Recently, on a visit to England, Chris Hecker and I did an interview with Edge magazine. It was a long interview where we spoke freely on many topics, while having a good time. Afterward, the interviewer and the editors of Edge did a very good job editing down the interview and distilling it into its salient points, without distorting the substance of the discussion.
The final result is published in Edge issue 223. I am very happy with it. It is probably my favorite interview I have done during my 15 years in the game industry. I thank Edge for the opportunity to do the interview and for their hard work in writing it up.
Because I like the interview so much, I should be happy when other news sites spread the word about it, right? Apparently it is not so. CVG just published online an article about the interview titled
They fill out their article by pasting in somewhat-out-of-context quotes to support this statement (and nothing else). To believe their account, it was a highly anti-Microsoft and pro-Sony interview. [I am not going to link to CVG's article, because I don't want to give them hits; go find it on a search engine if you want to see it.]
CVG’s article is a deceptive, manipulative piece of sensationalist crap meant to drive hits by stoking the argument between Sony fans and Microsoft fans. It misrepresents the content of the interview almost entirely. (Chris Hecker, who was half the interview, doesn’t even appear in their write-up. This alone should make it clear that they have no interest in truthful and accurate communication.)
For the record, here’s a list of the subjects Chris and I actually talked about:
- Overall trends in indie game development — where, and for how long, will indies be able to find Braid or World of Goo-sized audiences for their games?
- How it’s easier to make indie games, on the technical implementation side, than ever before.
- Small indie games versus big indie games — punk-rock-esque one-offs vs deeply exploring game design subjects.
- Indies ought to step up and produce higher-quality work rather than so many bad games and a few good ones.
- Braid is structurally a traditional game in many ways.
- The idea of game design as a stream of focused communication rather than a set of rules.
- Even the highest-selling games right now essentially sell to a niche audience.
- Innovation in mainstream games and how it helps drive the industry.
- When is an indie game really finished — how much work should you put in?
- Problems with the way video game education is set up right now.
- Most people who use the phrase “game mechanic” don’t seem to know what it means.
- How to see your game from the perspective of the player.
In the middle of all this, there is one bit about the way Microsoft and Sony, respectively, handle their portfolio strategies with regard to indie games. There are positives and negatives mentioned regarding each party. Sony does come out a bit ahead, but our discussion was much more even-handed than the confrontational CVG headline would have you believe.
Is it the case that I said the things that CVG quotes? Yes! Are they an honest representation of the content of the interview? No! They are a dishonest and manipulative way of driving hits to CVG’s web site.
Chris recently wrote about this kind of treatment at the hands of journalists, so rather than repeating him, I encourage you to go read that article. I do want to point out, though, that this is not a victimless crime.
When this kind of hack-job is written, it hurts indie developers: it harms our relationship with our business partners like Microsoft or Sony when they think that we called an interview just to trash them in public (or when they know we didn’t really do that, but they have to deal with the PR fallout of the public thinking we did, which is just as bad.) It harms my reputation with players because they think I called an interview just to make a big deal out of bashing Microsoft and generally being negative (which I did not do!) It does an injustice to people who want to read about thoughtful discussions in video games; it does this not only by failing to point out the thoughtful parts of the interview, but by injecting extra noise into the sphere of discussion, making it harder for everyone to find anything thoughtful.
But perhaps worst of all, CVG is crapping on their fellow journalists at Edge by depicting Edge’s hard work as tabloidesque junk.
Damage is clearly done, and CVG are doing this damage just so they can make a little bit of money off a few more web hits.
I encourage everyone out there to stop reading this kind of stuff. It’s just misinformation; it’s worse than worthless.