This Developer’s Life: Login Wrap-Up
I write at you from the exhausted throws of a sleep deprived haze. Login has come and passed. We spoke, we met fabulous people, we accidently took some of the biggest names in Asian gaming to a gay disco…
So where does that leave us? Lying half dead on the Divide by Zero conference room floor…oh and suffering from nosism.
(Points if you’re smarter than MSWord and recognize nosism as a valid vocable…OMG it doesn’t accept vocable either! Seriously Word, kill yourself.)
I had a fabulous discussion with Isaac Barry, Nick Fortugno, and Darius Kazemi, about the IGDA. I think Kazemi’s point about growing the IGDA from the ground up is dead on. We have to strengthen the individual chapters before we can expect the IGDA as an organization to take on huge issues like quality of life in the industry.
Many of developers, myself included, have held on to an IGDA card for quite some time without having it ever do anything for them beyond maybe provide a discount to GDC. If my local IGDA chapter was more active and organized get togethers or networking events - perhaps even helped people find jobs - then I would wholeheartedly support it, hell I’d even probably even get caught up in the politics behind the thing. But you’ve got to be able to throw a good party before you can effect global change...
Seriously though, if you are reading this and are a member of the IGDA (outside of Boston), contact your local chapter head and find out what’s going on in your area. Bring people out. Get your non-member friends involved.
Why? Why does it even matter that we have an IGDA? Because developers (being the people who develop) and developers (being the studios that employ those people) need a better forum for communication. We need a largely neutral third party that can insure that the both sides are treated equitably, even though the power dynamic falls largely on the side of studios.
(I speak from experience: I am one of the tyrannical sprockets in the great automata of commerce…)
Eventually I would love to see the IGDA help bridge the divide between developers and publishers (you can read that as “use group negotiation to see that independent developers get something better than subsistence level deals”…but we can’t have that, that would be dangerously close to a bizzaro meta union…)
There was a fascinating discussion about player’s rights between Erik Bethke and John Grande about property rights in MMOs… not the one on the schedule of course, but the one the day before in the speaker’s lounge.
Let me back track a little:
I had an hour to kill, there were no sessions I wanted to go to and no one wandering around who I really wanted to talk to, so I figured I’d get some work done hiding out in the lounge. There’s one person there: a fully grown man pretending to be a dancing cat in GoPets. Now, Erik and I hadn’t really met before, but we had a meeting scheduled on other business so I took a stab in the dark and asked him if he was Erik (Erik is the CEO of GoPets. If the man wasn’t Erik I had planned to back away slowly until I could make a break for it [there are plenty of legitimate and rewarding reasons to play GoPets as an adult…but if you’re doing it alone in a room at a game development convention you’re either the CEO or furry pedarast with a game development fetish]). Turns out he didn’t have an abominable ardor for fur or criminal perversions. It was indeed Erik.
For those of you who haven’t met him, Erik is a passionate guy who’s put some very deep thinking in on the topic of property rights in a digital space.
And, for those of you who haven’t met me… I’m shockingly stupid. My brain, in a willful attempt to destroy the withered husk that encapsulates it, often has a thought that goes something like this, “Thar be a hornet’s nest, perhaps we should be a’ kickin it!” (yes, my brain speaks entirely in Pirate). So, of course after a few minutes of chit chat, I ask, “Ummm, why are property rights for the player cool?”
Before he can get two words out John Grande, Erik’s opponent in the property rights debate, comes into the speaker’s lounge. After that it’s like glue, everyone who enters the speaker’s lounge just sticks around. After about twenty minutes we have notables from every sector of the industry are volleying back and forth on the issue.
Here’s my take away:
Giving players property rights for digital property increases player confidence in the value of their virtual goods, but doing so involves a fair amount of liability for the developer/publisher. To me it seems as though the ability to make real world money off in game assets is not the fundamental reason that most players decide to play massive multiplayer games, so I’d rather spend the money that I would have to use on legal services and on insurance (if I were to guarantee property rights) and spend that on development to provide players with a better game.
(Oh, and someone should fund Erik’s colonization MMO, I won’t say anything further about it since it’s his pet project, but if you know him and know about it, I thought it sounded interesting.)
I know you’re dying to hear the “Taking foreign dignitaries to a gay bar” story…too bad we’re running out of time. Bwahahahahaha (see: Kefka Laugh).
Honestly though, sometimes you’ve just got to realize, you can’t always trust your cabby…
Awesomesauce. I’m gonna jet. I’ll check in with people and see if everyone’s actually alright with me telling the story of going to Rplace with the crew from the east…it’d be so much easier to run a gossip column if I wasn’t in the biz.
As always, tell me what you’d like to see: [email protected]
Go over and visit Game Culture...they're trying to do something good with that publication, help it get off the ground.