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15-03-11

thedereksmart Mar 11th, 2015 (edited) 7,075 Never
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  1. I am not going to write any lengthy tome about how much I love this industry; about how much I abhor the ass clowns trying to ruin it; about how the crazy loons among you need to find something productive to do with your collective lives less ordinary; or even about how I fully intend to finish this here Ham sammich by the end of this post.
  2.  
  3. No, none of that is going to happen. At least not today.
  4.  
  5. What I do want to tell you is that my support for the IGDA remains as it was from back when I joined it decades (!) ago and right up to my going the extra step to become a Lifetime Member.
  6.  
  7. But first, some preamble, because this is one massive sammich.
  8.  
  9. I have been developing games for over twenty-five years. Before that, I was a gamer. Last time I checked, I have been involved in gaming for almost four (!) decades (!!). Do you know many years that is? Go check; I'll wait.
  10.  
  11. So when I tell you that I have a lot vested in this industry and that I have been in it for longer than most of you have had hot dinners, or long before you grew hairs in places you never thought hair could even grow, believe it.
  12.  
  13. That sort of tenure comes with a lot of perks, most of which include knowing where all the skeletons (and in some cases entire cemeteries) are buried, knowing the right people - and knowing your place in this giant machine that is the "gaming industry".
  14.  
  15. Like most, I've had my knocks, took them like the man that I am, while never shying away from being steadfast in what I believe in. This not only includes my work (lauded by many, hated by those guys over there), but also in the great people that I have come to meet, know, love and respect.
  16.  
  17. In my business, relationships are everything; which is why when someone goes off the deep end and burns a bridge, I just laugh. Amateurs. I'm that guy who not only burns the bridge, but I go back, inspect the carnage, then take away all the rubble just to ensure that the bridge never gets built again; at least not without a lot of work. I take no prisoners. Being outspoken, while at the same time being knowledgeable, respectful, fair and for the most part, ignoring anything that even looks, smells or tastes like politically correctness, requires a lot from a person.
  18.  
  19. I have a reputation for being a no-nonsense kinda guy; the outspoken part is just a side effect.
  20.  
  21. People don't scare me.
  22.  
  23. No, what scares me is the very notion that I could wake up one morning and this, all of this, everything I've worked so very hard for and to be a part of, could be gone or changed for the worse. That's what scares me because then I'd have to, you know, go find a "real" job because apparently the general consensus is that #gamedev is not even a "real" job.
  24.  
  25. Which is precisely why, for as long as this #GamerGate bullshit has been going on, I have refused to take sides. People have stopped asking me why that is because my response has always been, why choose a side in a conflict that affects us all? Why not LISTEN to both sides, meet somewhere in the middle - and end up with meaningful and reasonable discourse?
  26.  
  27. But no, that's just too easy for people (look up anarchist) who don't give a toss about you, me or the industry; they just want to watch the world burn. And THEY are the ones who have completely and utterly shaped this narrative that has seen, for the first time in our gaming history, a hashtag and everyone one in it, being accused of being a hate group.
  28.  
  29. It was bullshit then. It's bullshit now. And that's never going to change. Why?
  30.  
  31. Well, as I said yesterday, when you relegate a group of people to nothing short of anarchists or nincompoops, refuse to listen or even engage in meaningful discourse, then accuse the majority of being something they are not, you shouldn't be surprised at the fallout. It's madness. Nobody wins. Instead, those who feel disenfranchised just dig in.
  32.  
  33. Since day one, both sides have known - without any doubt - that I am firmly in the neutral zone. But unlike other "neutrals", I don't get attacked, I don't get yelled at, I don't get derided or anything of the sort. Why is that? Probably because, as an old school gamer and someone who KNOWS what it's like to be on the receiving end of bullshit, I tend to listen. I fashion my responses in a manner that speaks to those who find it worthy of a read.  I talk TO people who want me to listen.
  34.  
  35. Yeah some people who refuse to have meaningful discourse tend to lash out when they are faced with people who don't agree with them or who discount what they're saying.
  36.  
  37. Trolls and anti-social misfits, you can ignore; but when faced with reasonable discussion, it is foolish to ignore and/or discount people just because you don't like the majority.
  38.  
  39. It's a funny thing when you come to realize that some of the fun parts of your social media engagement, comes from people in a hashtag. I am proud to be one of those people engaging a hashtag because it is as eye opening as it is educational.
