The One Hundred Dollar Question

[When I originally wrote this, I was not fully aware of the way in which the term "privilege" was being used in the context of contemporary identity politics; people in the "scene" were using it, and I used it because I was trying to communicate. In retrospect I realize that was a massive error, as the term is used as a personal attack that you can't defend yourself against and has nothing to do with an economic analysis of society. I still think the main points of this critique apply, but if I could rewrite it, I would phrase it very differently now.]

The last two days have been most enlightening, in ways I had not anticipated.

It all began when Valve announced that Greenlight, the vote-based submission system for Steam, would now come with a $100 price tag for developers. The money wouldn’t go to Valve, but to a popular (with gamers) charity called Child’s Play; the point of the fee was not to enrich Valve, but to stop all the bogus and unprofessional submissions that were flooding the system.

A few developers said “$100 is a lot for some people.” Then all hell broke lose, and my understanding of the indie scene was permanently altered.

My first thought after I filled out the Greenlight submission form for The Sea Will Claim Everything and clicked “publish” was wait, there’s no approval queue? That struck me as very peculiar. This is the internet. Any submissions system is likely to be abused within seconds. It’s entirely normal for blogs to keep comments for moderator approval to make sure they’re legit. Why was Greenlight allowing any submission to go through?

It was also peculiar that Greenlight was being advertised on Steam without any mention of the word “indie”. It made the service sound more like GOG’s Request Games feature than like a replacement for Steam’s old submissions procedure. But here were all these other games by my indie colleagues, so clearly I wasn’t in the wrong place.

There was more that struck me as odd. Games could be downvoted as well as upvoted, which didn’t seem to serve any purpose except to create negativity. (Why would Valve care how many people didn’t want to buy something? That doesn’t answer the question of whether there is a market for said something.) And, well, the whole system itself was kind of scary. Would it really be possible for games to be discovered here?

Maybe it was silly to worry about all these issues. Maybe I was just tired. It was four in the morning, after all. I’d been so excited to finally be able to submit my game through this much-hyped system that I stayed up all night. I knew my chances weren’t huge, especially because TSWCE doesn’t really fit into recognizable categories very well, but with the amazing reviews it had gotten and the support of the people who loved it, this was worth a shot, right? It would almost certainly not get a million upvotes, but maybe it would get enough attention and support for Valve to be interested. They had picked some “weird” indie games before, after all. That games like The Dream Machine and Analogue: A Hate Story were on Steam gave me hope.

Predictably enough, Greenlight was soon full of absurd submissions. Some were joke submissions by trolls, some were submissions of mainstream games by people who thought this was a request-a-game service. Some were just fakes that existed for no good reason. And then there were tons of submissions that were not games, but just concepts for games. These, however, were considered legit; apparently Greenlight was taking inspiration from Kickstarter. Except this made absolutely no sense, because a nonexistent game getting Steam approval doesn’t benefit anyone. It’s still nonexistent.

For the people browsing for games to vote for, it was almost impossible to discover a new game. The list of games re-ordered itself at random as you went from page to page, so you kept seeing the same games over and over, while other games never appeared. There were no good sorting options. It was a mess. The only games that were getting massive numbers of views were the ones that were already hugely popular, i.e. Project Zomboid. The sort of games, that is, that wouldn’t really have needed Greenlight all that much in the first place.

Other developers were getting really nasty comments from adolescent (physically and/or mentally) users who either didn’t understand Greenlight or simply hated indie games for not being Call of Duty. Games weren’t being judged by Steam’s massive international audience – those folks are there to buy games, not trade insults. Games were being judged by a subset of users that was not necessarily representative.

I got relatively lucky – after a few unpleasant comments in the beginning, it was all very positive, even from people who had never heard of my work before. But comments aren’t votes. Last time I saw the statistics for my game, before Valve removed users’ ability to see them, they were at 44% positive. And, as with most games, 0% towards getting on Steam. No wonder – other games had more than ten times as many views, and they were at 2%.

It was becoming obvious that Valve hadn’t thought this through properly, a fact which surprised most of us in the indie scene. Valve is normally pretty good about this sort of thing; if nothing else, they tend to be very professional. But by allowing game ideas (of which everyone famously has one – or a million) and not moderating the submissions process directly, they’d demonstrated a surprising lack of knowledge about the world of indie game development.

Then came the announcement about the $100 fee.

I wasn’t angry at Valve. I thought and still think that it’s a massive mistake for everyone involved, and I am in no way comfortable with Steam’s monopoly on the games market, but I don’t think this behaviour by Valve was meant to be malicious. They didn’t think “ha, screw the poor!” That the fee goes to charity shows that this isn’t about greed. The methods are misguided, but the intent is fine. So I didn’t get angry at them, and I’m still not angry at them.

But I did get very, very angry.

I wish the discussion that followed could’ve been about what would be a better system of keeping out the nonsense. I wish we, the developers, could have gotten together and written a letter to Valve that would go something like this:

Dear Valve,

We appreciate your attempts to make the process of submitting to Steam a better one. Even though many of us wish that the selling of games worked a little differently, the truth is that Steam is a very important market for a lot of indies, and can make a huge difference in our lives. But we’re sorry to say that you’ve gone off in the wrong direction. The $100 fee does not cut out the nonsense (at least judging from our experience with other platforms), but it does exclude many of us indies who come from economic backgrounds that simply do not allow them to spend $100 on the mere possibility of being judged by a subset of the Steam community that is generally not very friendly to indie games.

Thus, to make it possible for the cooperation between indies and Steam to continue and to be as pleasant and efficient as possible, please implement the following measures:

  • Hold submissions in a moderation queue.
  • Do not allow game ideas – only actual projects.
  • Require each entry to have a functioning demo.
  • Add better sorting options.
  • Remove the downvote option.
  • Reword descriptions to clarify that Greenlight is about indie games.
  • If necessary, require a nominal fee. Instead of $100, just $5 or even $1 would be enough to deter most trolls. Even a very high fee will not deter those who are delusionally convinced that their game is perfect.
  • (various other suggestions by people with better ideas than myself)

In this way, those of us from non-privileged backgrounds will still be able to participate in the Greenlight process, while a large percentage of unserious submissions will be eliminated.

Regards,

The Indie Game Development Scene

Wouldn’t that have been nice? Wouldn’t it have been nice if it was obvious to all these people that $100 is a lot of money to some of us? I mean, sure, people aren’t always aware of the ways in which they are privileged, but surely independent developers of all people would get that some of us have very, very low budgets? Surely independent developers, who have chosen to work outside the traditional system, should be those who know best that those with the most money are not always the most deserving? Having had to balance budgets and figure out ways of making games without the resources of a corporation, shouldn’t it be easy for most game developers to imagine that others, with a worse starting situation than their own, could find it impossible to spend this much money on what is essentially a gamble?

No, apparently not.

I have never seen the division of society along lines of economic class show itself so suddenly and so clearly. You’d think things would be a little more complicated than that. It’s bizarre and depressing that they are not.

