observations about my “Day of the Devs” article & thoughts after harassment over a post that’s about harassment

Earlier last week VentureBeat / GameBeat reached out to me and asked if they could re-publish my Day of the Devs article. In it I described my experience showcasing the game at Day of the Devs, and the douchey behavior from the crowd.

The article was titled “YouTube culture is turning kids against art games”. The title was suggested to me and I okayed it. I understood the consequences. I’m not good with article titles… as this current blog post’s title demonstrates. This recommendation seemed fair.

I do suggest that you read my original post (all the way through, before attacking me. also try playing the game before attacking me).
To clarify accusations, the interaction with the crowd there wasn’t just dislike of the game. My games can be disliked. That’s fine. There’s a type of game for everyone, and I’m happy to politely disagree. The interaction I’m describing there was outward rudeness. It was gross and not something I would want any other developer to encounter. I couldn’t hang around the booth because it was intimidating, and I don’t see myself as someone that intimidates easily.
I don’t think it’s excusable to openly ridicule a game and the developer.

I make a point to recount this because, as things are when you criticize a toxic part of gaming culture, the internet kindly illustrated the point by having a conniption over it.
Ironically I received much of the same treatment that I received while showing the game, as well as plenty of other harassment.
There are videos now questioning my sanity, and demonstrating the behavior that my original article brought into question.

(sharing this one because the comments to this tweet are all great examples)

I follow up my original post to clearly reiterate. After all this I think that Streamer and Youtube culture really is causing harm to the way people perceive and talk about art games. My original stance after Day of the Devs was that Streamers paint these games in a light where it’s OK to ridicule them, and write them off as “lol acid, stupid pretentious art game, what the fuck is this…” It comes off as public shaming.
I said that because this is exactly what happened in the showcase.
I’m going to keep making this point until I stop being attacked over it.

Since saying the following also pisses them off I feel obligated to bring it up…
The game industry can be very sexist, and being a woman in it is difficult. It will often make you a target by default. We need to be aware of what minorities go through, and give them a voice. We can make games a better, more inclusive place.

Ok, back to my previous point…

New Normative has this brilliant quote:

“When ‘lol acid’ is the default response to any art that blurs realism’s sharply defined edges, it’s worth examining where the baseline expectation for normality is being sourced.”

Judging by the “thank you for writing this” reactions from other developers that create different alt/art games, I know I’m not alone. It’s not pleasant to watch what you’ve spent a large portion of your free time, life, and passion on, being laughed at and written off as some sort of petty mistake. As if these games just get made without any thought or underlying philosophy.

Many of us are here because we believe that games are a medium of personal expression. They are art to us. This is something we are exploring and pushing the medium toward. It’s not too much to ask that what we create be taken into a more critical light beyond “what the fuck is this bullshit, lol acid.”
If this is something that’s a joke to you, then maybe reconsider why you play these games.
From my point of view it looks like they are a stepping stone to inflate a bloated internet personality with.

I realize that all this has painted me as some sort of “enemy of let’s plays”. I really don’t care about how I’m seen. What I do care about is harassment (online and off). There are plenty of Streamers, Let’s Players, and Youtubers that I like a lot. I loved it when SirTapTap played through the earlier version of “Everything is going to be OK”. It was fun, and respectful. Even though some of the same jokes were made it wasn’t to degrade the game, and for me that’s the big difference. Why would you play something just to shame it?
I also like Geek Remix. They played my stuff, and even though they went the “lol acid” joke direction, again it wasn’t derogatory. I laughed pretty hard watching them play Anatomically Incorrect Dinosaurs. It also didn’t spur trolls to come after me.
I also very much love Kintinue. I could keep going…
Also, Liz has a much more intelligent list compiled here.

I am not new to Streamer and Youtube culture. I’m a game developer. My game “Anatomically Incorrect Dinosaurs” “went viral” because of youtubers playing it. It wasn’t covered as extensively in the game press. I appreciate this exposure, but at the same time I very much disliked how some of the “big” personalities presented the game. It was hard to watch. I tended to avoid it. The most notable was when one of them started joking about my mental state and that they wouldn’t want to know the dev of this game.
I honestly wouldn’t care this much, but seeing that this bleeds into real life and affects how these games are treated outside of the internet, I think this sort of behavior should be brought into question.

For example, one big issue here is that, during development of “Everything is going to be OK”, Vinesauce played the game. I sincerely dislike it when they stream my games. If I had a choice I would ask them not to. Aside from just being rude, superficial, and using these different games to pander toward their superiority complex, I get enough hate/trolling from their followers afterwards for it to be an uncomfortable experience. No, it’s not just mild “I don’t like this game” comments, it’s (like I keep saying) full harassment and personal attacks. This happened both times they played my games (Anatomically Incorrect Dinosaurs, and “Everything is going to be OK”). I mean, really, they’re not even playing the game, they’re just shouting over it.

I think the way these games (art games) are portrayed by these larger personalities invites trolling. Based on what just happened to me (as well as throughought development of “Everything is going to be OK”) this is a problem. I think it’s going to continue to be a problem. It’s not constructive. It hurts the medium because it keeps it stuck in the bro culture that satiates it.
Saying that I’m just upset because people don’t like my game is ridiculous. I’m upset because it has caused me to be harassed (offline and on). Disliking something is one thing, going after the developer is another.

I really think that our discourse around this can be better. Art games have a place, and they deserve intelligent critical discussion. Even if the point of Let’s Playing it is to have fun and yell “lol acid”, maybe follow up with why you also like it. They don’t have to be painted in this dismissive light they currently are in.


In other news… I have decided to add the “missing pages” to “Everything is going to be OK”. I have a very long, heartfelt, and way too openly personal post about why I’m doing that here. It’s worth reading because of its relevance. It says everything I want to say.