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Indie Elitism
by Sara Gross on 02/25/13 11:38:00 am   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

I caught this piece by Shay Pierce, and the title had me excited. Someone might be willing to take a look at the unwarranted snobbery I see slung around in the indie field. Instead, the tone immediately shifted to categorizing their taste archetypes. FFFFF!
 
This is not his fault. Writing a frank piece on indies being snubby douchetwats frankly doesn’t go over well. Months of watching social networks (and sound advice from friends) has led me to believe that it is better to keep your head down and your mouth shut. However, after the indie community’s reaction to the preview of Bungie’s Destiny game, I am absolutely ashamed to be called an indie.
 
FUCKING ASHAMED.
 
Seriously, indies! What the fuck is wrong with all of you?
 
Indies pound the idea of being more inclusive into skulls like redundant nails. They’ve accepted high-budget 3D games are as much games as choose-your-own-adventure books. So how is it that they abhor anything brought on by their older, AAA sibling? How is it that they can condemn the AAA industry one moment and buy a print of Guile’s silhouette the next? How can they hate on AAA so unabashedly and homage Legend of Zelda in their games and not see how full of shit they are? Don’t tell me it’s just Bungie - they do it for EVERYTHING!
 
I can understand if a person plays a game, and hops onto Twitter going “man, that was mediocre.” But if they haven’t played something - if they haven’t taken a look at it...how can people judge it so harshly?
 
Do you recall this “controversial” article on Gamasutra about Hotline Miami?
 
I watched the entire drama unfold in a few hours on Skype and G+. The indies were right, and I heartily agreed - how could he spout such nonsense opinions without ever having played the game? People jumped his case, discredited him. Perhaps I could applaud this at the time, except indies are doing the exact same thing now.
 
So what did indies say about Destiny when there was absolutely NO WAY they could have played it yet?
 
 
SO
 

 


FUCKING
 
 


WHAT?
 

 

Oh, wait...there was more...

 

WHO

 

FUCKING

CARES?
 

I’m not sure at what point indies achieved exempt status, but I’m surprised they’d forgotten their roots. Many of the indies I know grew up playing Legend of Zelda, Sonic, Doom, Half Life, Halo: Combat Evolved. They were raised on AAA titles and now make games of their own, dreams spurred on with the hope of making the next Metroid or Mario. Watching indies dismiss the very things that fueled their interests was...disheartening.

But it didn’t stop there. Indies, and people of influence, took to their social networks:


But there’s been general dislike of AAA titles amongst indies anyway:


Yes, every bone in my body says that Destiny will be about dudes shooting other dudes. But how is it wrong that we’ve seen it before? Retro City Rampage brings absolutely nothing new to the table, but I played tons of it on Steam and my Vita (which means I’ve bought something I’ve played before twice again). I love the shit out of it. I can’t see anything wrong with expanding on what we already know or what works. We have slimmer televisions after decades of trial and error. Why not better games that expand on elements with which we’re already familiar? If your strength is making a sci-fi shooter or a pixelated 8 bit puzzle platformer - more power to you!

And so what if they’re funded? Believe it or not, Legend of Zelda had special maps advertised in Apple Jacks cereal boxes in the ‘90s, Mario has his own gummy candies, and Sonic peddled Coke products at select theaters. There was a Pepsi machine in Maniac Mansion! So don’t feed me that huffy, holier-than-thou bullshit about Mountain Dew and Doritos.

I see no reason to vehemently snub the things that shaped gaming as we see them today. Why not embrace them - appreciate what they did for us? Some were pioneers once too. Before they made AAA titles, they made games in their parents’ basements, lived on pre-packaged garbage foods, and suffered obscene deadlines to help their creations see the light of day. They started somewhere too. AAA developers aren’t so different from us, indies.

They. Really. Aren’t. 


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Comments


Sven Bergstrom
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Seeing as I am being brought into a context here (which I feel is out of the context I was actually speaking but whatever), I might as well elaborate on what I meant by the statement I made.

Feel free to read on a very interesting experience a journalist had seeing destiny "up close" over here : http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/186801/Analysis_Bungie_and_Act
ivisions_reveal_of_Destiny.php

Particularly the "Hard Facts" section, statements such as "Virtually all representations of player characters and enemies shown to the press were in grey box environments and were not yet animated. "

So, "showing us destiny" at the reveal seemed amusing to me. The gameplay? I have no clue. Only vaguenesses to rely on.

