Thursday, January 14, 2010

The prima donna audience

heI'm writing this for people who might be in a similar position. I think the game writing industry is completely unnurturing - indeed its greedy, self centered and prima donnish. That includes most of the audience.

Sounds extreme? Okay, put somthing out there and see how people evaluate it. Check whether they look at it soley as in whether it satisfies them, or whether they look at whether there's something enjoyable for them AND to some degree they are also interested in the artist is expressing/doing what they want as well.

Indeed, see if you can find someone who is 90% self interest, but does give even 10% interest in what the artist wanted to do. In fact, see if you can find a 99% self interest and 1% interest in what the artist wanted to do.

No - generally you'll find people 100% self involved, self infatuated. Either it'll be some sense that it's all for them, or they'll have some sort of standard that MUST be met which they insist is a galactic standard but is really their own, so again completely self absorbed (here's a previous post on that). Essentially a bunch of mewling children.

Now if you've even got 1% interest in what the artist wanted to do, but otherwise you want to be pampered, well I'll note that you atleast give a nod toward what the other person wants, rather than just being a me, me, me. So if you think I'm being harsh, look at me - I'm saying even 1% is something good and this thread doesn't apply to you. And if you can't manage 1%, yes, your a selfish, mewling child. It does not make sense that other people are 100% making things for your benefit - if you have no sense of community and an interest, even at a minor level, in what someone else is trying to do, then your only interested in you, you, you. And you don't like or want to hear that, because it's not about you, you, you.

But this advice is for people who might think that when people go 'Oh, yeah, but your game needs some X' they want to nuture your own artistic direction, to some degree, as well.

They don't.

It's uncanny - they can full on want to support what their own muse wants, while not supporting someone elses (especially the person who'll actually be baking the bread, so to speak).

I'd label it a widespread failure at theory of mind, where basically people just can't form the theory that someone else has a muse as well. They just hear what their own muse says and that's it, that's all that matters to them.

So you get a sprawling crowd of prima donnas, all so blind to any other muse they think their own muse is not their own invention, but the actual standards of the world. Which is pretty much the model behind religion as well, but never mind.

What to do?

Well it depends if you've been trying to appeal to this crowd, either for it's own sake, or to try and earn a crust.

To engage this I need to think on this more - I'll try and formulate a post to come up shortly.


  1. *shrug*

    It's only common to religion and gaming inasmuch as people are common to both. Anything driven by people has a tendency to have a considerable amount of selfishness to it. (Politics, anyone?)

    The ability to consider the Other's Muse comes with practice. Too many people just practice ignoring it. It's not just gamers... though gamers are in a unique position. It's been posited before that games really only find full expression when the player takes part. Without a player, a game is just a collection of rules and art assets; potential, but little more.

    The trick is catering to the player to make a game possible, while still managing to express some artist intent. It's something designers have struggled with for a while now. One might even note that playwrights and storytellers have dealt with much the same thing for centuries.

  2. Hmmm, I'd say no, no catering. I'm sure I'm not a unique snowflake - there are others out there with a somewhat similar set of interests for me. I'll be using the internet channels, but not in an attempt to appeal and cater to some mass, self absorbed audience, but in case my signal hits a like mind.

    I mean, I've done alot of table top roleplay design study and catering there is terrible. In table top the only functional model is like a musical band - and in bands you don't have one guy catering to the others. They work together, presumably because they are somewhat likeminded (or in some respects are).

    Musical bands are both creators and their own audience to an extent.

    I'm not just interested in people who want to be 100% audience.

  3. *shrug* I'm not really disagreeing.

    I use "catering" as "listening to user interests and input". Not so much "yes, massah, whatever you sez, massah". (If that an offensive characterization, I'm not sorry about it. The allusions are intentional. Devs who are slaves to their customers naturally produce different sorts of products.)

    There's a notable difference between a game designed to be a mainstream bit of lowest common denominator pablum, designed by committee via focus groups, and an indie game crafted as a labor of love, perhaps not even intended as a commercial product.

    It's harder to get people to pay for Artistic Vision, and easier to sell them stuff they already want. (And marketing bridges the gap, but notably, it need not even care about integrity regarding the Vision nor the wants of the consumer, marketing only needs to make the deal, and likely, neither party will be completely satisfied in the end.)