“These are the vocal minority,” I used to tell myself, because I had the privilege of doing so. And I still believe that, in a sense. These are not people on the right side of history. These are not the ambassadors of the medium. These are not true crusaders for ethics (can we call them all CFEs now, pejoratively). But they are just loud enough, just vicious enough, and just representative enough to put any earnest creator or aspirant off their lunch, or off their passion. And the industry itself…well, it sees, hears, speaks no evil. The mostly-boys have deluded themselves into seeing it as some sort of righteous, monolithic, nurturing parent figure, something to be protected, something that can be scoped, understood, qualified, and quantified. I’m sure the massive, inhuman corporations are very pleased with this illusion. Such loyalty. The artists that actually make the games, even the AAA ones, are…well, artists. Make of that what you will. The mostly-boys, the CFEs, the gators, look expectantly at big papa, not realizing that it’s literally an illusion, literally a random collection of people, most of whom, on an individual level, disagree or even despise them. The relative silence, or even tacit capitulation (as on the part of Kotaku) from the Institution (with a very capital “I”) is interpreted by the CFEs as approval or endorsement.
The author is dead…and the reading takes precedence over intention. If that silence reads as approval, it acts as approval. The silent monster, the “industry,” is complicit. In its darkly dreaming, bestial, inhuman way, it probably wants the same things that the [gamer]gators do anyway (but for only one reason). It wants a compliant, reliably dry Public Relations machine for a press. It wants Patreon to go away, because then it can go back to regulating input and output with mechanical precision (payola goes in, good reviews come out…how’s that for corruption). It wants the pesky social justice issue to go away, so that making games (and making money), can be as simple, quick, and efficient as possible (push the reliable buttons, churn out the same, reliable tropes, cash comes out by the boatload, no need to think, no need to make intelligent art, no need to consider gender, sexuality, race). It wants the indie scene to wither to a dry, satellite nub, not entirely dead, but certainly subjugated, controlled. It wouldn’t toss the indies down the oubliette. It would be kind, generous even! Every once in a while, it would give us a Flower, or a Journey, or a Braid, and we’d ooh, and aah, and point to them, and say “see, see, see, it’s art!” And that will make us feel better about dropping sixty bucks on games about sociopathic cell phone hackers with wooden faces and cold, dead, serial killer eyes.
–Aleks Samoylov makes a headshot.