I in fact enjoy a lot of AAA games, I play a heck of a lot of shooters, and all my comments made about destiny in particular were directed at their weird and confusing press releases just a little before the announcement at the PS4 event. Contradiction etc I find amusing.

Plus you know, jokes. It's the Internet, we joke around. Not everything is said with super sincerity.

If we aren't allowed to poke fun at anything "because we are indie", I don't want to be "indie" either.

Sven Bergstrom
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Plus as others note : well said. I agree with "don't be a dick about AAA games" , except for the poking fun thing. I still think that should be allowed. Plus many of the above tweets seem to be out of context.

The more I read this the more it makes me sad that most of what was quoted doesn't actually imply half of what is implied by the post itself :/

Paul Marzagalli
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Wonderfully stated, Sara. If I could attach the Citizen Kane clapping gif, I would. Thanks for putting this, and yourself, out there.

The issue is a convoluted one. Apropos of what Fuzzy wrote above, maybe the comments aren't independently bad. In today's social media age, though, they reach and are reinforced by thousands. The comments cascade on top of each other and form this snarky echo chamber that ends up becoming the buzz consensus. That's problematic, and I think the nature of Twitter feeds into those worst impulses. That could just be me telling you to get off my lawn, though.

I don't have any solutions to offer, other than to say Christian's (if I'm remembering correctly) attempts to present a just-the-facts analysis of both Destiny and the PS4 launch seem like steps in the right direction.

Simon Jensen
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IMHO it's a lot like watching Elvis get fat an play night after night in Vegas. We get disillusioned when our idols stop inspiring us and turn out to not be demigods.

It's much easier to deal with watching them flame out and be enshrined in the hazy recollection of perfection like Looking Glass or Curt Kobain, or even have an outside entity to blame like EA gobbling up and dismantling Origin and Westwood or Yoko breaking the Beatles.

That and we've grown up since we played Myst and Halo, and we wish for our games to have grown up along with us and it's disheartening when you realize they haven't.

Simon Roth
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I actually turned off twitter the night of the PS reveal. Seems like everyone felt they needed to have an opinion, yet few had an interesting formed opinion to give.

That said, most of the tweets above are just poking a bit of fun by the look of it.

Max Loy
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I also turned off twitter for that event (mostly). The sheer amount of off-the-cuff negativity makes it really hard to evaluate something on its own merits.

Alejandro Rodriguez
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What I find most remarkable about the sort of blind disdain for what could be considered fundamentally sound design concepts, is the pressure it puts on new/rookie/non-veteran game designers. Most of the people I know that invest their time learning a craft or trade start with the things they are most comfortable and familiar with. This will lead to derivative work. In coming to understand how and why those concepts work, innovation eventually (hopefully) emerges.

I worry that designers (myself included) will become so concerned about whether their concepts and products are avante-garde enough to stand up to spitballing from fellow indies that somehow consider themselves above derived work, refinished or re-imagined concepts, or outright cloning. I understand that the article is directed to AAA-bashing specifically, but if the AAAs we look to for a baseline are not permitted to iterate mechanics they've already proven to be successful at building, how can a rookie developer hope to dodge that kind of firestorm?

Sven Bergstrom
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Neat hashtag on the go cos of this : https://twitter.com/search?q=%23indieAAAConfessional

Jack Nilssen
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What's hilarious is how most of the pundits haven't made any games of note. So, it's just entertainment.

Besides, all Twitter is useful for is biting one-liners so it comes with the territory.

That said, Follow me @darkacrejack cuz I'm the King of Indies.

Devin Wilson
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...which pundits are you referring to? Many of the quoted tweets belong to people who have made some very impressive games.

Simon Windmill
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To elaborate on what I already tweeted..

I agree that there is a disproportionate amount of criticism aimed at AAA/mainstream/FPS/insert-your-favorite-term-here from indies and that this is disappointingly dismissive, I find it hard to argue that the games and the industry that are being made fun of here are anything more than formulaic blockbusters. I'm willing to give creators a pass when they mock shoot-dudes-in-the-face games even if they've made a shoot-dudes-in-the-face game themselves when they've *also* made a game where you want to be a car.

