Earlier this month, Thekla founder Jonathan Blow slipped by the Singapore Games Guild’s Industry Day to provide a keynote talk on indie game development. The revered, experimental designer acquired result from a conference in Taipei just, Taiwan, where he’d spoken at size about the issues he faced through the early days of working on Braid. We spoken to him about cultural variations in the indie dev picture and the role of community in indie game culture today.
After his talk, we sat down with Blow to discuss the cultural variations between your indie development scenes in Asia and the western world, and the role that community can and really should play in indie game culture today. Q: In your talk, you mentioned that many indie developers you’ve met here feel like what they’re doing isn’t real or legitimate compared to AAA companies.
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Have you observed other cultural tendencies across game neighborhoods in Asia? JB: It’s one of the primary trends that’s apparent, and it’s really easy to recognise because the united states was like that at onetime. People making 3rd party video games in Japan have ‘expanded up’ as designers in this context where there’s a long history of Japanese games.
Japan was the world head in making certain types of video games for a long period. You understand whenever a game is Japanese just. Developers there employ a recognisable tradition that they are playing from, and they can follow along or reject it, but it’s the context that they’re working in.
Whereas someone in mainland China, they don’t exactly have that. There’s been Chinese involvement in games for a long period, however, not a lot of development. The gaming console gaming industry there is mostly pirated stuff, so there’s this technique of figuring out exactly what is a Chinese video game, exactly? It’s just not as developed.
That helps it be hard for people there, because if you fall back on things that are known, it instantly feels as though an American or Japanese game. But that does mean you have plenty of expressive power as a creative individual, because you can help know what a Chinese game means. Q: Especially when it involves China, you’re basically in the heart of where mobile video gaming with microtransactions is incredibly popular. JB: You imply the addictive mechanics?
Q: Yeah. Do you think there’s any honest way to do those video games? JB: Yes. I don’t believe microtransactions are inherently unethical, but there are numerous scales. For me, the basis from it is, what’s the relationship between the developer and the player? I make an effort to speak to game developers about this, and even the ones who are doing really slimy stuff, they want to think of themselves nearly as good people. I haven’t spoken to many people in Asia concerning this, but when i speak to people in the west they become it’s complicated and hard to take into account, and I don’t believe it is.
I think it is rather simple: how do you treat the person that you’re making the game for? Q: Generally, in an Asian framework, many people don’t see games as a viable career because of money. Parents have a great deal of say over what their kids do — like focusing on something ‘real’ such as a degree in financing or something.
JB: That’s actually pretty good advice. If somebody wants to get into video games, on the specialized side, I’d say go get a computer science degree. I say that, but I fallen out of Berkeley. But I understand what you’re stating. In america, your parents want one to be a doctor or an attorney, because those will be the perceived high-status, high-paying occupations. I imagine it’s much stronger here, generally across Asia. Family ties just aren’t taken as seriously in america.
With independent games, the upside is that whenever you make a game and dispatch it, the amount that you make from that’s not capped really. It’s just, how successful is the game? In the event that you put a lousy game out really, nobody’s going to be interested. Even before Braid out came, that was true also. ONCE I was working on Braid, most people I talked to thought the game was bad, and they didn’t want anything regarding it. It was hard to get people to work on the game. If people think something is amateurish, they won’t even pay attention to it.