Today I stumbled upon a blog post that basically asked all indie and amateur game designers to stop doing what they love. As the author of said blog post put it: “Stop. Making. Games”. And as an amateur/indie designer myself I call bullshit. If you haven’t done so, please go and read the article. And then please come back.
You’ve read everything? Good.
One sentence in particular made me angry enough to start writing down my thoughts on the matter:
“These feature hobbyists, players, people who have no goddamned right to be making a game, touting themselves as ‘designers’ and putting out endless iterations of the rules that please them.”
I think there’s more than one thing that’s wrong with that article. In my humble opinion the whole premise of the blog is wrong. I don’t think the gaming industry is in a state of decline or even “rotten” as the unnamed author puts it. In fact I believe it’s more healthy and vibrant than ever. As an avid RPG fan I enjoy having the choice between hundreds of different games and I am glad modern technology makes it so easy to release your own stuff on the web. But the author of the aforementioned article thinks that is actually hurting the RPG industry. So his solution is to advise people to stop making games.
In his opinion as soon as you have to ask people for advice how to market your game, you should stop what you’re doing, because you need more money, more time and more experience than you have. In my opinion this is the worst thing that could happen to the RPG hobby and the industry. And as we all know, neither having money or experience ensures that what you do is in any way “good”.
Often the most creative and unique new games were created by amateurs and idea designers. Being inexperienced can actually help you to think out of the box and come up with new ideas, more seasoned designers never would have thought about. Of course there’s a lot of crap out there, but there are also a lot of very cool games that are worth our while. And as I said before I prefer to have the hard choice of picking the right game for me from hundreds instead of being limited to a few choices.
A world in which there are serious hurdles to overcome before you’re allowed to make your own game is a sad world indeed. In such a world, a lot of very cool games would never have been made. Luckily Mr. “Yourbusinesssucks” doesn’t have authority over all those creative amateurs out there! My advice: Never. Stop. Making. Games.
When you first think about it “We need less but better games” sounds like it makes sense, it actually doesn’t. Innovation is not achieved by limiting the choices consumers have. Having access to dozens or even hundreds of games may feel like a burden sometimes. But it’s actually something that empowers you. And it’s good for our hobby. And what is actually better? “Better” is something highly subjective. As the old saying goes: “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. You might not like that Fantasy Heartbreaker someone has written, but perhaps the next roleplayer does. Who decides what is good and what is not good? And who decides who has the “goddamned right to be making a game“?
Ultimately I think that nowadays we are much better off as ever before. If you take some time, do some research, ask a few people on the ‘net or in your circle of friends, and I am sure you’ll find the one game you like best. We might still have to figure out a way to make the hobby more accessible to newbies but limiting ourselves is not the way to go.