  40.  
  41. Anyway, when two sides are in a conflict and are dug in, there is seemingly no "out" if you leave people with nothing to lose or gain. When you do that, nobody wins. Which is why, there are lawsuits because mediation is largely a waste of everyone's time if you already have your mind made up about what you want instead of what you can get.
  42.  
  43. During the course of this whole #GamerGate fracas, both sides of the conflict pretty much declared open season on gamers, gamedevs and the gaming media, and with no reservations as to the damage that is being done, not only to all of us, but also to the very ecosystem that is "gaming".
  44.  
  45. If you thought that both sides declared open season on each other, you're sadly mistaken. Think about it and show me one single instance in which either side has done any sort of damage to the other and what the ramifications of that are or were.
  46.  
  47. Let that sink in before you continue reading.
  48.  
  49. Now you see why my stance remains as it was and unchanged. This is a "war" that cannot be won because both sides are unwittingly (or in the case of the aforementioned trolls and anarchists, intentionally) waging war on gaming. That's really the long and short of it. And all that misogyny, harassment of women, accusations that SJWs are minions of Satan himself etc, are just more egregious weapons in this war wielded by a bunch of people with seemingly nothing to lose.
  50.  
  51. And in much the same way that both sides seek out and pick a target of opportunity regardless of merit, it is the same way that those targets continue to be the focus of a protracted extension of the war.
  52.  
  53. Which brings me to this protracted onslaught against the IGDA, it's members and the people who run it.
  54.  
  55. Most of the people who are engaging in this attack mode conduct, don't even know what the IGDA does, why it was formed or even how it's run. This despite the fact that the org's charter is not only public knowledge, but as a non-profit, it has to adhere to very strict rules, regulations and guidelines.
  56.  
  57. First things first, the IGDA is not a union. It's not a feel good group. It's an advocacy group. In other words, if you need a hug, call your mom, don't go to the IGDA. Unless of course you really do need an IGDA mandated hug. In which case, you can get one if you just show up at a local IGDA group meeting. Just don't go hugging everyone, as that would be weird. Especially to someone like me who isn't the touchy-feely type.
  58.  
  59. Second, for as long as the IGDA has been around, unless I missed something, it was being run by mere mortals who, more often than not, are likely to make mistakes great and small.
  60.  
  61. Who can remember that cringe-inducing 2013 party fiasco? Or the blockbot fracas months back? I could go on and on; and those aren't even the best ones; because those, they, like most corps, tend to just figure it out internally before it all goes nuclear.
  62.  
  63. I have been involved with the IGDA for as long as I've been around. I have been a clueless n00b, a local board chapter member, a sponsor, that guy who asks the awkward questions at group meetings, that guy people come to listen to talk up a room, that guy who lingers at the show booths looking important and for no apparent reason, that guy who walks around with the Lifetime Member show badge like it was important or something, that guy who claps the loudest at the honoring of my friends and peers at show events etc. I've run the gamut. But never - not once - in all those decades, have I ever harbored the thought that something that I believe in was anything but authentic or wasn't acting in the best interests of my industry and gaming in general.
  64.  
  65. Not once.
  66.  
  67. But then again, most people don't know what loyalty is. Or they tend to confuse it with blind (see sheep) loyalty. I was raised right. I know what loyalty is and I know what it's like to believe in and chase your dreams until they come true.
  68.  
  69. The thing about discourse is that when you take away the reason and motivation for someone to engage you in discussion, you leave them with no choice but to either disengage or discount anything and everything you have to say. Which is why it's difficult for anyone on the receiving end of a protracted attack to offer up any sort of explanation or defense because it would be meaningless and either discounted or used as fodder for more attacks.
  70.  
  71. In the last round of IGDA targeted attacks, it came to my attention that the IGDA, via Kate Edwards, the ED, was being accused of some highly questionable and ***legally*** actionable conduct. Serious stuff. Lawsuit type stuff. Especially for a non-profit.
  72.  
  73. Given the seriousness and nature of the allegations and knowing that nobody, least of all the IGDA in its official capacity, was going to respond, I took it upon myself to get to the bottom of it. Why? Well, if you're asking yourself that, then you haven't been paying any attention.
  74.  
