Thursday, August 04, 2005

Great Stuff from Clinton

Clinton worries that the Forge has "lost the mission," explaining:

The mission is this:
  • Learn that you can write a game as good as any out there.
  • Write it.
  • Play it.
  • Get others interested and get them to play it.
Where'd the "indie" in "" go? When did we lose sight of the above?
I'm really interested lately in the notion that our culture suffers really badly from fetishizing professionalism and expertise, with the result that we render ourselves creative cripples, not believing in our own power to create what we want if we don't meet some arbitrary standard of expertise (a standard that is always adjustable so no matter how good you are you can always imagine you're not good enough).

People sometimes react against that problem by becoming interested in either creating or appreciating "alternative" or "indie" art -- they're thrilled by the realization that the "big guys" don't have a monopoly on creation. Linux and the like started this way. "Alternative" music did too. Several times. It happens again and again.

The problem is that people take the "indie" stuff and fetishize it the same way they fetishized the old professional stuff. They lose the whole point -- that there don't have to be a few virtuosos and the rest of us in a big audience. Anyone who is inclined to create can create, and by creating learn to create better. They may or may not want to spend a long time carefully learning the lessons someone else has learned, learning to do things the other person's way, because that's the way the experts do it. The ones who do may take the lessons of the "masters" and go further, go their own way; the ones who don't may go their own way and learn completely new things. Both work. Both cool.

Anyway, I sometimes see Forge talk going in the direction of creating a new elite (the Skilled and Lauded Award-Winning Indie Designers) to replace the old elite (the Published and Successful Corporate Game Designers). It annoys me and I fume about it.

And then Clinton comes along and puts it all into perspective, and I'm happy.


John Harper said...

This is a topic very near and dear to me right now. It's at least half the reason that I'm doing my current game project. In the space of 30 days, I will have a written, laid out game with art, ready for release.

It's not magic, and it doesn't take some elite genius. Anyone with the desire can do it.

Anonymous said...

What's more to the point is that there are maybe four "corporate" design houses. The rest of them really are guys working out of their homes with primary creative control over their work.

What's "indie," if most of the hobby is "indie?" Basically, for the movement to have any sort of intellectual coherence it needs to have a further agenda, because nothing about Nixon's points make indie gaming any different from most gaming, aside from those four.