“Everything is going to be OK” early access observations & some philosophy (about art games)

So… “Everything is going to be OK” has been released as early access for a while now. This game has been both hugely liberating to make, but also difficult. The emotional fallout has hit me pretty hard today. I usually don’t post about stuff like this, but because this is a personal game, I feel like it’s important to mention a few things (hoping to encourage others).

For one, I think after making this I’ll have a lot to say about making games that discuss very personal things. :)
It has been interesting watching some of the more negative, or sarcastic, reactions from people.
This is really something you have to emotionally protect yourself from. I thought I was prepared for all this when I set out to make it (I was always aware of the downsides), but it’s not as easy as I thought.

There’s a lot in the game that gets very personal, especially the poetry. Although it might be metaphorical, it’s not fictional in any way. It’s all about stuff that happened to me, or people that used to be close to me. I mean, I’m literally discussing a refugee friend that lost his family and drank himself to death, and violence against women (rape, and trauma after that). None of this is easy, and it’s ridiculously personal.
When you see people, regular consumers looking to poke fun at another trash game, sending nasty comments around it can feel like they are making fun of the bad things that happened to you.
There’s an important point where you really have to separate yourself from your work. I don’t think I’m good at that yet, but it’s definitely something to work on.
Currently my advice is that if you’re making a personal game DO NOT READ THE COMMENTS, avoid lets plays, and don’t read articles written about it (unless they are from reasonable people you trust).

It’s complicated for me because I see myself as an artist. I come from a long line of artists. On my mother’s side (also the family I was close to), they were professional artists that where widely recognized.
I do insist that this is art that I’m making. I’m approaching it the same way as any artist would approach making a statement.
When an angry comment is shot my way, asking “why would you ever make a game like this?” it is kind of like asking why (pick any artist that every incorporated political commentary into their work) made what they made.
If games are supposed to be art then the medium would be ready for very different experiences, but I’m seeing now that there is lots of work left to carving out that space.
I am so grateful for all the journalists that cover this stuff in an intelligent manner, as well as the festivals dedicated to giving this stuff a voice.
Another interesting observation is that people are comfortable, or OK, with games that are weird for the weirdness sake, but if it’s weird while making a statement it does make some people (more than I’m used to) angry/uncomfortable.

The weeks after this have been an amazing blessing, but very hard at the same time. The game has received an overwhelming amount of positive comments, but I’ve also received some difficult ones. I think for something like this you have to really focus on the positive reception, and avoid the negativity (things meant to tear you down) at all costs. Especially if your work is doing something like opening up darker moments in your life to comment on how abuse, and power, in our society works.

I don’t know. I’m writing this to encourage myself, as well as encourage others thinking of doing something like this. I think it would be very wrong to allow bullies to dictate what games we make, and how games are allowed to be art. If you are thinking of making a personal game, be aware of these pit falls, but also understand that it will mean a lot to many people… Ok. I’m telling myself this too. :)

I’m hoping to write more as I get a better understanding on how to approach all this. The game is down to 4 pages left! I’m very excited to have gotten this far. It’s been one crazy journey! :D
“Everything is going to be OK” is one of those games where this could be my last game and I would be happy to have been able to say what I said with it. These are things I wanted to get off my chest for a long time.