I have a short, personal story I would like to share with my friends here at the TC, one very much related to this subject.
In 2006 at the LA convention center, in a very crowded food court with my friends, eating our $14 “value” combo consisting of a ball park hot dog and red cup-o-soda, a man approached our table and asked to sit with us. Inconspicuously, he sat eating his “Value” dinner, drinking his Cola, quietly listening to my friends and I who were having a very heated discussion about Zelda’s virginity. As we approached the subject of its relevancy, the man chimed in, giving us his input and facetiously contributing to our already ridiculous argument. Exhausted, and tired from the walking and meetings, none of us were in any rush to get back to work, and he seemed to share the same motivations as us. We continued to discuss (inappropriately) many game related subjects for about 2 hours until the man stood up and said “I have to go earn my pay, had tons of fun talking” and walked away.
This is certainly a normal experience at almost any convention or expo, nothing about our situation is unique, or was our conversation legitimately better than anyone else’s. What makes this story, or in my case the experience “special,” is that we knew he was Cliff Bleszinski the second he sat down. My friends and I later talked about how we figured that he didn’t have time and just had to eat and run and didn’t want to be bothered. None of us considered he would want to talk, much less contribute like any other gamer, even calling out errors and sparking memories of long forgotten games.
What’s the point of this story? Well…There’s a lot of judging in the industry towards devs, mostly originating from ones love/hate of a game. It’s frustrating, I think some devs/directors/personalities get too much respect when they don’t deserve it, and too little when they do. One of the best examples of a gaming personality/designer who is hated for the wrong reasons is Cliff Bleszinski. Many hate him just because they think he’s not a gamer, and that’s just ignorance, others call him a “dude bro” simply because his most popular game is about strong, male characters (characters who in my opinion are amongst the best fleshed out this generation by far). He recently had a keynote at PAX and I encourage all who think he’s just another rich white guy, in a bureaucratic suit, to watch it. Sometimes I think we look at game personalities like they are all Bobby Kotick, or on the other extreme, Gabe Newell. Every developer, every designer, CEO, etc. are individuals, people deserving of at least our neutrality until they themselves prove otherwise. This is a unique industry, unlike others, you have to actually love what you do to become successful otherwise your consumers can see when its void of emotion, WE know when you put love into it (Dragon Age), and we know when you don’t (Dragon age 2).
“Its easy to write article after article about what they do wrong”
This is my 2 cents on the negativity surrounding the “suits” of gaming. I don’t like how people are demanding games to be changed (Mass Effect 3), people forced to leave (Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk), and reviewers fired because of a unfavorable review (Jeff Gerstmann). This editorial started as a comment, but turned into a rant about gamers (us) dehumanizing these wonderful people, and I feel that we do it too often. Its easy to write article after article about what they do wrong, I just wanted to write one saying, “No one is perfect, I may not like X game, but a respect your effort, and your commitment. Thank you!”
Editors Note: I’m Only mentioning Cliffy as an example, and because of my personal experience. I’m not saying you have to like him, his games, or any of his personality, but as gamers he has earned our respect. The conversation I had with him was the same I would expect to have with any of you. This “comment” was stirred up after watching his PAX Key Note. I’d like to share it. If you watch this and don’t come away thinking “yeah, he’s a gamer.” I don’t think we are in agreement of what the word “gamer” means.