A disappointingly large number of developers and journalists could not even imagine that some people don’t have this amount of money. I found this genuinely shocking. It’s not that they hadn’t experienced it themselves, but that they could not even conceive of it. That’s a disconnection from reality so fundamental that it is quite frightening. Ever wonder why there aren’t more political games? This is why. Not only are the majority of developers (those who have a voice, anyway) white heterosexual middle-class males from the US or the UK, but a scary amount of them have absolutely no understanding of the existence of anything outside their own experience, and are in fact offended by the very suggestion that anything else exists.

It began with statements like “$100 isn’t that much.” Some even added examples, like having spent $100 at a bar recently – as perfect an illustration of privilege as I can imagine. Then people were saying “if your game can’t earn $100 on its own, you have bigger problems.” Finally it was “if you don’t have $100 to spend, you’re not a real game developer.”

The sheer blindness that can cause people to say these things is staggering. How do you even explain something so fundamental, so obvious?

Some of us are poor. Poor isn’t like when you spent $100 at a bar  last night and you decide to only spend $50 next time you go drinking. Poor isn’t when you can only afford to go to one convention this year instead of three. Poor isn’t when you can’t afford to get the newest iPad because you’ve been investing in your business. Poor is when you don’t know how you’ll pay the rent. Poor is when you stand in the supermarket trying not to have a nervous breakdown because all you can afford is the same shitty pasta you had yesterday and the day before. Poor is when you’ve got crushing debt because your parents never had the money to help you, because they worked their whole lives and got nothing for it.

Poor is when every cent you earn goes to buying you another day under a roof, not to a gamble disguised as an investment. Why don’t we have a hundred dollars from selling ten games? Because we need to live.

It is particularly offensive when this is seen as some kind of insufficient desire to struggle – or even as entitlement. We struggle more than you can imagine just to be here. That we have, despite our poverty, managed to make these games, is a fucking miracle. We started with less than nothing, and we have the entire system sitting on our backs. “Oh, do you think I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth?” comes the response. Yes. Yes you were. Compared to some of us, to many of us in fact. And it’s OK, everyone should live like you do, or even better. I don’t want you to feel guilty. But at least be aware of it. Don’t be the guy in the middle who keeps everyone else down so the elites can stay where they are. Or at least don’t be an asshole.

To some people, $100 is not a lot of money. To me and my wife (who works two jobs), it’s a week’s worth of food or more. To others, it’s a month’s wages. Do we have absolutely no understanding of the fact that the internet is a global phenomenon and so is indie game development? Even ignoring the fact that developing games requires a great deal of time and effort, platitudes like “why don’t you get a job to finance your game development” don’t help much in countries where there are no jobs, or jobs pay next to nothing. Hell, have you read the statistics on poverty in the United States? Do you think these people want to be poor? Do you think they deserve to be poor?

Maybe that’s the heart of the argument. People have so internalized the ideological myths of capitalism that they believe the poor deserve to be poor. If you don’t have $100, your game must suck, because if it didn’t, you’d already be rich (despite not having access to not only the biggest market, but also to a major source of legitimacy in the eyes of consumers and critics). More than that, you’re not even a game developer – like Calvinists or Social Darwinists, the entitled are certain that their entitlement means they are the chosen, superior few, and everyone else is doomed anyway.

Platitude followed upon platitude in the debate, in a way that sadly resembled every other similar debate about poverty and class. If you’re unemployed, why don’t you get a job? If your audience isn’t big enough, why don’t you get a bigger audience? If you don’t like being a janitor, why don’t you become a lawyer? Hilariously, some touted the possibility of loans as a solution – the history of capitalism repeating itself as farce.

 —

Anna Anthropy, one of the indie gaming scene’s stars, is no longer a real game developer. Amon26 isn’t a real game developer, either. As for my own The Sea Will Claim Everything (“a must-have”, “delightfully evocative”, “an instant classic”, “made me truly proud of what the medium can accomplish”), it is a bad game, because if I hadn’t submitted to Greenlight before the fee, it wouldn’t be on there. I don’t have $100 to invest. And I’m already in a much, much better situation than people in countries poorer and/or more exploited than Germany.

Do the people who say “you’re not a real game developer” know that poverty is a real thing? That the games they play are often made by people who are quite poor? That the indie scene they see as a pathway to riches was to a large degree created and shaped by people who didn’t have $100?

Forget Greenlight. Forget Valve. Valve is just a company that made a mistake. The question isn’t what Valve is doing, the question is what we are. Is this what indie games are now? A playground for privileged folks who want to pat themselves on the back for being chosen? A space that is not about challenging the mainstream by expanding what is possible (and popular) with games but about reinforcing the mainstream by creating a niche where only what is alternative in a safe and instantly profitable way is supported?

They used to say indie game developers weren’t real game developers. Now they’re saying poor indie game developers aren’t real indie game developers. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Is this how we will be judging not only games, but people from now on? Is the hundred dollar question the new criterion for who gets included? Because if it is, don’t put me on your list.

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282 Comments

  1. Jonas, I can only try to rephrase it because believe me (and if you don’t believe me, you’re only making the same assumption that you’re calling other people out on) I know the sort of victim blaming that you’re talking about, and this isn’t that.

    So let me be very clear. It’s not that it’s your responsibility to persuade them, it’s not that it’s your fault if they can’t get it, it’s that you’re the only one who is in a position to get them to engage. Who else is going to? Not me, because I do not have your experience to draw on. You can either throw your hands up in frustration and walk away, or you can try a different approach. Both are valid choices, because – like you say – you have no responsibility toward them. But having no responsibility to try isn’t the same thing as having a responsibility not to try.

    So all I am doing here is saying there is a genuine opportunity here to make the discussion more fruitful. Take it or leave it. I’ve been very clear in saying that you don’t owe anyone anything, and that it’s all about what you want out of this. But when you’re bold enough to accuse people you’ve never even spoken to of being ‘incapable of empathy, openness and compassion’ based on one thing they wrote, I suspect this is where it stops. Fair enough.

  2. What Martin does is not describing his view of the world, but the reality of the world. I don’t see how he his implying that the current state of affairs is preferable to alternatives. As a indie developer, you have to put up with certain restrictions which are dictated by economics. That is stating a fact.

    You have argued against single-issue group action in the past on the ground that it is the capitalist system as a whole that needs to be overthrown. You advocate revolution over reform. So you should be well aware that what Martin is saying is not so far from the truth, that indie development is a business, because it operates within a capitalist framework. Against, acknowledging that fact doesn’t mean that you have to like with it. You are free to try and change it.

    However, even fixing Greenlight to comply with your demands wouldn’t be more than a temporary reform inside the big capitalist machinery of game development.

  3. @Jonas: I’m not saying that all you can do is adapt to the mainstream. I’m merely pointing out the economic/mathematical realities, as JM has said.

