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April 23, 2011 / marvinhawkins

Indie Game Reality Shows, Exposure or Exploitation

I originally got the idea for this post from this article

As I write this blog, I’m currently watching one of my favorite reality shows in ABC’s Shark Tank.  The show is about entrepreneurs that are seeking funding for their products/services. It’s an interesting concept because it gives viewers a rare look inside the mind of a business owner. Like many reality shows, it features the typical human interest story, (There’s a lady on this current episode that’s spen 100k on her cake business on currently) and usually the ideas are a spark of genius. It’s both inspiring to anyone working on side projects.  Besides showing the creativity and passion of the entrepreneur, it also gives you a peek into the minds of investors.

They grill the “contestants” on things like sales, growth strategy, and profitability. While the show is probably not completely accurate to fundraising, it at least gives a lay person such as myself a general view. When I first heard about IGN’s Indie Games Open House, I was excited to see a Shark Tank style treatment of the Indie Game scene. The main idea is that media giant IGN would provide developers with office space. The deal also gave them access to IGN’s huge network, digital distribution, and more. (according to the website) This is great for the indie developers and could easily be their big breaks. Gamasutra even featured an article detailing their experience. It all seemed very positive.

When I found out that they were turning the open house into a reality show, I thought that this would be an awesome way to expose

IGN's Open House a chance to show gamers how the sausage is made

people to game development. Moreover, the reality show could expose gamers to a broader range of game experiences. Game media coverage seldom seems to focus on the individuals who are making the games. I was excited to see that IGN was out to correct that.  I expected a little bit of insider view, but the footage was more of an (In my opinion) exploitation of the craft. The first episode tasked them with coming up with a boss character. While this is a part of game design, I’m pretty sure that they could be spending valuable time on finishing their actual games.  This wouldn’t be so bad, except for the winning boss character was a MenoPausul. Dominatrix. Man Hater.

Stuff like this still causes me to get questions like: “Is making games like Grandma’s Boy?” I’ve only watched one episode, but it just smacked too much of  Sony’s The Tester. Which WAS an exploitive mess. Exposure is a good thing, but if it is mishandled, game development will never get the respect that it deserves as an entertainment industry. If gaming will ever go mainstream, those with power need to show this as the craft that it is, not some creatively bankrupt force of Mountain Dew powered keyboard jockeys. I’ll step off my soap box now, I have to go tighten up the graphics on my game anyway. (Where’s my Mountain Dew?)

I’m putting a video link to the show here, decide for yourself.


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