“Indie Devs are People Too!”

A little more than a month ago, I wrote a largely throwaway Saturday post called “Indie Devs Are Kind of Assholes” in which I criticized Falco Girgis for his response to an internet troll on Kotaku. Specifically, he wrote this (emphasis added):

You know, half of what you said was actually fairly useful, but then the other half went into opinionated, biased, tangential bullshit, and you lost me entirely. Bump mapping? Have you LOOKED at our Kickstarter? Our sprites are CLEARLY bump mapped, and they’re also specularly highlighted. There’s even a section clearly describing that. Our later screenshots are also all billboarded and are entirely aligned to camera-space. Your divine wisdom would have been appreciated considerably more if you had refrained from being a total douche in the end… I was actually going to ask for your email and talk development with you… But instead I think I’ll just head on back to Kickstarter and watch the money roll in for this abomination of an indie RPG coming to a Dreamcast near you! Funny, considering the majority of the backers are coming for the Dreamcast, then OUYA is doubling our funds from $150k to $300k. ;)

My overall point was that the stuff I highlighted in red is him just being an asshole and is otherwise dumb to say in any context.

Well, somehow Falco found the post this past Friday and decided to defend himself in the comments, with Facebook backup. Which was interesting for a whole host of reasons, but I’m not going to encourage you to check his recent (public) timeline or anything.

The Team Falco consensus seems to basically be summed up by this:

We’re just people and will respond as human beings. If indie devs acted like you expect us to act the there would be a whole lot more examples of Phil Fish and to a lesser extent Notch.

In other words, these sort of responses are just people being people.

The problem is that you cease being “just people” the minute you become an entrepreneur publicly selling a product. Or take any job whatsoever. I do have a little sympathy for people like Notch after the fact, but that might simply be because I didn’t follow his public comments too closely; if he was anything like Phil Fish or Falco here, he deserved the shit he got up to and including his meltdown. Not that I think he’s exactly crying into his $1.8 billion right now.

I am not trying to set myself up as some sort of paragon of good behavior. Who knows how I would have reacted in a similar situation? Maybe exactly the same… or worse! But that is all besides the fact that, objectively, those were all monumentally dumb and utterly unnecessary things to say. For anyone, in any scenario. The anonymous hater was put in his/her place with facts within the first five sentences – everything that came after was just him being an asshole. Any sort of “he was under a lot of stress” apologetics not only highlights the underlying lack self-control (or crippling insecurity), it is also a blank check to internet trolls everywhere. “Maybe they were just stressed when they told you to die in a fire.”

No, we can criticize people behaving badly regardless of why they did it.

Walking away from this exchange and having read Notch’s farewell post, it’s pretty clear that one does not simply make videogames; when you pick up the developer mantle, you get all the baggage that comes attached. Is that fair? Maybe, maybe not. I’m certainly willing to admit that gamers seem significantly more likely to publicly air grievances than, say, Walmart shoppers or whatever. At the same time, this is also what you signed up to do, whether you knew it at the time or not. And now that you know, it’s up to you as to whether the literally infinite reservoir of internet malice is worth responding to every single time.

I recommend not doing so. And especially not in a manner indistinguishable from original source.

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Posted on October 6, 2014, in Commentary and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Yeeeeah, I’m not going to grace you or your little blog with any more free publicity anymore… Y’know, because I’m such an asshole. Have fun on your little crusade…

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    • Don’t worry, I won’t summon you anymore after this; I’m done with the overall topic. Unless there’s a Phil Fish scenario. Or if you wanted to give me a copy of your game to review. ;)

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  2. This is probably unfair on some level, but all this talk of awesome pressures that their chosen career piles upon indie game developers makes me roll my eyes very, very hard. To put it as delicately as I can, there are more emotionally-demanding vocations out there, which nonetheless require one to remain calm, rational and civil.

    But I suppose that’s the obverse of the glorious indie thing. Few checks and filters, not much in the way of oversight, an us-against-the-world echo chamber and probably way too much feeling invested in the outcome.

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  3. Well I can sympathize with anyone who makes an effort to create anything and then gets a bunch of random internet tards hating on it as their reward. I don’t know why exactly some people seem to have no other goal in life than to tear others down. I don’t know why game companies even maintain forums, for this reason.

    But by the same token, responding to it in kind is pretty much useless. At best no one will care, and at worst it’s just bad publicity. Eventually you have to decide whether you will kill yourself fighting the endless brigade of internet assholes or just let it go.

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  4. Huh. This is another instance that makes me feel like it’s not a good idea to have developers to PR and vice versa.

    But look at the bright side: you were obviously considered important enough to warrant repeated tirades!

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