    All product types have a fixed market. What people in that market like is often defined by a bell curve. As such your best chance for success is to target the middle, or the mainstream. That isn’t to say that niche markets can’t be successful, it’s where most indies make their way, but a niche still has to be large enough to support a product. If it isn’t big enough for you to at least break even on your costs (including your time cost) then you have a problem.

    Of course it’s even better if you can make a profit as then you can re-invest that into your company. Indeed a profitable main product (in my case contract work) can be invested into not very profitable projects (in my case the software I write). You may dislike the mainstream, but the mainstream is where the bulk of the money is. Your job, if you are running a business, is to get close enough to the mainstream to make money to keep the business going, while being far enough away from it to differentiate yourself. It’s a VERY hard thing to do and is why so many businesses fail.

  4. Lin

     /  September 9, 2012

    Dear Martin,

    I live in a world of human beings, life choices, art, beauty, variety and individuality and many many niches. It’s a big, beautiful, scary place. (One would have almost called it “indie”, at one point). I’ve been in your world of business models and charts, I fitted in, suffocated, packed my bags and left. Along the way I visited quite a number of different countries, met many different people and spent some time in an asylum for the crazy. That may give you an inkling about why you and I have a different understanding of realities. I know many exist. You don’t. I know the world isn’t an american/british suburb. You don’t.

    So yes, you were very clear in describing what people would do, were said people both able and interested to create a successful business and get to the bulk of the money. Unfortunately you fail to even grasp the possibility that some people don’t want that. I know right?! Holy shit! Who would dare have other priorities, other end goals than money!

    Maybe, and I’m gonna go out on a limb here, maybe some people just want to live their lives! You know like, have enough food to eat, have enough resources to permit them to be creative, offer to the society, or any number of wildly inappropriate goals other than becoming rich!

    Anyway, now you have enough information about me to dismiss me as crazy. In fact, I suggest you go back to rearranging the numbers in your business model, which clearly in your universe is the only way for humans to find happiness. Where I come from, the market isn’t the end all of the creative process. I am almost hoping you never visit.

    Again, please do remember it’s just the fever talking, don’t feel forced to bend your mind around what I’m saying, and thank you very much for your wishes.

  5. Who the hell said anything about business models and charts and becoming stupidly rich. I’m talking about fundamental economics and fundamental mathematics. These things apply in big business, in small business, in the developed world and in the developing world.

    Whether you want to become stupidly rich (which I agree is not exactly a very good goal in life) or just want to make enough money to pay the bills, put food on the table and be able to continue doing a job you love without constantly worrying about it you have to abide by the exact same rules. It is a fact, not only of human nature, but of nature in general, that most systems will tend towards a certain average point (or occasionally points). This means that the easiest way to make money is to go to where the money is most plentiful.

    You are likely doing this already by having your games localised in English and maybe some other European or Asian languages. You aren’t equally localising in every language on Earth, you are focusing on those which are most spoken, which gives you the best chance of success. You are going for mainstream languages.

    You are free to ignore these facts, but if you do then you have a hobby, not a business. If you have a business of any sort, be it selling games or selling produce from your small farm, you need to know about them and understand them. It’s just basic mathematics and it underpins the universe we live in.

  6. Lin

     /  September 9, 2012

    Sorry for the addendum, but I really don’t like making this into a personal duel, in fact, I’m almost sorry I couldn’t hold back. Almost. Blame the sickness (how useful).

    So let’s try to bring this around to the original question if at all possible, and imho, to the heart of Jonas’ post: What happens to the indie gaming community when it stops being outside the mainstream and refuses to accept that someone else might be?

    I was under the impression that inherent within the indie spirit was some amount for support for the creative talents that for any variety of reasons didn’t find (or even want) access to the mainstream. A way to push to the surface talented people who operated from a place of disadvantage or within a niche. A loose array of creative people supporting each other in their efforts to bring food to the table without sacrificing their vision. If that theoretical community ever existed, then putting someone from within it down to even dare voice the FACT that money poses a barrier for some people, goes against its very grain. Something is very wrong somewhere, when we are so engulfed by the mainstream that we start disbelieving disadvantaged people exist.

    Valve is a business. It holds no responsibility towards anyone. But if such a thing as an indie gaming community is still around, then that community could put some effort forward. For example to suggest other ideas that Valve may or may not take on board to improve its model of choosing. Or to offer advice, suggestions or at least /understanding/ towards its members that are forced out of yet another venue because of being exactly what they are: Indie. Non prividged. Niche. Poor. Any combination of the above.

    Instead: 5 pages of comments later we argue whether one is or isn’t a game designer when they can’t afford 100$. And that’s just a waste of bandwidth.

  7. I agree with pretty much your entire addendum. I think the issue here (like with most arguments) is an issue of semantics. I don’t think anyone is arguing that $100 is a lot of money for some people. Hell, even those who can afford it wouldn’t write it off as insignificant.

    I think the issue that of whether one is or is not a game designer based on their ability to afford $100 is a misdirection, at least in my argument (others may indeed be saying that). It’s not a case of game designer or not but of “business” or “hobby”. If you want to do this full time you have to treat it as a business. This doesn’t mean you need to eek out every last bit of profit, it just means you need to think about making enough money to continue funding your endeavours (event artists try to sell work in order to fund producing more art). If you are treating it that way and succeeding at it, then $100 isn’t much of an issue, nor a barrier to entry, at least not compared to other costs and challenges in running a business.

    If it is a hobby (and don’t think I equate part time to being a hobby, you can treat it as a business as well, it’s the mindset. I just feel you can’t do it full time and treat it as a hobby, unless you’re VERY rich already) then $100 can seem a lot, but when money is tight hobbies often get put on hold, or you save up in order to afford to continue your hobby. I know this all too well in recent months given I had practically no money available to me due to various circumstances.

  8. AAncient

     /  September 9, 2012

    The issue of whether or not people who have money “are game designers” or not is a straw man. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems that the author of this piece seems to be frustrated that a community that he considered himself part of has not lived up to his ideals, or does not share as much of his worldview as he once believed.

    Frankly, this is an epiphany that I’m surprised the author hasn’t already experienced! The indie “scene” is just a bunch of people. Some of them are businessmen, some of them are kids, some of them are just passing through, some of them make propaganda, some of them make addiction machines, and so on. It’s naive to believe in “scenes”, we’ve seen this over and over again in the history of art, from the preposterous implosion and disgrace of punk rock to the disgusting spectacle of the modern conceptual art world.

    I sympathize with the author’s frustration, however.

  9. Frankly, this is an epiphany that I’m surprised the author hasn’t already experienced! The indie “scene” is just a bunch of people. Some of them are businessmen, some of them are kids, some of them are just passing through, some of them make propaganda, some of them make addiction machines, and so on. It’s naive to believe in “scenes”, we’ve seen this over and over again in the history of art, from the preposterous implosion and disgrace of punk rock to the disgusting spectacle of the modern conceptual art world.

