“But It’s Not REAL!” (alternative title: i want my free premium content, and to complain about it too)

My grandfather had a lot of respect for what I did (art on computers), but he had a hard time understanding the value in it at first. I spend forever making something, but what is made on computers has no “real world value”, because it isn’t tangible. This is a mentality not foreign to a lot of “old people”. I remember a student telling me about how his dad had trouble understanding how he can earn any good (or respectable) living making art on computers. The mentality is because it’s NOT real, it has no real worth.
Digital art is (by this mindset) more along the lines of a gimmick, than something useful.

Recently it hit me that this is not only something “old people” struggle with, but we all subconsciously do on some level or another.

Lately I’ve been running on fumes trying to keep myself working, fixing bugs, and just continuing creating things — when I’m not contracting (freelance) I spend every free moment on my games. I love making art/games on computers. It’s all I used to want to do, but lately it’s grown into a black hole of exhaustion and “getting bitched at”. Although, I get it. I’m probably burned out, but instead of quietly dealing with the depression I though I would use it as an opportunity to discuss this… since I’m not masking it with optimism.

The “getting bitched at” is not an uncommon occurrence. A very typical scenario is that someone rates my game 1 star because of an issue. I will maybe spend a week trying to fix it, and working with them to understand the issue. After it’s fixed, and they are happy, they don’t change the one star rating. This is a classic scenario (has happened all the time) and I’m not pointing at anything specific please.
I will spend up to a year (for complex projects) pouring everything I have into a game, and release it. Feedback has been very positive, and I am by no means complaining, but it’s hard to also sift through the sarcasm, and negative one liners that get dropped on you (email or whatever). There seems to be a lack of understanding that a creator is doing this out of passion, and not getting payed.
I never thought this bothered me until recent. It’s really something you just get used to. I mean, I got things as harsh as death/rape threats and always prided myself in my ability to laugh them off, but is all this really necessary?
People will complain about what you make. You have to take the good for the bad and just focus on the good. But do you have to do that so much? Why are we so quick to complain about free, premium content on the web? Am I being entitled by wanting the conversation to be more positive? Maybe it’s not me, but the people bitching at me that are entitled?
After all, we want it free, good, fast, perfect, flawless, fun, and did I mention free?
All that work for absolutely nothing. If you are lucky you get to monetize by ads, but this is an archaic model that seems to be more of a bandage over a larger problem no one wishes to really address. We really should be paying for this.
We are used to it being free, want it for free, but not willing to pay. In a way, the web has spoiled us, and this mindset has painted us in a corner of sorts.

Considering why this may be… I understand that there are many factors that contribute to this, but I revert back to my previous story of “old people” not understanding the value of “virtual non material goods”.
Even if we work with technology, and we say we respect it, or are adamant about respecting it, I suggest that we all have this bias.
Creating free content on the internet is a strange, and hopelessly thankless job. We are so used to premium quality entertainment, writing, games, movies, for the price of nothing, but we are also very used to complaining about these things as if we payed for them. As if the effort it took to watch, read, or play it was enough of a payment.
I mean, is this ok?
It’s been a long, hard, uphill battle for people creating web content, to fight for the same respect anyone else providing “real services” has. By that I mean, the age-old joke of “exposure is the payment”. Make this website (app, game, logo…) for me, and you can get so much exposure. We’ve all encountered this… I’ve encountered that more times than I care to count… But I would argue that only discussing how crappy an incentive “exposure” is (and that exposure is no currency to pay rent with) is just a small part of the issue.
I think the issue is that we have no cultural model, or “broader cultural mindset”, for the worth of this stuff. We don’t really talk, or care, about how much effort goes into it. It’s completely taken for granted.

I point out again… You work for a year on a game, and release it for free, to sift through complaints, bug reports, and all the like, in order to make it better so you can sift through more complaints, bug reports, and the like… We are at the point where we consider a $2 game on the App Store expensive, and this price alone will get you complained at. It’s not a healthy environment. The amount of work that goes into the damn thing is by no means that minimal. To understand the extent of this problem, I remember reading through the negative feedback Monument Valley’s paid expansion got. Of course, this example is old, but not irrelevant or “fixed”.
It can help to make a comparison to real-world goods… For example, a $50 dress can literally be made in a day (even faster if not done by hand). People will not bat an eye about paying that price, are often OK with paying more (incases of brand names), and it will get lots of compliments.
If a dress isn’t a realistic comparison, then think about coffee. We’re completely OK with what we pay for a cup of coffee (same price as an App, only consumed once, and that’s ok). How about a free meal?
If I spend a day cooking a free meal, sewing a free shirt, making pretty much anything tangible for free, and give it away, chances are it would be rude to complain — it would not earn me the same amount of complaints, at any rate. I hate being flamed or threatened (joke or not).
I don’t nitpick at a free meal the same way as a free game is complained about, so why is this so normal?

I don’t know… I would love to hear more of a discussion facilitated around this.
I’m well aware of all the counter arguments (I read the comments). I am entitled, and snobby, and taking rejection of my work too hard, but am I? I am not the only creator experiencing this. Not everyone will like the same game, movie, or writing, but do we honestly have to be so hard on it? I mean, really. Threats are so normal?
Look at some youtube comments on lets plays of free games. It’s always been very cool to be sarcastic. I mean, it’s cute, I laugh too, but it’s hard to say something nice (at least it’s less common). I realize that this is the culture, but does it have to be?

I guess it’s been getting to me too much, or more than usual, but getting complaints (email and the like) of this not working here, and that not working there, and I have to fix it… for free… as years go by it starts to feel more of a black hole you are pouring your passion into than anything else.

At any rate… Food for thought!

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