of oppression and censorship. The brightest minds of our society were executed and alienated by authorities. The only acceptable topics in art were topics mandated by censors. In the result a once rich culture drained and became anti-art. I know how dangerous censorship is. Censors killed culture with several centuries worth of experience and now imagine what they can do to a culture as young as video games.
We want to thank the interviewee again for this opportunity to be the platform for his voice.
Note: The ideas expressed here are not necessarily shared by the author or TechRaptor, but are the interviewee’s own.