Also in the mitigating circumstances pile is the fact that communal snarking on press events has become somewhat of a sport, especially on Twitter, where subtle nuance is hard to get across. Much easier to toss out a glib comment and watch the RTs roll in. Childish? Sure, but it's easy to get sucked in. Groupthink is pretty dangerous on Twitter, and it can be really frustrating to have a dissenting opinion and know you're going to be drowned out.

So. Everybody, let's not be so dismissive! Let's remember that games are great! And that people have different tastes!

Craig Stern
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"So how is it that they abhor anything brought on by their older, AAA sibling? How is it that they can condemn the AAA industry one moment and buy a print of Guile’s silhouette the next? How can they hate on AAA so unabashedly and homage Legend of Zelda in their games and not see how full of shit they are?"

Um...because the indie scene is composed of disparate individuals with differing attitudes and tastes? Just a thought.

David Klingler
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I don't think it should be something to be ashamed of that some people in the indie development community are negative towards AAA titles. I look at a game for what it is, regardless of what company it's from, but I know not everyone does that. I can accept that even if I think it's bad. I don't think it paints a bad image on indie developers, though.

Zayne Black
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Okay, so, maybe it's just me and maybe I have a bad way of reading how people interact, but all I see is 'twitter snark', which I myself show off probably far too often. I won't disagree with you that a lot of people can be instantly negative about a lot of things, but I think MOST of the examples you've shown are made in jest. Light-hearted jabs.

I realise it's anecdotal evidence and that's of dubious legitimacy, but from all the people I've spoken to, and speak to on a regular basis, I can't say any of them has ever stated "I hate AAA games" and meant it. Maybe it's that sarcasm doesn't translate well on the internet, maybe it's that I'm talking to the wrong (or, I suppose, right) people, I dunno.

Certainly, it's not 'indie-wide', or something like that. I guess I'm saying I hope you manage to find a group of people to interact with who either aren't snarky about things or don't act in the way that I guess annoys you, because I'd very much like to think they exist.

Matthias Zarzecki
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Totally love this discussion :D

Devin Wilson
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Now, I know I've been discredited, but...

"How is it that they can condemn the AAA industry one moment and buy a print of Guile’s silhouette the next? How can they hate on AAA so unabashedly and homage Legend of Zelda in their games and not see how full of shit they are?"

What you've accomplished with these two questions is to establish this piece as enormously presumptive. I have almost no fondness for the Zelda franchise and I have no Street Fighter artwork in my home. I'm critical of the overwhelmingly consumeristic culture that games have engendered, so who are you actually talking to? It doesn't seem like me or anybody I know, so it sounds like a total straw man attack.


Furthermore, you don't need to spend 30 hours with a game to know you want nothing to do with it. Games call their users into being specific types of characters. Sometimes you're a hedgehog trying to free animals from strange, cybernetic prisons. Sometimes you're a space marine trying to survive an invasion of monsters from hell. Sometimes you're an NHL forward trying to score goals in Ottawa. Sometimes you're a vaguely human entity wandering around an alien-looking, musical island.

And sometimes you're an assassin who is presented with no interesting fictional motivation for your aggressive killing. Such was my appreciation of Hotline Miami. I don't need to want to paint rooms with pixels upon pixels of blood any more than somebody else needs to want to win a virtual Stanley Cup.

So don't be surprised when I applaud our colleagues' skepticism towards whatever new AAA shooter is coming down the pike. Some of us are tired of games whose primary mode of interaction is killing and shooting. Regardless of its ethical or aesthetic value, it's okay to just be bored of it.

"I can’t see anything wrong with expanding on what we already know or what works." Some of us aren't convinced that what we used to like (or perhaps never liked, as you fail to acknowledge the possibility of) is relevant to us anymore.

I really don't understand what you're trying to accomplish here. It seems like you just want people to shut up and buy slimmer TVs as they come out, regardless of if they want a new TV or any TV at all (to continue the metaphor). You're making the really bizarre claim that if we liked AAA games at any point in the past that we shouldn't respond honestly to AAA games in the present.

Many of us have grown up since we were infatuated with headshots, pwnage, and carbonated beverages. I've changed a lot since I went around playing Counter-Strike in LAN tournaments, drinking Bawls and eating pizza. I would dare say I've matured a lot since I wrote that piece on Hotline Miami (which I have awkward feelings about in retrospect). Why shouldn't we expect games to grow up with us? Or at least be able to comment on how these AAA games aren't made for us?

