What Happened at GAME_JAM?

What Happened at GAME_JAM?

Despite the potential for a lot of bad press, the GAME_Jam debacle seems to have closed out with a sufficiently happy ending.

Read Full Article

While GAME_JAM ended up being a pretty massive failure, there is hope! Last year Penny Arcade funded their own geek reality show searching for the next big webcomic artist, Strip Search.

It has the standard premise of people living in one house, with cameras listening in on conversations, but it showcased the talent of individual artists and the respect they give each others' craft. Better yet, it was hosted and camera'd by the much beloved LoadingReadyRun. If they want to give a GAME_JAM show a second try, someone should hook these guys up.

For those who haven't heard of it before or are too lazy to click a link, here's the first episode!

I had never head of GAME_Jam before this, but it was a very interesting article. I am glad to see the developers didn't fall for such low tactics, because given the tension that is had whenever sexism is mentioned in gaming, it would have been the latest controversy.

It's kind of saddening to see how desperate people are that they'd actively try and create it for the sake of publicity though. I am not keen on reality television in general for many of the reasons that you gave, so to see people try and do the same thing with gaming by stirring up unnecessary controversy is extremely irritating.

Although this is the sad state of things when it comes to modern media. It's all about getting the viewers/clicks at whatever the cost.

TiberiusEsuriens:
While GAME_JAM ended up being a pretty massive failure, there is hope! Last year Penny Arcade funded their own geek reality show searching for the next big webcomic artist, Strip Search.

I too loved strip search. It was honest, slightly awkward but felt like a celebration of creative people pulling together. Also The LLR guys had a hand in the media side of it. Everything even tangentially related the LLR is always full of integrity, humor and good old fashioned awesome. Long live Bionic Trousers :P

After reading one of the articles you mentioned, I'm kind of disappointed in this article. Half of it was your take on standard reality t.v. and the other page just skimmed the surface of ONE of the mistakes Game_Jam made. I guess that I was just expecting more from you based on how great your articles usually are.

OT: So much egg on Maker/Disney's face after this. First they can't even buy mediocre equipment for the Jam and then they try to shove Pepsi products down everyone's face. An all-around failure.

Legion:
I had never head of GAME_Jam before this, but it was a very interesting article. I am glad to see the developers didn't fall for such low tactics, because given the tension that is had whenever sexism is mentioned in gaming, it would have been the latest controversy.

It's kind of saddening to see how desperate people are that they'd actively try and create it for the sake of publicity though. I am not keen on reality television in general for many of the reasons that you gave, so to see people try and do the same thing with gaming by stirring up unnecessary controversy is extremely irritating.

Although this is the sad state of things when it comes to modern media. It's all about getting the viewers/clicks at whatever the cost.

TotalBiscuit and the entire cast of the Co-Optional Podcast were asked to Host the Project and also have a lot of interesting things to say about the whole thing, and the absolutely DISGUSTING level of reality TV horse-shit involved.

Great read Shamus.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NH5fgcrQsU8&list=PLFE010B0EEA9E5F06

I really dislike "reality" TV stuff like that and it is one of the reasons I don't watch TV because most channels seem to be plastered with that BS. I watched a few parts of Stripsearch but I still found it to be loaded with unnecessary crap. It wasn't nearly as bad as "normal" shows like this but it could have been so much more.
So me being against this kind of show I'm probably a bit biased on this, but who the hell thought giving the show the chosen format was a good idea? (except that Matti of course, who will now probably not have many more jobs)

Seriously, I'd expect the overlap between the "gamer" demographic and whatever demographic watches those shows to be rather small.
I read most of the articles about this when the whole thing happened and even the Polaris people on the Cooptional Podcast talked about this. Apparently it just got so bloated that it got out of control. But still, the format must have been planned that way, I doubt they really improvised the whole thing and let that one guy do what he wanted.

I actually find the thought of this show being aimed at gamers kind of insulting. It just shows how little the corporate sponsors and others ruining a once good idea actually understand the demographic they were aiming at (draw parallels from yesterday's Jimquisition).

I highly recommend for everyone to at least read Jared Rosen's article.
It's a bit long but it paints a pretty good picture of the whole mess.

Anyway, I think read somewhere that some of the developers are looking into doing their own game jam thing, so at least something good might come out of this.

Also what is a Dew Pack?

Grimh:
I highly recommend for everyone to at least read Jared Rosen's article.
It's a bit long but it paints a pretty good picture of the whole mess.

Also what is a Dew Pack?

I'll make you a LMGTFY link on dew packs if you'll tell me where to find Jared's article.

