I’m the last honest man in videogames and so is my wife.
I read with interest and slight bafflement the recent Polygon piece on the aftermath of Molygeddon, that with Peter now shushed and I guess, partly as a result of John’s barely saying boo to a goose interview, developers will be more guarded, more PR savvy and that’s it now, we’re done here.
We’re not done here.
It’s bafflement partly because in a post-Molygeddon world we’ve seen no shortage of old hands willing to shit themselves in public in service of distracting from having even the slightest light shone on the games industry, we’ve no shortage of them willing to say the most absurd and sometimes unintentionally callous things to prove that game development is hard (everything is hard, it’s how you carry yourself through the difficulties that counts) and well, come on, this is videogames, there’s never any shortage of someone saying some damn stupid shit. It’s a daily event, handlers or not. Talking unguarded is not and never was the reserve of just Peter.
It’s bafflement because sure, Moly may have been let loose without a handler but his honesty is still PR, it might come across as a more sincere, more open conversation but it’s still just PR. It’s all in service of the videogame and it’s often more than slightly dishonest in its claims. I honestly don’t know what’s preferable, being rolled out with a handler or the poor fuckers back at the studio who have to read about a bunch of features they never knew existed or were ever to exist until the interview went live. My hunch is to say that I’ll take the handler, it hurts less.
It’s bafflement because it assumes that the world hasn’t changed, that there is a shortage of interesting people who’ll talk to to the press, now there’s just folks who won’t say boo to a goose, no-one left for the press to sit down and interview unguarded. This is, to me, more an indication of a press not looking around them, unable to keep their ears to the ground and to find new blood to speak to. I’m not pointing fingers or looking for folks to blame, I’m in the middle of the videogame whirlwind and *I* find it hard to keep up with what’s going on around me. I’m not hamstrung by the need to make rent to pay people to do their work either.
There are hundreds of developers out there right now making interesting games and only a scant few millionaires and successful folk that the press give their attention to. There’s honourable exceptions, there always is and I tip my hat to folks like Mike Bithell who manage to ride the quote machines and be good human beings at the same time, no shortage of respect there.
I almost didn’t want to write this because I’m not in it to kick anyone, just kinda sad at all these kids, all these people riding the waves of a new openness in development, all these people desperate for a voice that aren’t being given their chance to speak, are having their ability to speak open and unguarded, their willingness to speak open and unguarded, written off because the industry is stuck in its ways and floundering to keep up with the new blood.
It’s always been this, of course, but in the thousand trailer preorder bonus jiggling new news cycle it’s more difficult to cut through the bullshit of an unending blast of PR from the big, the monolithic and the old. This is, of course, partly the point of those PR blasts, to consume attention. Yet we live in a world where most of the chances to talk about videogames go to the people who, even without a PR guard, have the least to say. Those increasingly irrelevant men, doing what they’ve always done.
There’s so many people in games now with so much to say, so much of worth and use but they don’t fit within the system. They don’t have organised PR, they don’t do press tours and in many, many cases, you won’t find them locked in a room at an event showing off their videogames to the press because that is still a privilege reserved for the few (as good as some indies are at reaching out and playing the game). We can’t keep on going as we always have done and expect the new blood to fit in with us and the old ways, we need to accommodate them somehow. Reach out to them for their words.
Rather than lament the virtual death of the last honest man in gaming, it’s time to find ways to reach these new people and let them speak. It’s something the music press worked out long ago, sure with its own imperfections and troubles but still, they look for the new, the upcoming, the gobshites and more.
It’s time for videogames to do the same. Good vocal people are out there, no handlers, fuck all. Let’s break the cycle of the old news and help usher in generation of generation of new game authors and give them their chances, their opportunities to speak. No tears for Peter or any of the other old guard, they’ve had a good run and they can always chime in when they feel like it. And they will because fucking hell, we’ve no shortage of people who don’t know when to shut up (*waves*). They’ll be OK, they’ve done OK.
Time to catch up with where games are now, eh? No more laments for the old guard and the old ways. On with the new.