I make games because I can't count on other people to make the games that I want to exist. Don't try to bully me or anybody like me into feeling guilty about not pre-ordering Bungie's new game. It's not fair, and I don't see the value in it.

Michael Joseph
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What's with all the out of control swearing? I had to skip directly to the comments after the first few paragraphs.

Devin Wilson
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I think swearing angrily at your audience is what earns you 'Featured Post' distinction, but I can't be sure.

Frank Cifaldi
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No, the swearing angrily prevented this from being a "Featured Post" for an hour or two after I approved it, but there was so much discussion happening that we felt we'd be lax in our curating duties if we didn't expose this obviously hot topic to more people.

Rami Ismail
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Bravo, Mr. Cifaldi. Appreciated - sometimes some nicely controlled anger can go a long way to point out certain problems.

Amir Barak
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Hot topic this may be (and I really think it isn't tbh) but the excessive swearing is only serving to diminish the point by emphasizing a rather childish approach to conflict management. She's basically yelling abusively at "indies" to stop yelling abusively at "AAAs"...

Rami Ismail
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Somewhat related, I count a total of four swear words in 750 words. If that's excessive swearing, I'm not quite sure whether that's a problem on Sara's end or on your own end. Sure, I'd much prefer Gamasutra to remain mostly clear of cussing (because there are few things I hate more than senseless swearing or swearing for the sake of it), but in this case it serves a wonderful purpose as far as I'm concerned.

Michael Joseph
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Really? So we're counting now? Well you're off by 75%.

"snubby douchetwats"
"FUCKING ASHAMED"
"What the fuck is wrong with all of you?"
"and not see how full of shit they are?"
"SO FUCKING WHAT"
"WHO FUCKING CARES"
"I love the shit out of it."

fine. you made me count.

and there is swearing and there is swearing angrily.

Mike Kasprzak
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Hey anyone wanna go play some games?

Matt Robb
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This happens with everything. Look at Indie music vs Pop music. The establishment becomes what it is because it was "cool" at some point. People come along who are tired of the establishment for whatever reason and do something "independent". Some fraction of those people produce something interesting enough to become the new "cool". A flock of poseurs show up and attach themselves to the new cool and proceed to dis on everything that came before. Eventually the new cool gets assimilated and the cycle repeats.

The key to all this is simple. Ignore the poseurs. They're loud, annoying, and pretentious as hell. Like what you like, don't worry about what it's cool to like.

Michael Joseph
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What you're saying doesn't make any logical sense.

Poseurs are by definition a collection of Johnny-come-latelys who attach themselves to the OLD thing after perhaps certain businesses have embraced & extended or co-opted (or whatever you wish to call it) the formerly new thing so that it resembles the original superficially, but not in spirit.

And how much of todays Pop music do you think you will care to listen to on an "oldies" station 40, 50 or 60 years from now? But the original cool things remain cool.

Frankly I know you know the difference between music that has soul and music that is manufactured.

Amir Barak
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I'm actually confused about this comment now, I read it that the AAA/Publishers are the poseurs trying to stay on top of the new wave of 'cool' invented by indies (back when Id, Epic, etc. were small) and are just trying to recycle the same old garbage (like the next Medal of Space Duty)...

Matt Robb
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@Michael, with the Internet, the poseurs are typically ahead of the corporations these days. They still latch onto the "cool" thing and claim it as their own even though they generally don't "get it", as you said.

Say what you will, but a lot more of today's Pop music is going to around in fifty years than what they call Indie these days. Most of what you hear on oldies stations now was the pop music of the appropriate decades. Of course, the truly memorable works are those breakout hits that have the real quality.

@Amir, AAA/Publishers aren't the poseurs. The big names are just going with what has made money in the past. The poseurs are the players and developers who latch onto products and movements they don't really understand and militantly defend them as "cool" and everything else is crap. It's a manifestation of the drive to belong combined with an inferiority complex.

hanno hinkelbein
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it translates to music business in terms of underground slapping the cool label on themselves but in the end it turns out to be just another business model. and one that promotes bigotry too because on the surface it's all about being different and innovative but on the inside it becomes all about egos and money as well. i've been there and not surprised the indie business is running the same gutter as underground music in that respect.

it's the concept of establishment vs rebellion, etc - has the same mechanics and it's nothing surprising really. kindof how life and evolution work in general...

Nicholas Boterf
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You mistake "snark" for "backlash" and "elitism." And you include some otherwise reasonable tweets (like Blow's call to see what the game itself offers) as examples of elitism.

