[Looking back at this, I fully understand why I found this behaviour so enraging, but Joel was right - personal accusations of classism don't really help. I do think it was wise to block some especially toxic people, but eventually I had to extend that blocking to people who were "on the same side" as myself in this issue, as it turned out that it was all personal to them, and that's not politics, that's kindergarten.]
So. It’s been almost precisely a month since the Steam Greenlight $100 controversy. Now Bentosmile (creator of Air Pressure) needs help to pay for unexpected medical bills and Amon26 (creator of All Of Our Friends Are Dead, Au Sable, Gyossait) just got an eviction notice. I guess that means they’re not real game developers. Not real indies, because real indies have money. That’s what makes you indie, right? Having money, being part of the system, going with the flow. That’s why we became indies. Because we believe quality is judged by budget. Just the like the mainstream games industry. In fact, the mainstream games industry is even more indie than we are.
Yeah, that’s it.
In the comments to his Electron Dance double feature on The One Hundred Dollar Question/The Infinite Ocean, A Weaponized Machine, the lovely and fine-smelling Joel Goodwin talked about how the accusation of classism is a bridge-burner:
Once the word classist has been invoked against someone, there’s obviously no way back for that discussion. I’m not saying it was inaccurate but it’s a bridge burner.
So someone like Adam Atomic who enabled many hobbyists with Flixel thinks the $100 thing is overblown. That sounds like someone you can have a conversation about – but I doubt Twitter is the place for it. Once classist is lobbed in, well, it’s game over with the pyrrhic victory achievement.
I burn bridges easily. I dislike wasting my time with people I feel cannot be convinced when there is real work to do, real problems to solve. So the comment about Adam Atomic got me thinking. There’s no denying the amazing contribution Flixel has been to indie game development. And I can’t pretend the people who took the other side in this debate like to murder puppies or enjoy Torchwood.
The people who made a big deal about how $100 couldn’t possibly be a big deal to anyone weren’t just expressing a personal perference. They weren’t talking about their own situation and how it was OK for them. No. They were reacting to someone else saying “This is difficult for me. I am struggling.” by saying “No, you’re not. You’re lazy. You don’t deserve to do better.” There is absolutely no reason for an emotionally sane person to do this. Why just dismiss someone else’s suffering? Why dismiss the very possibility that someone is in trouble despite working hard – doubly so in today’s economic climate?
No-one – absolutely no-one – suggested that being able to afford $100 was a crime. No-one tried to exclude the developers who have more money. And no-one suggested that every game should get onto Steam. That “entitlement” right-wing developers are so very fond of talking about is absolutely fictional. Everyone agreed that content needed to be filtered, and pretty much everyone suggested a variety of methods that would not exclude people on the basis of money.
These comments weren’t about an opinion being expressed. They were an attack. They were about spitting in the faces of those who dared to suggest that all is not right with the world.
And you know what? I find that fucking enraging. When people are losing their homes, struggling to survive, how dare you dismiss their problems? Even if these weren’t people who have helped shape the indie scene that you now plan to make a profit from, even if they were complete unknowns who never achieved anything, how dare you attack another person for not keeping quiet about their problems? No-one is stopping you from submitting your game. No-one is accusing you of being a bad person or not a real developer for being able to afford something. What’s so hard about saying “$100 is not too much for me, but clearly not everyone is in the same situation as I am”?
In other words, why go out of your way to harm others when you don’t even benefit from it? Why make up complete horseshit about entitled indies just to ensure someone else’s problems aren’t taken seriously?
Actually, you know what, I don’t really care why. I have my theories, but the fact is that if you chose to make these arguments, if you can’t understand that people might have legit reasons for what they say, if you chose to link to that wonderful Aztez post with the photo of a whining child and inspirational quotes like “Go make a great game, and then everything will line up for you, assuming you’ve got half a brain.” – even if you didn’t read the post closely enough to realize those words were in there – then fuck you. Seriously, fuck you. I can take a lot from people, I follow the writings of people whose political opinions are miles away from mine, but if you can take someone else’s pain and mock and dismiss it like that then I want nothing to do with you. If you think it’s even remotely OK to equate people trying to make a point about financial inequality with pouting children then I think you’re disgusting and I’ll gladly burn the bridges to keep the mental plague away.
In theory, I get what Joel was talking about. I know why he feels this way, just like I know why people were telling me to give this person or that person another chance, repeat my arguments to them yet again in the hopes that maybe they’d attempt to parse at least a single sentence. But when someone has already responded to someone else’s easy-to-understand, utterly-common-in-this-world problems by linking to a vile rant about entitled babies, then I don’t think it’s worth the effort. That’s not even classism, that’s class hatred. And fuck that.
Now go support some indies. It won’t change the fundamental problems of the system, but it might help some people survive. As for myself, I’ve had a good month. After having to pay for doctors, insurances, food, website costs, phone bills and rent, I might actually be left with $100.
Probably not, though.