There’s been a fair amount of reporting over the last few days about a number of ‘controversial’ matters concerning the IGF. It was all ignited when a certain developer discovered that the IGF judges barely took a look at their game when judging it for the competition. A lot of arguments were triggered between some key IGF folks and some indie developers who weren’t happy with the IGF’s procedures. Most of it was about the apparent unfairness of the judging and of the competition in general, some arguing that not everyone was given an equal chance. Some form of controversy like this happens every year.
A lot of anger was spewed concerning Polytron Corporation’s re-entry of Fez into the competition, having already won an award in 2008. The IGF organizers have said that re-entries will not happen again in the future though, so hopefully that has calmed a few heated people.
All of that is something we would like to steer clear of to be honest, merely because it doesn’t really involve us at all so we’re not going to intervene when we don’t need to. Some refer to it as “scene drama” and yes the expanding of the indie scene is coming with some growing pains it would seem. However, these arguments seem to have blown over into something entirely unrelated – the GDC Pirate Kart.
There’s no definite point where this come about, but the Pirate Kart‘s organizer, Mike Meyer, seemed quite upset that the “Pirate Kart was seen by some as a direct protest against Fez’ re-entry” (source) or, as Phil Fish of Polytron puts it, “a big ‘Fuck You’ to the IGF”.
After reading this, Mike tweeted, “Something is way wrong with this festival/community if trying to be a part of it is seen as protesting.”
We do seem to have a problem here, especially when you cross reference it to what Mike says and what we have come to know what the Pirate Kart is about. He held a microtalk during GDC that outlines what his meaning with the Pirate Kart is, you can read it all here, but let’s take some extracts:
“Together, you and I will bring the true spirit of indie gaming back. Yes, you! For this site is about nothing, if it is not about getting off your ass and creating.”
“It doesn’t matter if you’ve got talent, so long as you’ve got gusto. Your game does not have to be coherent — but it does have to be finished.”
“I’m still trying to figure out how to get that message out to people who aren’t already in game development communities. Indie Game: the Movie was fucking amazing and will help with that, but it also only shows game development as something that consumes your life and I think it’s important to show that making games can be a very casual thing and you don’t have to destroy yourself to do it.”
“One of the things we need to do differently is we need to stop expecting that because they are joining US in OUR hobby that they need to do it the way we do. Don’t think “us vs. them” and don’t think that just because we are the game development community, that we get to decide what making games should be like. We need to welcome games that don’t seem like “real” games and ways of making games that aren’t “real” game development.”
As you can clearly read, the Pirate Kart philosophy and cause for being is concerned only for game development and its spread in what can be understood as a truly independent manner. The idea that anyone can make a game by themselves is the message, one that is also inspired within Anna Anthropy‘s upcoming book Rise of the Videogame Zinesters (which is fantastic by the way).
What has happened is that Anna and Mike are being seen as ringleaders of an angry Pirate Kart army, where in fact those feelings they hold are entirely separate to what the Pirate Kart is and do not inform its being at all.
We’re not taking sides here because there are no “sides”. There’s no conflict going on, at least between the Pirate Kart and anything else there isn’t. There may be conflict coming from its organizers to some extent, but that shouldn’t be interpreted to be part of the Pirate Kart and certainly not as any form of “protest”.
Now, let’s all just breathe a little, release this tension and celebrate indie games as we’re supposed to be doing, yeah?