There is plenty of elitism to be found in the indie scene. The problem is, you are creating it when I am not sure it is there.

Michael DeFazio
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dear indies,

lets spend our time and energies PROMOTING :
new indie ideas, innovations, games, influences, our stories

...rather than BADMOUTHING:
someone else's tastes, ideas, games...

we don't need to alienate people because they work on or enjoy things that are popular...

...and can't we show other artisans in our same field a little respect (even though they work on a "popular" product)?

Michael Joseph
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I don't think it's an issue of badmouthing so much as it is an issue of persuading. I mean, it's perfectly valid to explain to folks why they feel a certain way about things. And it can be effective at least in some modest way if the arguments make sense. Badmouthing just implies that their feelings are not based on anything other than personal aesthetics.

Michael DeFazio
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@Michael Joseph

i cringed a little when Jon Blow was at the PS4 announcement and started off with an "off the cuff" comment about following "all these explosions"...

it's like some compulsion for he and Dave Cage where they can't seem to just present and promote their product without having something subsequently snide to say about someone else's.

can we just stop with the smug?

Shay Pierce
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I'm not sure how the title "Game Designers and the Four Tribes of Artists" left you expecting that I was about to take the piss out of indies, and disappointed you when I instead talked about game designers and the four tribes of artists...!

So. Aren't you essentially annoyed because "indies" are expressing their opinions in an aggressive and dismissive way, basing their opinions on a superficial, broad-brushing view of a game and ignoring its nuances?

...And isn't this article you expressing that sentiment in an aggressive and dismissive way, basing your opinion on a pretty superficial, broad-brushing reading of tweets?

(For one, I saw Phil T. wondering why his tweets are even in there - they aren't meant ironically, he was legitimately interested by Destiny!)

I share your frustration with opinionated indie snobbery, but I think it's worth examining whether your response might actually be in the same tone that you yourself were objecting to.

Perhaps dismissive broad-brushing is just part of indie DNA. :) Personally I'd encourage all indies to try to leave a conversation more "constructive" than they found it, as a general rule; but TIGsource comments and the like give me little hope of that.

(BTW Sara, I love your art!)

Craig Stern
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I was kinda wondering that, too; Phil is a big 'ole Bungie fanboy. :)

So am I, actually: but I hail back to the Myth days. I'd rather they went back to making those rather than FPSes, just because we're swimming in FPSes and not in games like Myth. *shrug* To each his own.

Randall Stevens
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I think the kind of article that she was expecting was like the ones commonly titled something like "types of gamers" where the author makes a series of derogatory categories to describe the group in question.

Kim Delicious
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You quoted me, but what the fuck is an indie?

Andrew Vanden Bossche
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Though I sincerely apologize if any of the jokes on twitter dot com made by me or my colleagues have inadvertently caused the fine employees of Bungie to spiral into a sinking depression that will then threaten to consume the entire games industry, I can only express my disappointment at the author of this article for not including any of my high quality tweets in this article, despite the further risks viewing them may cause to AAA development.

Jeremy Reaban
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The especially ironic thing is that the quality of the average "indie" is somewhere between the average quality of the 2600 shovelware that caused the first video game crash and those games in magazines you'd type into your personal computer.

There are some gems of course, but indie game is one of those things were Sturgeon's Law understates things. And of course, adds a thick layer of pretension to it.

Michael Joseph
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It's not saying much because there are alot more indie titles than AAA titles.

Nobody is going to argue that production values of non indie games are better, but if that is the key component of "quality" it doesn't seem like something to be especially proud of.

Kevin Fishburne
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Reading this, and all the comments, brought to light something I noticed recently that may be relevant to why many indies are so dismissive of the establishment.

I talk shit...a lot. I don't think about the faces of those at a AAA studio responsible for the game, or whether they'd even read my comment. I don't consider that they could be very much like me with the exception of choosing to work for "The Man" in an office instead of starving out of their basement. I've come to realize that this is a mistake.

Previous to this epiphany I'd noticed an industry trend, first with G4's coverage and then with everything on the web: in large the industry is very respectful to itself. You don't often hear that someone at Blizzard just publicly lambasted an NCsoft title. Adam Sessler might have been interviewing a developer at a trade show about the shittiest game ever made, yet he is professional and optimistic. There seems to be an unwritten rule that industry personnel not throw barbs publicly.