    You’re quite right, and in theory I was always aware of this. But things change when you’re part of something, when you get to know the people. And for a while, even if only in parts, there was an infectious enthusiasm and a desire to be inclusive. That’s why we could have a world where someone like Auntie Pixelante is a something of a star, and we get books like Rise of the Videogame Zinesters.

    But you’re right. It’s basically the same mechanics as with rock music, punk, etc. It’s how things work within capitalism. But while I’m disappointed with the people involved and the way it’s all fallen apart so easily, but see the William Blake quote above as to why I actually wrote this.

  10. So let me be very clear. It’s not that it’s your responsibility to persuade them, it’s not that it’s your fault if they can’t get it, it’s that you’re the only one who is in a position to get them to engage. Who else is going to? Not me, because I do not have your experience to draw on. You can either throw your hands up in frustration and walk away, or you can try a different approach. Both are valid choices, because – like you say – you have no responsibility toward them. But having no responsibility to try isn’t the same thing as having a responsibility not to try.

    I understand what you are saying, and I respect that. I honestly do. I do, however, also believe that in this particular situation, I would be wasting my breath, given that there hasn’t been the slightest attempt to empathize with others on their side. And while I don’t think that makes them monsters, I do think it is fairly monstrous, and that’s something they’ll simply have to live with. I would rather spend my energy on supporting those who think differently than trying to convince those who don’t.

    Thank you for your level-headed comments, but we’ll have to agree to disagree.

  11. As a indie developer, you have to put up with certain restrictions which are dictated by economics. That is stating a fact.

    That is absolutely true. In fact, isn’t that what my entire article is about?

    However, there is a big difference between stating something about the nature of economics and turning what is actually a problem into an ideology and an excuse for excluding those who don’t fit certain economic criteria. That’s why I keep saying, both in the comments and in the article, that this isn’t about Greenlight. It’s about how we react to injustice.

    For example: police brutality is a fact. It’s there and it’s hard to stop. But if our reaction to police brutality is to say “oh, I can’t imagine this happening to someone who doesn’t deserve it” or “well, that’s just life” then we are reinforcing the ideology of the system. If we say “this is wrong” then that doesn’t save every victim, but it puts us as a community on a path where we may end up *doing* something about it, even on a larger scale.

  12. You are likely doing this already by having your games localised in English and maybe some other European or Asian languages.

    You know, I really wish you knew a bit about who you’re talking to, then your examples would be more fitting.

    It’s not a case of game designer or not but of “business” or “hobby”. If you want to do this full time you have to treat it as a business.

    That’s the logic of the bulldozer, of making everything the same. We became indies to change the business.

    And, you know, even within your capitalist logic, we’re still here. We’re struggling and we’re surviving and we’re making games that mean something to people. Not to be arrogant, but look at some of the reviews my games are getting. Look at the fact that they inspire people, that they make them cry, that they make them think. Hell, I don’t usually write about this, but there are people who were affected by my games in life-changing ways. Is that to be pushed aside because even though I’m surviving, I don’t have money to spend on Greenlight? Or if someone like Rob, whose games are actually fairly successful, doesn’t have the money because of the things that happened to him – does that mean he should not be making games?

    It was regular people, often poor people, with a passion for games, who made the indie scene what it is. The very people who created so much of what you know, who pushed for games to be respected as an artform, who moved players and made them understand that a game doesn’t have to have an AAA budget to succeed, are the people we are now being told are just hobbyists, or not real game developers.

    The world of indie gaming would be a lot poorer if we all thought like that.

  13. You know, I really wish you knew a bit about who you’re talking to, then your examples would be more fitting.

    I know full well what I’m talking about. Do you translate your games into Welsh? What about Swahili? What about Latin or Greek? Few people do, because the money isn’t there to justify the time. It would be nice to do, but the priority isn’t there to address it as much as other things. We have a finite amount of time and money to dedicate to a project, so we prioritise where we can. If we have spare time and/or money then we add all the stuff we’d love to add.

    That’s the logic of the bulldozer, of making everything the same. We became indies to change the business.

    And, you know, even within your capitalist logic, we’re still here.

    You (and a few others) seem to do the usual thing of throwing “capitalist” around as a bad word. You make a product, you sell that product, therefore you are a capitalist yourself. Anyone who makes something and sells it is a capitalist. Just because one puts more care and attention into the product they sell than someone else, does not make them any more or less of a capitalist.

    Is that to be pushed aside because even though I’m surviving, I don’t have money to spend on Greenlight? Or if someone like Rob, whose games are actually fairly successful, doesn’t have the money because of the things that happened to him – does that mean he should not be making games?

    Sure and I have written apps that people love and have made them much happier with their work or hobby or life or whatever they use it for. However, they were not making enough money alone. I’d love to be dedicating all my time to them still, but unfortunately the supermarket and the energy company and the bank and everyone else doesn’t accept good reviews as currency. They are good products, but they aren’t financially viable enough. So I took the choice to do contract work and now am bringing in enough money that I can actually work on these products without all the worry and stress of not having any money and not seeing where the money will come from in order to just get by in life.

    The very people who created so much of what you know, who pushed for games to be respected as an artform, who moved players and made them understand that a game doesn’t have to have an AAA budget to succeed, are the people we are now being told are just hobbyists, or not real game developers.

    If you are not treating this as a job in which you need to earn enough money to continue developing games, then it is merely a hobby. Money doesn’t have to be your primary aim, nor should it be, but it has to be something you consider a lot when making decisions. Money is merely the thing that lets us make more great stuff, it would be nice if it wasn’t there. But it’s too important a component of long term success to completely ignore

  14. I know full well what I’m talking about. Do you translate your games into Welsh? What about Swahili? What about Latin or Greek?

    Actually, I said who you were talking to, not what you were talking about. (Reading. It’s useful.) And picking Greek as your example of something laughably obscure is a rather unfortunate choice in this case.

    If you are not treating this as a job in which you need to earn enough money to continue developing games, then it is merely a hobby.

    And this is why it’s not really worth arguing with you. You don’t read my arguments, you just repeat the same clichés. This is pointless.

  15. James Patton

     /  September 9, 2012

    Hm.

    My problem is, since when has $100 been an indicator of quality? There have been massive, wealthy publishers who have put out absolute tripe; it happens all the time. And there have been penniless small-time developers who did the art themselves, used royalty-free sound effects, were just coding at home while looking for a job because they had nothing better to do, and who launched their games with no money in the bank at all and made enough to keep making games for a few years at least.

    If somebody writes a novel, the agencies and publishers don’t charge a fee to look it over. They do it for free. If they decide the book is worth pursuing, they sign the author on and then take a cut of their profits. Which is fine, because author and agent and publisher want the same thing: as many sales as possible.

    My point is, a millionaire could write a book, and a homeless person could write a book. And those two books would both be judged solely on how good they are. How wealthy they are matters not one jot, because when you get right down to it, what matters is the quality of the book/product/artwork.

