What This is Actually About

2010 Sep 8

A note mostly to myself, paraphrasing a recent conversation with Ryan Macklin, but also in reference to conversations with Matt Snyder and others:

“Creator ownership is (or should be) about creators having as much control as they want.”

It doesn’t mean everybody should have to self-publish as a sole proprietorship.

I think that might be the step in thinking that could take the indie roleplaying community closer to where indie comics are right now.

At least, something worth thinking about.

5 Responses to “What This is Actually About”

  1. Elizabeth Says:

    Creator ownership, by definition, is about creators owning what they’ve created.

    As I said to Ryan when he tweeted a looser idea (“indie is about creators having as much control as they want”): I’d agree but change “control” to “rights.” You can give up some or all control but maintain rights.

    It’s not always bad news to turn over control to someone else, and sometimes it’s even good for you to turn over rights to someone else, but just because it’s beneficial doesn’t mean it’s still creator-owned or “indie,” whatever the hell THAT really means.

    • Ryan Macklin Says:


      Thing is, I don’t even agree with that. I guess my deal is that as a community a lot of us get pretty pushy on what people *should* do, with ownership or rights (and I really don’t see the difference between those two, because rights are what we own). But why?

      Our subculture started as a reaction to people telling us we should sell our content to publishers as though it was the only reasonable deal. The early ones, like Ron, said “no” and made it work. Those vanguards made the decision about what they really wanted and then acted by being independent & keeping creator control/ownership/rights while not making it a mortgage-losing proposition.

      We praise the latter all the time while ignoring the former. I think that’s backwards. I praise making the right decision for an individual first and foremost.

      – Ryan

      • Elizabeth Says:

        I agree, and I agree that being pushy sucks. I do not agree that “good” and “indie” or “good” and “creator owned” mean the same thing.

  2. Brennan Says:

    It’s pretty clear that some people don’t want to be sole proprietor publishers. It’s hard, and a lot of game creators don’t want all the logistical work that goes into producing a game.

    I got good at it, but it wasn’t easy.

  3. E: Yeah, ultimately maintaining rights is important, even if you temporarily license some of them away, to a publisher or to someone who wants to make a movie about your game, or whatever.

    I was just talking to Leigh about standard practices in indie comics, among folks like Top Shelf, Fantagraphics, Oni, etc. It’s his sense that up-and-coming creators in indie comics aspire to license their work to one of the more well-known indie comics publishers, who allow them to maintain ultimate rights but license print rights for X number of years. We don’t really have those in indie rpgs yet, Evil Hat notwithstanding. But it may be about time for multiple folks to move in that direction, perhaps.

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