I'm all for freedom of speech and have plenty of loathing for a lot of the games being produced these days, but I do think if there's anything indies can learn from the AAA studios and publishers it's civility. We could end up in the same room with these people, sharing drinks and perhaps even working on a project together, so remember that.

Michael Joseph
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I think indie voices have been healthy and helpfull.

Civility doesn't require 0 criticism. It just requires sincerity and reasonable argument and not irrational hostility.

There's alot of reasons why AAA devs don't criticize each other...

Matthew Howe
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I love shooting guys. I think I got started on it at 6 years old, with Doom. It's a gaming staple. Halo was great - if Nintendo can re-release Zelda over and over, along with all it's other titles, why can't Bungie remake Halo? I warrant that games with less explicit violence, or more of a child-friendly orientation are more copasetic for indies - like Zelda - just as a matter of bias. To hell with that. I love shooting guys.

Kevin Fishburne
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I know what you mean. I love stabbing guys. Hahahaaaa...choke. Ahem.

We need a new genre: FPK or First Person Knifer.

Jean-Paul LeBreton
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Haha, cool, I got called out!

The context for that twitter post is that I wasn't actually bagging on any specific game. I was just responding to Anna Anthropy posting some old alien creature artwork from the Starflight 2 manual, and remembering how much I loved that old game. Really it was "advocating for something I'd like to see more of", which is always what I try to do when I get grumpy, and sometimes fail at.

Some context: I worked on AAA games for several years, including the first two Bioshock games. Now I'm at Double Fine making smaller games, that people may or may not be considered indie but are probably not considered AAA. Viewpoints expressed are my own, blah blah.

I have a few comments in the twitter thread that inspired Shay's post that spell out my position on this matter a bit more:

https://twitter.com/Josh_Hamrick/status/303560674494275584

One big thing I think sets indies off about AAA games is a perception that AAA games are punching beneath their weight, artistically, despite being so overwhelmingly visible, and when visibility is so zero-sum. For a few months, almost every bus in San Francisco had the thoroughly bro-pleasing image of Assassin's Creed guy raising a tomahawk to chop some dude, reminding us all that the public face of videogames is still Guy Who Kills Everyone (joined perhaps in recent years by the pastel-colored Games-As-Drugs future advanced by big social game companies).

That is personally very displeasing to me, because I know how many fine games there are out there - some of which you link above - that suggest more interesting frontiers for our medium. But because of their marketing reach, the big companies get to control that message, and I strongly feel that this does real harm to the future of games: who gets interested in games, who decides to try making games, and how games get discussed in general culture. There are very talented people who deserve to have a louder voice in this discussion.

CliffyB called it "small dog syndrome", which I think is a very ugly, not-so-subtly insecure way to put it. If I were still a AAA dev and speaking in their defense, I would feel really bad about sniping back at people who have so much less power in the overall situation. Acknowledging ambient power dynamics is really important in discussions like this.

The truth is, a huge percentage of the indies I know used to be AAA devs. Their frustrations with the big-budget world are mine - we lived through it. Indie is certainly not some promised land, it has plenty of hand-wringing of its own to do. But I think the people with less power in any given discussion are always worth listening to first, and in this case, frothing ad hominem aside, they are speaking to some deeply troubling developments that games will be better for having confronted honestly... especially given that the culture of secrecy and silencing surrounding AAA game PR is so opposed to that.

PS. Consider editing this post for words like "douchetwats"... you could probably be equally scathing but less pottymouthed and get your point across better. There /is/ a kernel of a good message here. I understand why you are upset.

Sven Bergstrom
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See, context is an amazing thing. Thanks for including your background!

I am kinda curious if we can get ALL the tweeters called out to comment, how many were actually "hating" on AAA at all.

Ara Shirinian
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I have my own values just like anybody else here, but I don't understand why any of your exposition makes or should make you or anyone ashamed or upset. Social media is just people speaking extemporaneously and, it can easily become too big a leap to attempt to understand it on any other level of seriousness.

Just because there exist lauded examples of empty-looking indie games doesn't make an indie's complaint about a AAA game looking empty invalid. Just because there exist graphic dudes killing each other with guns in indie games doesn't make complaining about another game for that invalid all by itself either.

This guy is just sick of empty looking games and that guy is just sick of dude gun games and they're just expressing that, it doesn't make them elitist whether they are indies or just gamers or whatever. They are not writing manifestos, they're just being open about how they are feeling at the moment. They aren't criticising the game Destiny per se but the values expressed by it.