Uratoh:
-snip

It was the first one Shamus linked, I'm just telling people they really should read it because it's pretty good.

But here it is http://indiestatik.com/2014/03/31/most-expensive-game-jam/

Lesson: Do not attempt to game game designers.

Mythbusters isn't a reality show. I'm not sure why the author decided to shoehorn it into the category. It's a scripted show about experiments and blowing stuff up.

Does the author also call documentaries "reality shows"?

Not gonna lie, had I have been asked "the question", I would have promptly asked "Depends, have you stopped beating your wife yet?"

Yeah, I know he mentioned that in the article, but hey, it's the go-to example of this kind of question for a reason. :P

Anyways, excellent article. I was also impressed at how consistent and stonewall the teams were. It's a shame that GAME_JAM fell through, but hey... let that be a lesson.

I read the excellent Indie Statik write up and instantly i recognized the stench of 'traditional media'. I know we like to think that gaming has a problem with sexism and the like but actual makers of TV, 'creative content' and Hollywood films are on an entirely different level.

Matti Leshem come across like a horrible human being. His insult is really what doomed this whole thing beyond repair.

"The idea that these professionals, who stake their livelihoods on code and design, might be reduced to "pretty faces" and antiquated gender stereotypes, an idea perpetuated by the guy who was ostensibly in charge, was like hitting the biggest nerve in the history of nerves with a pneumatic drill. Adriel built shit that flies around in space. It's probably flying around in space right now."

Read Jared's article as well Zoe's and a few of the others. Very interesting stuff.

It beggars belief that such level of mismanagement could occur. It seems that people in the first production crew knew that Matti would not get on with the developers but let him go ahead and fuck things up and bully them anyway.

Fair play to the four who refused to continue.

Grimh:
It was the first one Shamus linked, I'm just telling people they really should read it because it's pretty good.

But here it is http://indiestatik.com/2014/03/31/most-expensive-game-jam/

Clearly, I am blind.

As promised: http://bit.ly/Rn3Rrh

Good on the devs for choosing integrity over... whatever crap they might have gotten had they gone through with it.

I once stated that reality shows would make us nostalgic for the era of soap operas, where the drama and backstabbing was entirely faked and scripted. (And the "arch-enemies" probably carpooled home...)

I'm glad the developers managed to hold out against the show's producers, but as for the people who tried to turn creative experts in their fields into stressed-out drama bait... Not getting the show they hoped for doesn't seem like enough. I want the cameras on them and the sickening thing they tried to do until they promise never to try it again or get shamed out of the industry.

If you have twenty-four hour access to interesting people for a long period of time and can't create something interesting out of the footage without dirty tricks, you're a hack. Hell, works like the comic American Splendor suggest that "regular, everyday folks"- whatever that might mean- tend to have interesting stories of their own.

Reality television needs to die.

Aardvaarkman:
Mythbusters isn't a reality show. I'm not sure why the author decided to shoehorn it into the category. It's a scripted show about experiments and blowing stuff up.

Does the author also call documentaries "reality shows"?

Yeah, that seemed like a really strange example to even bring up. Mythbusters may be "loosely scripted", but it's still scripted. It's just edited in a way that makes it less exploitative of drama and mistakes among the cast, which I guess is what the real point was in differentiating it from bad reality TV. But it's still comparing apples to oranges.

Avaholic03:

Aardvaarkman:
Mythbusters isn't a reality show. I'm not sure why the author decided to shoehorn it into the category. It's a scripted show about experiments and blowing stuff up.

Does the author also call documentaries "reality shows"?

Yeah, that seemed like a really strange example to even bring up. Mythbusters may be "loosely scripted", but it's still scripted. It's just edited in a way that makes it less exploitative of drama and mistakes among the cast, which I guess is what the real point was in differentiating it from bad reality TV. But it's still comparing apples to oranges.

It's certainly odd to describe it as "reality TV". But at least it contains reality. The cast do stuff and learn stuff and sees what happens. They don't know ahead of time which myths will be busted or not. There's capacity for physics, chemistry, and other components of reality to shred the expected outcome.

But yeah, documentary would be a better term.

How does anybody working in a marketing occupation forget the whole target audience thing? That Matti guy was in the wrong studio. Gamers want to see games, and if they're interested, how they're made. Not how there might be drama in a creative environment. Good thing some of those contracts weren't signed so at least a couple of the developers can speak up about their experience.

