Category: News Archive
Written by WorstUsernameEver
Using Brenda Brathwaite and Tom Hall's Old-school RPG Kickstarter campaign as a starting point, Jay "Rampant Coyote" Barnson writes on the subjects of authorship and competition in the indie games space. Here's a sampling:
While itâ€™s certainly possible that I might say, â€œOh, crap, I spent too much money on games this month between Kickstarter and purchases, so I cannot (yet) buy this really cool gaming thatâ€™s coming out this week!â€ But itâ€™s not a direct, zero-sum relationship. Iâ€™ve had months where Iâ€™ve bought no games at all, and months â€“ like this one â€“ where Iâ€™ve gone overboard. There are a lot of variables involved. So while there is competition, it is not zero-sum, and money allocated to one title is not directly harming the sales of another.
Which brings me to one big variable:
Itâ€™s not so much â€œcelebrity designersâ€ as it is authorship. Authorship is something that has lost a lot of ground (by necessity and by design) in the AAA world. When you have a development team measured in triple digits, itâ€™s going to be very hard for anybodyâ€™s contribution â€“ even the lead designerâ€™s â€“ to really exert a powerful influence on the game. Really, it takes a commitment on the part of the studio and publisher to make sure that happens â€“ and to give the responsible parties credit. Publishers have very little motivation to do so, as they can own a property, but they canâ€™t own a designer. A designer who becomes too much of a â€˜celebrityâ€™ can very easily leave a former studio and franchise and do their own thing with all kinds of support coming from their â€œcred,â€ and cast doubt as to the future of a company or franchise trying to soldier on without them â€“ much like a rock band replacing its lead singer.
We used to have it in the old days, before publishers began dominating the industry like they did in the early 90s. Thatâ€™s where a lot of these names came from. Or they came from the â€œindieâ€ realm (like Tom Hall and John Romero), even before it was called â€œindie.â€ With tiny teams, no middleman, no external controlling influences, and the reality of ownership over their products, indie creators canâ€™t help but infuse their creations with their own voice and personality. They own it, warts and all. In that way, they are more like authors of a book.
And it means I can have favorite game-creators again. If you read this blog a lot (or note the list above, where I referred to the sometimes lone-wolf team names rather than their games), you know some of my favorites.