Do we want to quash that, because it could be taken as elitist, or even hypocritical? I don't get either sense from those tweets and I wouldn't want to quash it even if I did.

Nick Quackenbush
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I will respond to this with an anecdote.

I use twitter 100% for videogame discussion and topics. I follow hundreds of developers and companies that aren't out to purely market their games. I follow only those that provide meaningful discussion to the place many of us call home.

With that said, I NEVER hear a AAA developer or company speak poorly of the indie community. I only see support, admiration, and respect.

However, I CONSTANTLY hear indie developers shit talking AAA games and developers and being childish in their direction. I completely understand why Sara here is telling people to get off their high horses, because it seems many indies are. I have literally unfollowed DOZENS of indies in the short time I have been on twitter because of this constant childish complaint in the AAA direction. It is annoying and nonconstructive.

At the end of the day, we all are making games because we love games. We share a common goal of producing something that is entertaining to some people, be it a niche group, or be it a wide audience. All games and developers command the same respect until proven otherwise.

I suggest thinking about your tweets next time you load the barrels and point it at AAA's, because sooner then later you will be shooting yourself in the foot.

Nick Quackenbush
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@Jay
I agree that disdain for a long standing system can produce great results. But I mostly see blind hate for AAA games based on little or no evidence or a generalized collection of evidence. That is counterproductive to any cause, and is childish.

I am all for differentiating opinions, as that is what makes us great, but without proper direction, negative opinions can do more harm then good.

Robert Fearon
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Well, y'know the problem with anecdotes...

I've heard many a studio guy come out with variations on the indie as amateur, cluttering up games. Indie as person who hates AAA or studio devs because "we make money" or similar and let's not get into that whole "separate the indies into indie indie and capital I" indie thing.

Now, the thing is - I find THAT pretty damn insulting too. But here's the thing. The devs that believe that (there's a good recent blog post by Billy over at Ruffian about how he -used- to believe that, go read!) do not represent the entire thought processes of a segment of our culture. It is the opinion of individuals and individuals hold opinions you may or may not agree with.

Sure, call out these opinions - especially if they're harmful - just don't extrapolate this into some sort of "AAA dev" thing or an "indie dev" thing because whilst there may be threads common to the complaints of both, snark is truly not limited to one side. It's better to stop and examine the complaints and see if and where there is meaning and reason to them rather than doing the Mars Attacks and hoping we'll all just get along. Diversity and conflict in how we create, liking and disliking things are how we define our tastes, how we find our directions.

(It's also a bit of an unfair call because even if a lot of AAA devs hold bizarre opinions you disagree with, being seen as representatives of their respective companies and with a trigger happy press just waiting for something to fill the morning news with "STAFFER AT XCOMPANY SAYS BAD THING ABOUT DOGS", they're not going to say it because they want to go to work tomorrow. I believe most people don't care either way rather than a conspiracy of silence in case that's not clear, it's just worth pointing out the respective costs of voicing an opinion. One side is vastly more able to speak their mind freely.)

Whilst people are taking the values they use to fire potshots across the bow and using them to push themselves, to propel their work forwards, it is constructive, it is healthy. It is, perhaps, not what you want to read or hear but insisting that people play nice, be quiet and be compliant to the ideals you hold will ultimately get us nowhere.

And to be fair, if you just see blind hatred or generalised rubbish then perhaps you need to listen harder to what people are saying. I fear it's you that's not listening rather than indie devs rampaging all over AAA games without rhyme nor reason. As evidenced by the comments here about the tweets in the article, the points -are- often deeper and more nuanced and part of a larger, more complicated view of videogames. As addressed up thread, that there's a number of indies making these comments who've worked AAA previous, it's not a simple matter of childish name calling or words without substance too.

Carlo Delallana
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Well, can we, as Inides and AAA developers at least agree on one thing....real money gambling is probably the worst thing to happen to games in decades.

Sven Bergstrom
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I will just drop this here, as I feel it continues this discussion a bit :
http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/EMcNeill/20130226/187348/Heading_O
ff_the_Indie_Backlash.php

Dave Ingram
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With respect, Indie developers are not a small, elite group of silicon valley socialites..... Indie devs are millions (?) of people spread around the world with a vast array of opinions and experiences. The Twitter posts you highlighted are from a tiny group of Indie "celebs," but does that mean that their opinion represents all of us? I'm a published Indie developer and I'm really excited for Destiny. Does that mean I'm fictitious?

