Touring Frathouses

10 Dec
December 10, 2012

“We went and did a tour… around to a bunch of, like, frathouses and places like that. People who were gamers. Not people who read IGN. And [we] said, so, have you guys heard of BioShock? Not a single one of them had heard of it.”

I would have liked to be in that meeting, when it was decided that they needed to go on tour and talk to people about Bioshock.

“Where will we go? Where is a good place to talk to customers?”

“Mmmmm….how about…frathouses? That’s where gamers hang out, right?”

“Yeah…YEAH! Crack a brewski, bro, everyone in the party bus! To Alpha Kapa Kapa House! WooOOO!!”

*smashes beer can against forehead*

Seriously?

Look, I actually respect Ken Levine quite a lot. When I read interviews like this, and there are many, I always get the feeling that the developer is trying to convince themselves as much as the readers. They’re between a rock and a hard place, they’re smart guys but they also know who pays their bills. And they don’t want to hurt their project’s chances. So they stand there trying to defend, in public, the decisions the marketing team makes behind closed doors.

I saw this kind of thing in Obsidian’s Kickstarter interviews, too. Interviewers would ask about the advantages of Kickstarting a game, and what it feels like to go sans-publisher etc. And the answer would be so very careful. Trying to convey how as a company they were ecstatic at the chance to get out of the corporate choke hold on their creativity, without alienating those publishers and souring future business dealings. A ‘we may need them again in the future so lets not step on any toes’ deal.

Like I said, I respect Levine. I don’t think he’s stupid. He must get the chicken-and-egg nature of the argument he’s using. You have to appeal to the fratboys because you’ve always focused on appealing to the fratboys in the past etc. As the headline designer and developer, he’s the primary contact point for press interviews. So it’s up to him to try to convince fans that this art direction is a good one, no matter how he feels. And maybe he’s trying to convince himself at the same time. There is certainly a “shrug, don’t look at me man” feel to his responses.

Just one of the many reasons why it’s good to be an indie. Not having to lie to myself and others.

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