    So why is capital suddenly an indication of quality, or of seriousness? All that should matter is how good the actual submission is. The indie scene, as far as I can tell, used to be about the *games*. If you made a good game, well done! You might make some money and you might get some fans. Now make another one! There were many games which made lots of money which I thought were kind of boring, and many which made little money which I thought were brilliant. (Actually, quite a lot of those were Jonas’ games.) But my point is, when somebody has a game that they’ve slaved over, *you should give the game a chance*. Because when you look at that game it should never matter how much money that person has made before. All that should matter is what the thing in front of you is.

    It’s just, it would be so straightforward for Valve to lower the entrance fee for what is essentially a gamble. What frustrates me is that the people who have the most unusual games will be 1) the people with less money to throw around and 2) the people who would benefit most from being on Steam. And while you have to float around the mainstream to an extent to ensure that people will actually play your game, I don’t see why submitting something on Steam on the offchance that people will realise it’s amazing should be punishable to the tune of $100.

  16. Well, what do you suggest then, make revolution, and ahcnge everything? Maybe a DDOS attack to Steam servers? Boicot their systems, or maybe make a diffamatory campaign, or sludge Gabe Newell with rotten eggs? And after we “succeed”, then what, what breave new wolrd will be built that will be so different that any oppresive empire that has been built in the last 10.000 years of civilization?

    Not saying that you are actually propposing that, you are not. But someone will conclude that (and they will, it is humanity we are talking aobut). But that’s what usually happens when someone sets a problem, and argues against it, whether he/she is right or not, but doesn’t want to propose a solution, nor an alternative to the issue other than “Fuck it”, which usually is interpreted as “destroy”.

    You should proppose the alternative instead of screaming alone. You should, in fact, send that letter you wrote. No, not post it on your blog, send it. Sign it with more respected members of the indie scene, ones that have weight. You have more power, a lot (even if you don’t think like that). Get some indies with power and actually do it. Don’t be like many others that just pretend to be mind changers and then scurry away, an when things go bad scream “but I was missinterpreted!”. You may have not 100$ but you have clout and some backup that someone like me will never get.

    But what can I do, an obscure “indie developer” from Colombia? Maybe, just maybe I can write this, and hell even if you don’t have the courage to send that letter, maybe I will, even if I don’t have even a fraction of the recognition you have…

  17. Andrew Whitehead

     /  September 10, 2012

    Forget Greenlight. Forget Valve. Valve is just a company that made a mistake. The question isn’t what Valve is doing, the question is what we are. Is this what indie games are now? A playground for privileged folks who want to pat themselves on the back for being chosen? A space that is not about challenging the mainstream by expanding what is possible (and popular) with games but about reinforcing the mainstream by creating a niche where only what is alternative in a safe and instantly profitable way is supported?

    Woe is me, the indie developer. So you want to use the Steam service and the years of loyal customers they’ve built up and on top of that you expect them to do all the filtering and check every submission for free? Getting you game on Steam isn’t a birthright bestowed upon developers, it’s a privilege. Valve don’t own the playground, but they do have the most friends to play with. They want to charge $100 to be considered? So? That’s their prerogative. If you don’t have a spare $100 for you precious indie game how the hell could you pay for anything in your life? What if you car breaks down? Your power-bill is goes up? Your

    If you don’t have enough capital to cover this relatively small fee get a job. Easier said than done for sure, but it’s got to be easier than making an indie game and hoping you hit the big time. Don’t like it? Fund and distribute the game yourself?

    I can only assume you’re in your early-twenties and still have that sense of entitlement young people have. I’m not even out of my twenties yet (but close) and I can tell you one thing “your employer owes you nothing”. Be it Valve, McDonalds or NASA – you got the job, deal with it.

    * Hold submissions in a moderation queue.
    * Do not allow game ideas – only actual projects.
    * Require each entry to have a functioning demo.
    * Add better sorting options.
    * Remove the downvote option.
    * Reword descriptions to clarify that Greenlight is about indie games.
    * If necessary, require a nominal fee. Instead of $100, just $5 or even $1 would be enough to deter most trolls. Even a very high fee will not deter those who are delusionally convinced that their game is perfect.
    *(various other suggestions by people with better ideas than myself)

    In this way, those of us from non-privileged backgrounds will still be able to participate in the Greenlight process, while a large percentage of unserious submissions will be eliminated.

    So who’s going to pay for that? Valve is supposed to foot the bill for the sorting process are they? Just take some of the guys working on other areas in the company and down-grade them to sorting this out? And $1-$5 WILL NOT deter as many people. Have been on the Internet? Have you met organised trolls? They’ll get together and make 100 submissions of “HALF-LIFE 3: SEX WITH ALYX EDITION LOL”… it’s what they do.

    Get over the self-entitlement and play by their rules or do it on your own. Notch did it with Minecraft and if you make something worth a damn you can promote it by yourself. Otherwise it’s $100 (that goes to charity) to use the biggest online PC game store known to man. Small price to pay really.

  18. Matt Mc

     /  September 10, 2012

    This changed my mind pretty rapidly about the subject. Thank you.

  19. I got lots of hate on a few popular indie game sites recently for announcing my game (which is like Track and Field in 1D and therefore could only exist as an indie game) was in paid beta. Apparently unless I create a puzzle platformer or FPS I don’t deserve to earn any money from my games. So my opinion on fans in certain sections of the community dropped like a stone these aren’t guys who have ever invested a bit of their soul into a project they are consumers who want to consume the latest fad and nothing less.

    I have aspergers and have been under employed all my life. My two sons (14 and almost 3) have the same condition and my partner lost her job several years ago and now looks after us full-time. To make money I make games. Thanks to the tax system here in the UK we don’t starve but we earn less with me running a business that makes next to nothing than we would if I declared myself unemployed.

    At the moment I need to renew my Apple registration and register as an Android developer so I can start earning a few quid again. This adds up to $125. Anyone who thinks getting about £80 out of my budget is easy hasn’t lived in the real world.

    I was part of the greenlight beta (lucky number 13 in the steam group) and went to the London meeting in July (a massive investment of £25 on the train with £5 spending money. Luckily another indie bought me a beer before the meeting and inside there was free food and drink. I’d like to see people who think $100 is nothing travel hundreds of miles knowing that if they miss their train there is no safety net they will be stuck 150 miles from home with only pocket change to get home on. I chose not to take part in the beta after the kicking my game took from people who’d done nothing more than look at a screen shot handed out.

    Previously I knew that eventually I’d get a game on Steam. I have had a few years away from PC games but I know that I’d turn one out with a cult following and it would end up in the right hands when I filled in a Steam submission but unless Greenlight is improved I doubt my mental health could even handle the submission process.

  20. @Andrew Whitehead: You’re really not worth responding to. But it’s lovely of you to repeat the same clichés yet again, we all needed that. (How do you manage to coordinate with other users to use exactly the same language? Is it some sort of hivemind, possibly run by the Daily Mail?)