Joseph Elliott
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Only two of your twitter examples actually cite disdain for AAA games. The rest are directed at banality that exists in many AAA and indie games. Nobody claimed that indie games are immune to the disdain you cited toward AAA titles. If the hypocrisy you're railing against exists, you certainly haven't found it.

For example, it's possible to dislike both Bungie games and Hotline Miami for being overly violent experiences (I quite enjoy both, although I tend to skip every other Halo game). You cited Matthias Zarzecki complaining about guns and violence (looked like a snarky joke to me), then attempted to show his hypocrisy by pointing out a popular indie title that shares those traits. But you didn't cite him praising Hotline Miami, and you didn't show any of his own games that are hyper violent, gun toting shooters (so far as I can tell, there aren't any). That's a disingenuous and irresponsible thing to do.

This is an inflammatory and offensive article.

Bradley Johnson
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Most humans in the video gaming world have it pretty easy. We don't have to worry about being eaten by animals or freezing on the streets at night. We have it so easy that we tend to critique minute details, such as what should or shouldn't be in a video game. They're video games, as in, it's something that's meant to be played and enjoyed. If you don't like something just ignore it and spend time talking about things you do like. The world would be a much more pleasant place if we put a positive spin on it.

Bradley Johnson
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[removed double post]

Remy Trolong
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It sounds like "hipster" indie. Is "indie" the new "hipster" in video game developpement? Arguing the mainstream?

AAA Games are driven by money, that's why they're so repetitive in their content, but the amazing people working on them do their best to fit the box their investors give them.

As indies, we are free. We have the chance to create what we want, at the cost of sweat, sleep and sometimes blood, but we love it. I'm new on the indie scene, but I don't think all indies say bad things about AAA games. Sure we would love to have the same amount of money for making games, but freedom has a cost.

I agree in this article about the "easy and not constructive criticism", but it's more about the "Twitter-effect" and how it is easy to say bad things in 140 characters :)

Like Bruce Lee said : " A quick temper will make a fool of you soon enough" !

Benjamin Sipe
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Life is about choice. You can't have indie games without AAA counterparts. Just like there is no love without hate, no good without bad and everything on the internet can't be taken out of context because we live in a world where you can try to express a complex thought/opinion in 140 characters and be completely misunderstood.

Too early to tell on Destiny, but I'd like to give it a chance... because I love games, but haters gonna hate.

Ofer Rubinstein
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I like shooting stuff, it's fun.
There are no more deep\artistic indie games than there are deep\artistic AAA games.
I hate playing an FPS with a game pad, I feel limited by the controller.
However, this guy at work hates playing an FPS or any game with a mouse and keyboard and prefer using a game pad.
So which is the inferior controller to play an FPS with?
Just because you don't enjoy AAA games it doesn't mean they are inferior. It just means you can't enjoy modern games. Just like my grandma can't use a smart phone.

It's not the games, it's YOU!

Joseph Elliott
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"Just because you don't enjoy AAA games it doesn't mean they are inferior. It just means you can't enjoy modern games."

You're implying that indie games aren't and can't be modern, and that couldn't be further from the truth. Although I agree, the AAA/indie thing is just apples and oranges. I happen to like both.

John Hopkins
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I just signed up to post this comment, as I think it's important to understand some things about the author of this article to possibly understand some of the motivations behind it. Sara Gross literally came out of nowhere a little over a year ago and has contributed almost nothing of value to the indie community, yet she has the audacity to call herself an indie. Sara moved up the ranks to be Twitter buddies with some of the more recognized indies by kissing their asses... and it worked! Through her sycophantic behaviors, she was able to ride the coattails of her more successful contemporaries with her amateur, mediocre-at-best illustrations and ploys for attention like the article you just read. Correct me if I'm wrong, as I stopped paying attention to her long ago, but what does her body of work include? I know she's done art for indie games by slightly bigger names, but none of which have been published.

Yes Sara, you SHOULD be ashamed to call yourself an indie, because you're not.

Graham Luke
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^ Nice bro. Penis in your cheerios.

I'm independent. Indies that become snobs do so because they can't make sales. They childishly lash out. They can't win with market share so they make snide comments. It's that simple.


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