The Last Worthless Evening

Don’t take that attitude with me, young man. 

There’s a blog post for my personal site coming up on Twitter’s continued attempts to curb ‘noise’ on their platform, and how it’s no different in reality than spam filters and nuisance phone callers. That’s not why I’m here this morning, however: I wrote a post on the other site yesterday on how compromise is an inevitable part of any process, and it sent me off in various differing directions. One of them concerns writing itself, and how sometimes what you envision with a piece is not what you’ll end up producing. There is a phenomenal amount of compromise in working for somebody else, for starters, and that’s probably the reason why I prefer to work alone whenever possible. However, without that compromise, often there is no real progress.

I do work now for a number of different organisations and the editing process for each is different. One has a strong bias to using the Internet’s own search robots, another has more of a focus towards transparent explanation of editing processes, and so on. Mostly it’s all down to the people wielding the scalpels at the other end and not me. I just provide the ideas: how that is subsequently transmitted to its final destination can often vary wildly from place to place.The same is undoubtedly true with game design, when I think about it: there’s an initial ‘concept’ and then comes the business of taking that and inserting it into an existing structure. So, what I envisage at the start of a piece could have subtly altered by the time it makes it to ‘live’, and it often does. I try not to get upset about this, and accept that both criticism and alteration becomes an often essential part of the journey.

There is a lot that can be learned by grasping the counsel of others.

You say that NOW… ^^

The problem that a lot of writers seem to have when their own work’s on the table is taking criticism. You just have to look at Twitter as a short form to understand just how complicated and explosive a contrary opinion can be on probably a minute by minute basis. In fact, if you consider what happened when the company itself announced a change that many people had been happily using for months? The End of All Things will probably cause less trauma when it happens, mostly because nobody will be left to be critical of its execution. Half the problem is the way in which things happen, and then the ‘who should we actually blame’ game begins and frankly, it’s just horrible to watch. I felt totally sorry for the totally innocent Twitter developer who got pulled into the argument last weekend: yes, he may have written the code, but he’s not the one directing Twitter’s financial management. Saying ‘well if it’s going to be destructive, you shouldn’t do what you’re asked’ isn’t exactly an alternative either. Yes, this could work in some situations, but honestly? If you want to blame someone, go find the people in charge. They listened last weekend, and now everybody has an opt out. Crucially however, that change has still gone live. You didn’t stop it.

However, sometimes you can affect change via protest.

From sky.com
Liverpool fans were capable of reversing a decision by American owners to increase ticket prices, a climb down which will undoubtedly have ramifications across the Premier League. The very visual and damning way in which 10,000 people left didn’t really help the team either: a 2-0 win became a 2-2 draw, and you have proof that sometimes grand gestures make the point. However, if people keep paying money to purchase stuff, and don’t vote with their feet, how does anyone know there is a problem. It was a point I made today in a couple of places too: complaining that too much money is spent on in game purchases isn’t the company’s problem, its yours. The company offers the product, you choose to buy it, and saying it should be cheaper doesn’t really work when they’ve already got you to part with your cash for a physical copy of the game, often months before it goes live. If enough individuals genuinely said ‘fuck this, we’re not coughing up’ you can absolutely bet that would affect the marketplace. Thats why contentious games often travel the Kickstarter/crowd-funding route these days, just to check there really is a market to begin with.

Eventually, large corporations get the message. Cadbury’s Creme Eggs, for instance, is a great example of how one organisation grasped that taste matters more than simply selling a product. It isn’t just about doing the same old thing over and over, if people actually complain correctly. The problem is with video games, no two people have the same particular issue, and that means that a mass walkout’s only likely if everybody can agree on an issue.

If you don’t like what a company is doing? You need to learn to complain about it better.