I agree completely, Seamus, except on one small point. It wasn't "the organizers" who created the fake tv-show tension, it was one person: Matti Lesham, a "brand consultant" who appointed himself Director. While it is true the reps from Polaris likely could have prevented the damage, they couldn't have had the foresight to know what the "secondary" production crew was up to, nor could they have anticipated his being... well, that.

...unless they had seen any movie about struggling artists ever, each inevitably having the same moral: "never, ever let 'creative consultants' have creative control", but I digress...

Maker/Polaris hired people to help them film and organize production. What they got was a usurper and saboteur, a man in charge who is only good at being in charge, and who didn't understand the project nor the product. They don't deserve to be off the hook, to be sure, but I believe they do deserve a bit more leniency.

Shamus, you contradict the article that you say is one of your only sources of information. How disappointing.

Meanwhile the other teams were asked, "Two of the other teams have women on them. Do you think they're at a disadvantage?" It's pretty clear the organizers wanted to work this angle - painting game developers as either sexist or preoccupied with gender - as a way to generate conflict. There's no winning move here.

Going by Rosen's article, the guy was never given much authority or encouragement to do this. In fact, he was instantly fired for it. While, yes, this kind of thing is very much a result of blatant incompetence by the organizers, there is no evidence to suggest the organizers actually wanted to aim for the sexism controversy to generate entertainment.

Other than that, I think you're giving these people too much credit. These people went to an event where they're basically expected to follow specific rules and present themselves in a specific manner for extra visibility. The guy you linked even says so himself:

I saw each compromise as a worthwhile trade-in to reach a wider audience both for the show itself, and for my in-development game SoundSelf.

There's nothing "indie" about this. This isn't the mentality of someone who purposefully distances himself from the big publisher/marketing machinery that is choking the industry. This is a clear statement of: "I'm in this for the popularity and money, and I'm willing to compromise for that".

If what he says is true, though, this Zoe person is even worse:

The same could not be said for my "GAME_JAM" competitor and real-life dear friend, Zoe Quinn. Zoe had stakes that were more real than the competition itself: As the only female team-leader and one of only two women in the whole competition, if she kicked ass she could be a beacon of strength to those who needed it. But if she failed, or if the show were edited to make her look like a failure, her performance would resonate with existing stereotypes at the root of those inequalities.

"I'm a strong, independent woman who believes in equality, and the best way to show that to the world is to ask these rich men to pretty please host me on their show to raise my popularity."

Honestly, this leaves me baffled. We have sexism and inequality built into our system, yes. But why on earth would you want to *cooperate* with that system, if you really want to change something? Are you really after equality? Or are you just after equality for men and women in particular, and problems such as the wealth gap, etc. are irrelevant to you?

Yes, I understand why you might consider their stance admirable given the circumstances. But any person with actual public integrity and idealism would never go to such an event in the first place. This is why, despite my disagreements with him, I can admire Richard Stallman: Most of the world doesn't give a damn about his ideals and ethics, but he still fights on, sticking true to what he believes to be right. If you want to talk about "admirable", please talk about people like him, personalities such as he could really use the extra publicity. ;)

Veylon:

Avaholic03:

Aardvaarkman:
Mythbusters isn't a reality show. I'm not sure why the author decided to shoehorn it into the category. It's a scripted show about experiments and blowing stuff up.

Does the author also call documentaries "reality shows"?

Yeah, that seemed like a really strange example to even bring up. Mythbusters may be "loosely scripted", but it's still scripted. It's just edited in a way that makes it less exploitative of drama and mistakes among the cast, which I guess is what the real point was in differentiating it from bad reality TV. But it's still comparing apples to oranges.

It's certainly odd to describe it as "reality TV". But at least it contains reality. The cast do stuff and learn stuff and sees what happens. They don't know ahead of time which myths will be busted or not. There's capacity for physics, chemistry, and other components of reality to shred the expected outcome.

But yeah, documentary would be a better term.

Mythbusters isn't a documentary. It's a show about blowing shit up. Very occasionally science gets done, but not if it gets in the way of blowing shit up. It's not really even edutainment any more, so I guess reality TV is the best description

I think you're kind of misrepresenting things in this article frankly. Jared Rosen's "Most Expensive Game Jam" article (which I had previously read a week or two ago) is much more detailed and even-handed.
It wasn't that Polaris/Maker were just trying to make cheap crap - it was the one really rotten egg that came in from outside via the sponsors that caused all the really major trouble. (silly contract issues aside, seeing as those were fixed fairly amicably)

It is a shame that these marketing groups do not know much about gamers than what they perceive on Xbox Live. Not everyone is misogynistic and not everyone drinks Mountain Dew.

