Getting Out of the Status Game

2008 Jan 30

Jason Morningstar started a great thread on Knife Fight about the status games and internal politics that occasionally appear in some parts of the American indie game community / scene. I think many folks are quick to stomp on factionalism and clique forming. I still remember Luke Crane being all like “Fuck that jazz” when I brought up sentiments like that one time, saying I didn’t feel a part of things and wanted to form my own club or something. He was totally right.

In response to Jason, I wrote:

…I’ve been fighting against this for a while. My tactics have included.

1) Leave the Forge and stop worrying about my (lack of) status there. It was driving me crazy feeling like I wasn’t being heard.

2) Start blog and do own thing. Care less about getting feedback and attention.

3) Start Story Games Boston. Spend more time playing and (IMPORTANT!) designing games for real, local people instead of an imaginary audience on the internet who will some day love me.

4) At GenCon 2007, be a full-time IGE/GOD booth person, not a sales booth person. Hang out less with other designers in a sales context. Instead: play more games with more people. Stop caring about how many copies of Push I sold. Stop talking to people about new products that were coming out. Stop caring so much about publishing.

5) As of 2008, stop all commercial activities related to games. I’m giving stuff away, fullstop. I don’t want my value to be measured by how many products I have in print or how many copies I’ve sold. For me, not being involved in game sales is pretty much the easiest way to make that happen. Stuff will be posted online when I feel like it and updated when I get around to it. That’s publishing.

I’m looking forward to returning to the IGE/GOD booth at GenCon this year. Best decision I ever made: to get out of sales. Play is where it is; play is what it’s all about; play is where everyone is equal, where I can sit down with Vincent and two folks I’ve just met and have a great game, with nobody giving a damn who’s done what. Thank god for that.

In a nutshell, my solution: talk less, sell less, care less, play more.

5 Responses to “Getting Out of the Status Game”

  1. Jmstar Says:

    I like your approach a lot. I’m starting to feel similar pressures and don’t want to have a community-severing crisis of conscience, you know?

  2. I think all of us so-called game designers ought to read and really think about this stuff. Thanks for highlighting it.


  3. Jason: Yeah. I basically decided I had to change communities or change my approach, and the community is too awesome and important to give up.

    Adaen: Glad this is helpful. Honestly, I’m not sure I could have come to this place without navigating the jungle of sales first, but I’m much happier now.

  4. Keith Says:

    Good for you man. Focusing on sales and shit has it’s place, but not if you are trying to push things in new and interesting directions for yourself.

  5. Thanks, Keith. It’s interesting to see that a bunch of us are having similar thoughts after being less than satisfied with the current state of indie commercial publishing. I’ve enjoyed reading and learning from your perspective.

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