You know what I find the saddest part about the whole Flappy Bird incident? It stressed and confirmed two incredibly important issues that have been bugging me for a while now:
First, as an indie developer you have to be out there and indie developers are very passionate and closely connected to what they do. Projects are often very personal.
In turn it makes them free meat and an open, easy target for the gamer community. Those people who are known to be not only outspoken but equally passionate about stuff they like or hate (death threads anyone?) There is a reason big companies have dedicated people to deal with such things. Community Managers or PR people are supposed to deal with this in a professional levels. Saddly enough, even for them a backlash or negativity can be rather devastating. So for an indie developer who is not ready for such an amount of attention, be that negative or positive, it can be completely crushing.
That’s not all, the other issue is with fellow game developer and game designer or journalists having to judge a game for its merit and sheer right to exist. “Rip-off”, “not creative enough”, “not fun”, “too frustrating”! It’s the choir of those who are in the “in” right now and the choir of those who think only one type of game has a right to exist. Flappy bird obviously didn’t have the right to exist in their eyes and certainly not after the rumours of how much Nguyen made of this “abhorrence of a game”. When did we start to decide which games are better than others or have more right to exist. Just because a designer has a specific goal in mind for his game doesn’t mean another game with less of that notion has less merit or (god forbid) is automatically less fun. Any game that is fun in the eye of it’s players has a right to exist. Heck, even games that are not fun and are not successful have a right to exist because, hopefully, they will push the developer behind said game to do better next time.
It has annoyed me for quite a while now, how journalists and certain institutions influence what kind of games have more right to exist or are more valuable than others. Sure, they might be more valuable in a certain aspect but that doesn’t mean games who don’t follow suite are less interesting to the wide public or have less merit to exist. This whole tendency has become stronger and stronger and I think it’s going into a very dangerous direction when it comes to media coverage and how to get attention for your game.
In the end, it shows how everyone struggles for a piece of the cake and the nasty jealousy of fellow devs and the desperate search for hooks in stories for journalists.
I think we should all take a step back and ask ourselves why we personally are doing what we are doing and try to be more united in what we love doing, making games. Why aren’t we all just going back to make our own games and stop judging and over analysing everyone else’s? It might leave a few less victims on the way.
After all, the gaming industry has already one of the highest burn-out rates, let’s not unnecessarily contribute to this number.