How exactly did Mountain Dew become the drink of the gamer anyway?

compared to the quality these articles usually have this one is kinda meh, most of the content in this one can basically be replaced with link to indiestatik and a note to skip the first 3 or 4 paragraphs to get to the good stuff.

Tarfeather:

There's nothing "indie" about this. This isn't the mentality of someone who purposefully distances himself from the big publisher/marketing machinery that is choking the industry. This is a clear statement of: "I'm in this for the popularity and money, and I'm willing to compromise for that".

I'm not sure why you think indies aren't or shouldn't be in it for the money and popularity. That's exactly what they're there for. If they weren't they would release their games anonymously and for free.

It's simply marketing that makes you believe they are there for anything else.

SirBryghtside:
To be fair, a lot of these indie devs do release the vast majority of their games for free.

While that may be true of individual developers, it's usually not true of the indie game studios that employ those developers.

You could say the same thing about AAA development houses - as any AAA studio is likely to employ individual developers who have contributed to Open Source projects, or given away things for free.

SirBryghtside:
If you've heard of Zoe Quinn before, it's probably because of her game Depression Quest, the only source of revenue for which is donations. Adriel Wallick, the ex-satellite creator, has contributed to one paid-for game called Rock Band Blitz, but otherwise releases all her games for free.

But the indie studios definitely capitalize on those free projects, because many people see indie studios as inherently good, and AAA studios as inherently bad - and are therefore more likely to buy indie games based on that "cred" - so it's actually a clever business decision for those people to give things away.

I'm not saying that to dismiss them - I am also guilty of buying indie games I probably would not have unless it weren't for them being indie. But they are definitely engaging in business, and the studios aren't run for charity or ideology. But they do leverage ideological perceptions for profit.

I read the source article and the related ones that it linked to back when this all happened and commented here that I was happy to see the integrity of those game designers. I'm glad to see someone doing a write up as this sort of thing could use a little more publicity within the community at large.

That said, I'm very unhappy with this article by Shamus Young: the issue is muddied by a long diatribe against reality tv and it misrepresents several aspects of the event. The people running game jam did not want this: they were only at fault for not have strong leadership in the face of one asshole mountain dew rep. The original article pretty explicitly places the blame, and it seems to have been missed in its entirety in this write up. Also, the devs taking part were not doing so to gain publicity for their own projects: they wanted to broaden awareness of what it is to make games. I know this sort of thing usually happens with the game of telephone that is journalism, but considering most people won't read the source material I feel as if this article does a disservice to the entire controversy and all those involved.

Shame on Shamus and whichever editor gave the greenlight for posting this.

Aardvaarkman:

I'm not sure why you think indies aren't or shouldn't be in it for the money and popularity. That's exactly what they're there for. If they weren't they would release their games anonymously and for free.

It's simply marketing that makes you believe they are there for anything else.

Okay, yes I see your point, and I may have been a bit in the wrong with what I said there, due to a natural bias of my own(personally, I do create game content pseudonymously and for free on a regular basis, and my view of "game development" is rather focused on that aspect of things).

What I mean to say is basically this distinction: Do you make money to support your passion of game development, or do you develop games to cash in as much as possible? This obviously isn't a binary choice, but I'd definitely define "indie" as someone with a strong leaning toward the former. That is to say, as indie developer you'll probably want to pay your bills and food, but if you have as goal to earn as much money as a "professional" working for a triple A studio(which usually is much more than you need to pay basic living cost, even with a small family), and if you are willing to sacrifice part of your independence for that goal, then you probably are not an "indie developer".

Note that this isn't to say that indies mustn't get rich. It's just a sad obversation that the moment large amounts of cash get involved, as in the example of this article, people suddenly start sacrificing a lot of the original spirit and independence, at which point it's hard to call them "indie" anymore.

TiberiusEsuriens:
While GAME_JAM ended up being a pretty massive failure, there is hope! Last year Penny Arcade funded their own geek reality show searching for the next big webcomic artist, Strip Search.

It has the standard premise of people living in one house, with cameras listening in on conversations, but it showcased the talent of individual artists and the respect they give each others' craft. Better yet, it was hosted and camera'd by the much beloved LoadingReadyRun. If they want to give a GAME_JAM show a second try, someone should hook these guys up.

For those who haven't heard of it before or are too lazy to click a link, here's the first episode!

I'm glad someone mentioned Strip Search. Its the only reality show I can think of that didn't resort to fabricating drama. I can't even think of a point where any of the contestants had anything bad to say about any of the others.

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here