  21. You should proppose the alternative instead of screaming alone. You should, in fact, send that letter you wrote. No, not post it on your blog, send it. Sign it with more respected members of the indie scene, ones that have weight. You have more power, a lot (even if you don’t think like that). Get some indies with power and actually do it. Don’t be like many others that just pretend to be mind changers and then scurry away, an when things go bad scream “but I was missinterpreted!”.

    Ah, but that’s not the point. I’m more concerned with how we judge and treat indie games and their game developers than with what Steam is doing. Steam could offer free access to God, but it still wouldn’t matter if we were all arrogant, condescending shits like Andrew Whitehead there, or like the infamous Jonathan Blow.

  22. Andrew Whitehead

     /  September 10, 2012

    You’re really not worth responding to. But it’s lovely of you to repeat the same clichés yet again, we all needed that. (How do you manage to coordinate with other users to use exactly the same language? Is it some sort of hivemind, possibly run by the Daily Mail?)

    Yeah, I work at the Daily Mail. Brilliant. I do actually work in the media, but not for News Limited (that’s immediately where the hive-mind of self-righteous hipsters go to when you tell them that). I don’t make ‘cool’ games for ‘cool’ kids and complain when I have to pay my own way to get somewhere. There is no co-ordination between me and anyone else, I’d say your detractors are just adults who’ve had to work for their money don’t want to hear about your first-world problems of “Valve should let me be on their service!”.

    You can complain all you want, but they make the rules. That’s life. Give up whatever shit you don’t need in your life for a week or so and save up that $100 and spend it on a game that you’ve been working on. Stooping to calling me “shit” in later posts exposes how juvenile you are.

    I mean I come from a family where one of the bread winners is an abstract artist. Do you think anyone was lining up to hand over the cheques?

    You’re concerned about how we treat indie developers? You make video games and sell them on the internet. You’re not a doctor working in a third-world country saving lives. By all means, stand up for your rights, but who exactly is taking them from you? You can still make and sell you games without Steam. Other people can do it, some have done it quite well in the past. Maybe you should worry more about the quality of your product before being concerned about distribution of it.

  23. You should really get a job at the Daily Mail, you’re so excellent at missing everything anyone says and responding in clichés about hard work and all that. Basically your posts are hilarious because they’re a caricature of what we’ve been discussing for days now.

    And you are a shit. Now go away and don’t come back, because I’ll simply delete your next post, if only to keep poor Lin from vomiting even more.

    (Oh, and to clarify: no, I don’t think you’re part of a conspiracy. I’m not paranoid. I just think you’re a drone.)

  24. Andrew Whitehead

     /  September 10, 2012

    no, I don’t think you’re part of a conspiracy. I’m not paranoid. I just think you’re a drone.

    Okay, well best of luck to you. I’m not a drone I’m just voicing an opinion that doesn’t fall in line with yours. But hey, censoring dissenters is cool too, I guess. Sorry to hear getting $100 together is so hard for you and your wife, you must both have really high-paying and important jobs. I’m sure the rest of the gaming world you’re fighting so hard for will forever be in your debt while Gabe Newell wishes he only listened to you when he had the chance.

    Keep on churning out the same derivative games and I’m sure you’ll be on the Android marketplace one day!

  25. I was going to delete that post, but it’s too good.

    But hey, censoring dissenters is cool too, I guess.

    Wow, the guy so desperate to maintain the status quo and attacking someone for questioning it is a dissenter! And deleting condescending posts on a private blog is censorship – but discriminating against people on the basis of their income is just fine!

    Sorry to hear getting $100 together is so hard for you and your wife, you must both have really high-paying and important jobs.

    Perfect. Thank you for proving my point.

    Keep on churning out the same derivative games and I’m sure you’ll be on the Android marketplace one day!

    AHAHAHAHAHAHA.

  26. Andrew Whitehead

     /  September 10, 2012

    I was going to delete that post, but it’s too good.

    But hey, censoring dissenters is cool too, I guess.

    Wow, the guy so desperate to maintain the status quo and attacking someone for questioning it is a dissenter! And deleting condescending posts on a private blog is censorship – but discriminating against people on the basis of their income is just fine!

    Sorry to hear getting $100 together is so hard for you and your wife, you must both have really high-paying and important jobs.

    Perfect. Thank you for proving my point.

    Keep on churning out the same derivative games and I’m sure you’ll be on the Android marketplace one day!

    AHAHAHAHAHAHA.

    I’m fairly certain you’ve resorted to some ad hominem attacks here, but the facts remain – what you’re complaining about is like somebody saying “Penguin won’t publish my book!!” or “EMI won’t sign my band!!”. Tough luck. It’s a contest, there’s a $100 entrance fee. That’s the bottom line. If someone lives in a country where $100 US dollar is too much I’d love to know how they learnt to program, even got a computer or can pay for the Internet let alone buy things off Steam.

    Your sense of self-entitlement is astonishing. I’m not actually hurt by your witty rebuttals (writing AHAHAHAH was classic by the way), I’m just trying to prove a point – you need to get over this and focus on making a better quality of game. Seriously, did you play Braid? That game is amazing. Aim higher.

  27. You’re getting funnier by the minute. I’d respond to your “arguments” but they’ve all been covered a million times before in this very comments thread.

    And the fact that you have NO IDEA about who I am and what my games are just makes it even funnier.

  28. And this is why it’s not really worth arguing with you. You don’t read my arguments, you just repeat the same clichés. This is pointless.

    Because I point out basic mathematics and basic economics? I agree it’s pointless continuing the argument but I feel it’s more due to an inability on your part to put pragmatism and logic over ideology.

    Oh and Andrew, please try to be a bit more civil. You can disagree with Jonas but there’s no reason to act like a 14 year old over it and belittle his efforts. I may disagree with his world view but I still respect him for trying and making what appear to be pretty good games.

  29. I agree it’s pointless continuing the argument but I feel it’s more due to an inability on your part to put pragmatism and logic over ideology.

    Let me put it another way, perhaps that will make it easier to understand. Given my background and the problems I’ve had (many of them beyond my control, like Rob’s), why do you come to the negative conclusion that I’m an ideologically-driven failure rather than to the positive conclusion that I’ve put an enormous amount of effort into making it here in the first place? To make indie games and to actually reach people with games that are *very* different from the norm without utterly destroying yourself actually takes a ton of hard-headed pragmatism. How do you think people like me make it from month to month? People give us advice that amounts to “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” but we’re already doing that. And the games people like us have made have to a large degree created this indie scene that everyone now sees purely as a business for people who already have money.

  30. giorgos

     /  September 10, 2012

    I’m fairly certain you’ve resorted to some ad hominem attacks here, but the facts remain – what you’re complaining about is like somebody saying “Penguin won’t publish my book!!” or “EMI won’t sign my band!!”.

    actually it’s more like saying ‘this literary agent wants money to read my manuscript’ -> Yog’s Law

    If someone lives in a country where $100 US dollar is too much I’d love to know how they learnt to program, even got a computer or can pay for the Internet let alone buy things off Steam.

    that’s why there are no poor people on the internet right?

