Interactions in the Industry: Developers Are Dancing with Danger

As is continually being said, this is a time of great change and innovation.  The bounds of what is feasible are being pushed exponentially further every year.  I mean, who would have thought 13 years ago that there would be a site where you could read the words of their idols and friends as soon as they were written?  And yet, now the problem isn’t finding such a site but choosing which one you want to use from the multitude of options that litter the internet landscape.  Even in what used to be an esoteric hobby, social media has woven its seductive charms as more and more developers are using and, even making mandatory the use of, social media interaction.  The goal, it is often assumed, is to foster a closer bond with the consumers that would make up their fan-base.  And fans get the indirect benefit of a purer look into the all the mysticism that used to be video game development; they get to see developers not as wizards crammed high in black stone towers but as the regular, enthusiastic people they are.   It might be, though, that the unintentional Iron Curtain that cloaked the industry due to slower communication might have been a boon.

Long gone are the days when the only taste most people could get of an unreleased game would be from a few gaming magazines.  We exist in a time where we can hastily type a 140 character blurb that we come to regret faster than we wrote it.  This is the time we all live in and it’s getting some developers into a bit of hot water.  While learning that developers are just people, we seem to have forgotten that developers are just people.  Fans simultaneously want their industry giants to be both heart-warmingly personal and professionally distant.  Have you never met a person who does decent work but has a few bad ideas?  That’s akin to asking if you have ever met a person before; I should hope that you have, else your existence has been incredibly lonely.  Everyone has at least one bad idea that someone really ought to have disillusioned them of a long time ago.  That is the problem here.  In all the lovey-dovey hugging between fans and developers, some unfortunate facts have come to light: she farts when she laughs too hard, he leaves the toilet seat up, Phil Fish has an inflated sense of himself, and Adam Orth lives in an area where getting connected to the internet isn’t a problem.  We fans are changing our expectations based on what the situation currently is and, for the most part, it’s screwing over normal people.  There were plenty of Microsoft fans that echoed Orth’s tweet, maybe he was echoing them.  But the fact that he was supposed to be somehow better than that, better than people who share their opinions, painted him in so harsh a light that it is no wonder so few people could even see the man.  He simply became a shadow, a faceless spook that harbored all the foul ideas that we abhor, embodied in a single point ripe to hate on.  It’s not right and I doubt it will ever be right.

So where do we go from here?  That is the final point in a list of questions we must ask ourselves.  “What do we really want from our interactions?” should be asked first.  If we truly want the transparency and honesty then we have to be a bit more accepting of faults.  No, idiotic remarks shouldn’t be given a free pass but it should be remembered that whenever you make a mistake it isn’t scrutinized by thousands and then used to beat you over the head in every engagement after.  If we just want the information, the developers should likely just retreat back behind their Iron Curtain and leave the interaction to their PR agents.  Without a doubt, we could get all the information about the game that we would ever want from specialized representatives and they would tie it in a nice, sterile bow, with sparkly confetti and maybe a cupcake to take away as a parting gift.  But people, real people, are begrimed by their world views.

What do you want: a sterile environment or a natural environment?  Because the two are mutually exclusive.