I’ve already talked about my feelings on Greenlight itself elsewhere. But there’s another issue that’s been unfolding across the twitterverse and blogosophere and interwebs in the days since Greenlight’s go-live. It’s starting to feel as if there are two indie communities* out there that share the same name but fundamentally different values. There’s an indie scene of commercially viable and comparably expensive-to-develop titles, and there’s an indie scene of smaller and more intimate games made by developers without the resources, credit, or cash flow of the other.
Whenever things are done in the name of the “indie scene,” both groups believe themselves to be the target audience. And, naturally, this leads to conflict as both groups have radically different expectations of what a game platform is or what it means to create meaningful works. It’s the debate that seems to crop up every year during the IGF nominee announcements – does IGF exist to celebrate the “best of breed” games that are likely to get or already have publishing contracts, or does it have an obligation to highlight smaller titles that won’t otherwise get attention? Greenlight seems to have provoked a similar debate in the indie community, and all of the usual lines are being drawn – only this time it’s tinged with issues of classism and the worth of a work, both because of the whole “$100″ issue and because the conflict is over generating sales rather than being featured in a contest.
I had some stuff to say about Steam’s new Greenlight service. Also, I tried a new video format to see if I could do rapid turnaround videos for current events and the like.
For further reading, I sincerely recommend Tom Bissell’s piece on Spec Ops:
Additionally, this piece comparing No Russian to what Spec Ops does is really great:
In which I try to say things, but end up saying very little at all. Also, my nose is all plugged from having a weeks-long head cold. Hopefully work will settle down and my illness will dissipate and I can return to a more productive schedule.
A few days ago, Keith Burgun posted an article on Gamasutra regarding a proposed ontology for games – which pretty much declared anything that wasn’t a competitive winstate-driven game to be a vaguely defined and quickly dismissed lump of “interactive systems.” In this view, The Sims and The Walking Dead are out there next to traffic patterns and vending machines; a vast unexplored section of his Venn Diagram that might well be called “systems that aren’t the games I like.” He also made the poor choice of declaring Anna Anthropy’s ongoing quest to democratize games as misguided. All of this has prompted a fair bit of discussion, and I figured I’d put my thoughts from earlier up here.