  31. Lin

     /  September 10, 2012

    Giorgos is right. The thing so many of these lovely people are really trying to express is that being poor is an outrageous affront on society. So how dare you be poor? Or better yet, how dare you be poor and still manage to pollute our interwebz with your stinky poor fingers? How dare you be poor and still want/need/aspire to be creative? Ah, the brave old world.

  32. why do you come to the negative conclusion that I’m an ideologically-driven failure rather than to the positive conclusion that I’ve put an enormous amount of effort into making it here in the first place?

    Because whenever I point out basic mathematical and economic facts you write them of as the clichéd arguments of Daily Mail readers. I’m not saying you haven’t worked hard, I’ve said multiple times that running a business is incredibly hard.

    I’m saying that if one chooses to treat making money as a low priority item, then it is VERY unlikely they will actually make a lot of money from their endeavours. If money isn’t a low priority, but money is not coming in, then one has to consider other means of income in order to afford to continue. This could mean making more mainstream products, or it could just mean looking for other work (be it another job or freelance work) to bring in money to help fund work on the products we want to produce. Very few artists have made a living purely through their work, especially early on. They often had another job to support them financially and then used their spare time to create their art, building up that side of it until it could support them fully.

    How do you think people like me make it from month to month? People give us advice that amounts to “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” but we’re already doing that.

    I always dislike the phrase “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” and indeed, whenever someone uses it, my usual retort is “but what about those without boots?” (I’m very much a strong believer in the welfare state). My argument is that if you are treating working as a full time game developer as a business, and you cannot afford $100 for a business expense, then you should be looking at how to change the business to do that.

    The ideological side I talk about is that you want to be a full time indie. So do I. And I assume you, like I, consider giving up on that as having failed. However, I was made to realise late last year, that it isn’t really a failure to give up on it. Constantly worrying about money for essentials is hugely draining and indeed was making me lose my passion. By making the decision to change my business a bit and start doing contract work, I now have enough money coming in that I’m not worrying about it, and I can now start getting back to enjoying making software people love.

  33. Daniele

     /  September 10, 2012

    If you don’t want invest 100$ on your game, mean that you don’t consider your product so valuable to be on Steam, so why I should see it on Greenlight?

  34. Aman

     /  September 10, 2012

    @mark :

    It feels like you’re confusing indie with self publishing.
    Business isn’t a hard idea to comprehend.
    In fact , people here very well know the idea of business that others have tried to explain.
    It’s unnecessary. We know what selling is.
    This is a question of disposable income rather than having no money at all ( unless if we go to developing world scenario ).

    I’m sure you know that just living can be quite expensive .
    Without even factoring food( as basic as commodities get ) people have to pay for council tax ( at least over here in the uk ) , rent(or mortgage ), water, electricity.
    If we say the person is a homeowner home insurance also applies.
    Extending this person to an indie dev we can factor in telephone lines and Internet.
    And a car because surprisingly you can’t walk everywhere or take a bus everywhere. ( annually the travel costs might be the same ) .
    100$ covers one of the above costs for a couple months.
    The part time argument comes at this point however we need to realise money is money, no matter where we earn it from . And taxes and energy can’t wait for delays in payment.
    Some might say ‘oh how can people this be so poor’ . Ask yourself if you know what a student is.
    Having to eat noodles regularly to keep your hobby , this happens more frequently than you can imagine. In this student scenario the hobby might get you returns . ( not belittling indie devs as hobbyists if it seems so)

    Not to be rude , just being inquisitive , do you have any qualifications in business mark ?

  35. If you don’t want invest 100$ on your game, mean that you don’t consider your product so valuable to be on Steam, so why I should see it on Greenlight?

    You know, that’s what this article and these comments were all about. It amazes me that you can be so ignorant as to post that as if it wasn’t what we’ve been arguing about the whole time.

  36. I’m saying that if one chooses to treat making money as a low priority item, then it is VERY unlikely they will actually make a lot of money from their endeavours.

    If I thought money was a low priority, would I be fighting to make people aware of this issue? We’re coming back to blaming people for their own poverty, even if you’re not doing it intentionally. It’s not as easy as “if you wanted to have money, you’d have it.”

    Look at how many people in the world, including the Western world, are not managing to survive. Many of these people have all kinds of amazing degrees and skills (not just “arty-farty” ones), and they don’t even have some kind of artistic vision or goal to make unwise decisions for. They just want to have any kind of job, and they’re still not managing. Youth unemployment in Greece and Spain is more than 50%. We don’t live in a world where everyone has the luxury of just doing something else.

  37. Aman

     /  September 10, 2012

    @mark again ,

    Tbh you’re being fairly ignorant. Excuse me if you find that offensive but what you’re doing is trying to find a solution for a question which hasn’t been asked.

    Be prepared this might irk you a bit.

    The point about this article is The status of an indie dev. What qualifies an indie dev. A struggling indie dev is still an indie dev, is he not ?
    As you’ve clarified you were one of the many who failed. Fail is an ugly word but it’s an testification to reality. It might not have been a road to doom from the beginning , you probably had some successes. Otherwise you wouldn’t have pushed 6 years into it.

    Ok remember the 6 years. Remember all the hardships . Remember how dear 100$ was. Remember how proud you were to be a developer.

    This article is a retort to those who have said that not having 100$ to take a risk means you CANNOT be an indie dev .

    Therefore mark, every day that you struggled, you weren’t a developer.

    Jonas is arguing for people like you.
    He is rightly saying you were one.

  38. This was a good reminder, thanks. I’m still eating Ramen noodles for lunch, but I’m not about to lose the house anymore (right now, anyway…) and it’s easy to forget that just a couple years ago I was selling all my worldly possessions to keep making indie games.

    So here’s where the problem is, to me: in a lot of cases, it’s unethical to even allow indies to “suck it up” and spend $100, because they have no chance of making money from it.

    In my experience, a whole lot of indie developers are willing to bet the farm on… crap games. They think they’ve got a hit, and they just don’t. More than 90% of indie games are never going to find a huge audience, and they sure don’t belong on Steam. But the developers simply do not know this and can’t be convinced of it. In many cases, for newbies, it’s caused by the Dunning-Kruger effect. You can’t just talk people out of that. Believe me, I’ve tried.

    And I hate to think of them throwing their months’ groceries away on this because they’re confident it’ll pay off, when a rational person could easily see that they’d have better luck with the lotto.

    We all want to encourage indies to believe in their dreams, but not every dream is financially viable, and it’s immoral to encourage people to throw away money they can ill afford if we can easily see that this particular game isn’t going to work on Steam.

    So IMO Steam simply must do the game checking themselves. They have to be the bad guys who tell people “no.” Nobody else can do it with authority. Foisting it off on the community was bad enough, and then throwing in a cash fee is worse. (I’ve seen people here use the old “but Valve can’t afford it” bit, which is ludicrous — they’ve always afforded it so far! They’re literally just now starting to refuse to do their own game analyses.)

    I’m part owner of a website called FGL.com, where we act as agents selling indie game sponsorships. We have to look at hundreds of games every week, and we’ve often wanted to do this very thing (but at a much lower price point). If we charged $20 to get onto the site, we’d save a ton of time. But it’s wrong for an agent to take money before they make you money. If it doesn’t set off alarms in your head, you’re a sucker. It’s really that simple.

    (Not to mention that we’d be shutting out poorer countries, which actually make many of our best games. The Russian-area devs are often very highly skilled and make great games, but they’re also incredibly poor due to the exchange rate. On the flip side, it’s a great feeling when we get them a sale, because even if it’s a tiny $200 US license, that can really make their month.)

    Bottom line is that we always advise developers to skip any contest with entrance fees. They’re a sucker’s bet. And unfortunately Steam has become a sucker’s bet, now, too.

  39. Timmy

     /  September 10, 2012

    I’ve already said it in RPS but I thought I’d share my thoughts here in addition to what you’ve said.

    First is that $100 in advance means that the game is going to cost more for everyone because you’re obviously not a charity and that money will be recovered from the customers afterwards. I find it very strange that buyers actually say that they want developers to pay more to Valve, and if I tell them they have to pay more because the game “obviously” deserves it they are crying like little babies. Stopping this nonsense is a good thing for customers too but they seem to be blind to see it. But perhaps they deserve it. :)

    A second thing is that the $100 clearly means that Valve has no idea what they are doing, and it’s strange considering they supposedly have lots of money and intelligent employees. If Greenlight is such a great idea, how come they are not prepared for it?

    Finally, for me personally, who is thinking of make a sellable indie game right now, the problem is that I can think of other better uses for the $100. I am currently waiting until the Windows 8 App Store is set up (well, the game won’t be finished before that anyway), and then I can probably reach even more people with that money than using Steam. Will there be many people joining Steam after Win8? I doubt it.

  40. Didn’t want to enter the conversation for a variety of reasons, but this is simply silly:

    You (and a few others) seem to do the usual thing of throwing “capitalist” around as a bad word. You make a product, you sell that product, therefore you are a capitalist yourself. Anyone who makes something and sells it is a capitalist. Just because one puts more care and attention into the product they sell than someone else, does not make them any more or less of a capitalist.

    Just go read the basics of political economy mate. Capitalists are those who actually own the means of production and use them by employing people in order to make a profit.

    Simple enough? Good.

  41. Lucas

     /  September 10, 2012

    “Ah, but that’s not the point. I’m more concerned with how we judge and treat indie games and their game developers than with what Steam is doing. Steam could offer free access to God, but it still wouldn’t matter if we were all arrogant, condescending shits like Andrew Whitehead there, or like the infamous Jonathan Blow.”

    Yes, because the Indie Dev crowd doesn’t have their own group of arrogant condescending fuckasses. We should all look to Phil Fish as a role model and tell people to suck our dicks and choke on them when we win an award.

    Not that it’s related, but that comment really reminded me of him. Personally I hope he submits Fez to Greenlight so I can downvote it and write a scathing review since it is a terrible game.

  42. Yes, because the Indie Dev crowd doesn’t have their own group of arrogant condescending fuckasses. We should all look to Phil Fish as a role model and tell people to suck our dicks and choke on them when we win an award.

    …I was mainly talking about indie devs. How we judge and treat each other. (Which does not mean being nice to bigots and bullies.)

  43. Lucas

     /  September 10, 2012

    Yes, because telling everyone to suck your dick and choke on it is clearly being nice to everyone who is not a bigot or bully.

  44. Err, when did I say that? I simply said I’m concerned with how we value people and works, but added that this doesn’t exclude calling people out when they’re being bigots or bullies. How does this mean I support Fish’s comments?

  45. Lucas

     /  September 10, 2012

    “…I was mainly talking about indie devs. How we judge and treat each other. (Which does not mean being nice to bigots and bullies.)”

    That sounds like you’re talking about how Indie Devs treat each other. Not how people treat each other or judge and value works. It sounded more like you were giving him an excuse.

  46. Nah, I was just adding that to preempt the people who tell me that being intolerant of intolerance is bad and that sort of thing.

  47. Just go read the basics of political economy mate. Capitalists are those who actually own the means of production and use them by employing people in order to make a profit.

    Simple enough? Good.

    Eh? Lets compare what I said to what you said.

    Me: “You make a product”
    You: “those who actually own the means of production and use them by employing people”

    If you make a product you own the means of production. You can employ others, or you can be self employed. Of course it is worth noting that you don’t necessarily need to produce anything, unless you count service as being produced.

    Me: “you sell that product”
    You: “in order to make a profit.”

    You do sell it in order to make a profit. You sell it for $x, pay processing costs and any tax and make a net revenue from the product. You then use that to help pay wages, buy things to help your business and hopefully at the end have something left over as profit, which can then be used to help grow the business in the future, or be saved to help get through tougher times (after paying tax on it of course).

    Therefore we are both in agreement that if you produce something and sell it to try and make a profit you’re a capitalist. Of course trying to make a profit doesn’t mean making insane amounts, it could just be a few $100 or a few $1000 a year

  48. @Martin Pilkington:

    No, no, no. We are not in agreement. There’s an abyss of disagreement between us, but you do seem nice enough for another anser ;)

    You see, you have to both own the means of production AND employ people in order to be a capitalist.

    Also, you say:

    “You can employ others, or you can be self employed.”

    No, not really. As I said, this is not a matter of opinion actually. It’s a fact. You can’t be a self-employed capitalist.

    “Of course it is worth noting that you don’t necessarily need to produce anything, unless you count service as being produced.”

    Of course services are produced. And so is transport. And physical products. The process of production of the two doesn’t really change and the modern bibliography keeps on reducing the difference between services/manufacturing as the one can’t happen without the other.

    For example, how would a factory work without an accountant?

    Now, as I’m pretty sure both you and others won’t care about such things, it would be better if I just stopped.

    Bye.

  49. No, not really. As I said, this is not a matter of opinion actually. It’s a fact. You can’t be a self-employed capitalist.

    So say in theory I had 3 people who worked for me, but were contractors (who were self employed) and not employees. Would that not make me a capitalist? Is the distinction between capitalist and, well… not capitalist, a case of me actually employing one of those people rather than contracting them.

  50. beavinator

     /  September 11, 2012

    Hey Jonas. I have nothing to add to this discussion that hasn’t already been said. I just wanted to mention that at this point, you may wish to update your “Writing” page, specifically the blurb which labels your post about Harold Bloom as “Easily the most controversial thing [you've] ever written”, since clearly this one dwarfs it by a long shot! :)