  75. To be honest, the only reason that I even decided to go roust up a lot of connected people, was not because I believed any of what had been written. No, it was because I wanted to make 100% certain that some background info that I already knew, was still accurate and hadn't changed before yesterday.
  76.  
  77. The allegations are 100% bullshit and have no merit. Here is the historical connection.
  78.  
  79. Kate Edwards owned a consulting firm long before she came to the IGDA. That firm even underwent a name change for the simple reason being that she liked the new name and because it fit better with what what work she was focused on.
  80.  
  81. When Kate came to the IGDA, instead of hiring her, as a person (standard W2 employment), the contract (it's not an employment contract as you might think) is with her firm. In other words, a 1099-Misc contractor.
  82.  
  83. The only connection between the IGDA and her firm, is related to the work that the IGDA hires her to do, that being, running the IGDA. Nothing more, nothing less. She wasn't hired to babysit your feelings, give you a hug or send you flowers. She was hired to run the IGDA and act as per the charter and guidelines - most of which pre-date her time there.
  84.  
  85. If you know anything about how the corporate world works, then you should immediately know that this is nothing new.
  86.  
  87. There is no capacity under which Kate would be funneling, let alone co-mingling, IGDA and her firm's funds.
  88.  
  89. There is no scenario whereby Kate's firm would be giving money to the IGDA in any capacity other than to submit, as I would expect, expense reports for reimbursement.
  90.  
  91. There is no scenario under which the IGDA, as a non-profit mind you, would be funneling funds to Kate's firm other than for the aforementioned services rendered.
  92.  
  93. Now that we've established that, let's talk about the bigger picture.
  94.  
  95. How much of an outcry would there be if the US govt. were to hire a third-party firm to run an op; a third-party firm whose business it is to run such an op and not just for the US govt.
  96.  
  97. Kate doesn't own the IGDA and she certainly doesn't have the clout to act with impunity or in ignorance of procedures, let alone the law.
  98.  
  99. On what planet is it that Kate's firm, being hired to run the IGDA, puts it in a conflict of interest scenario? And in any circumstance?
  100.  
  101. How many idiots do you think run the IGDA? I can't think of any.
  102.  
  103. A better question would be, have you seen the caliber of people who run the IGDA, who are on the board, head of chapters etc? Do these people (I was one of them mind you) come across as being able to function in a hive mind environment? Let alone for free (!)?
  104.  
  105. I was having a Twitter engagement about statements made by Darius (who was on the board of directors back then) back in 2013. In that, some people have been passing those statements as "evidence" that the IGDA is corrupt, is not acting on behalf of the gaming industry, blah, blah, blah.
  106.  
  107. It's all a lot of fabricated, conjecture laden bullshit. Let me touch on just the titbits.
  108.  
  109. 1) “Fiduciary responsibility” and the Status Quo
  110.  
  111. The fiduciary responsibility to any organization, especially a non-profit, is standard procedure and, as a matter of fact, is the Status Quo for anyone who runs a business, not just non-profits.
  112.  
  113. He called it "an incredibly fucked up concept — particularly when it’s considered more important than the actual mission of the organization".
  114.  
  115. Yeah, so what? The entire US political system, is equally regarded as one "fucked up concept" in and of itself. And don't even get me started on the justice system. Need I go on?
  116.  
  117. Once you actually own - and run - a company where you are responsible for what happens to it, as well as the lives of the people who run it, you will immediately begin to understand what "responsibility" actually means. But if you're just earning a paycheck, while someone else has to make the hard choices, it's easy to be that fly on the wall and completely detached from it all. Because, hey look, paycheck.
  118.  
  119. You don't have to like it, but not liking it has no relevance as to whether or not it works or not. Judging by the fact that the IGDA has been around for this long, should be a clue as to whether or not it actually does work or not.
  120.  
  121. 2) Enforced austerity
  122.  
  123. "By continuously repeating that fiduciary responsibility is the primary responsibility of a board member (rather than doing things that are on-mission for the org), the IGDA Board lives in a state of internally-enforced austerity. Even when we have extra money, that money is either saved rather than spent, or it is spent on maintaining the status quo. Financial stability is always chosen over the material interests of the individual developers the IGDA is supposed to represent."
  124.  
  125. I don't know about you, but I own and run two multi-million dollar corporations; one of which I've run for over two decades. Aside from my responsibilities to my employees and contractors, the primary goal of any entity is to act in the best interests of the entity as well as its customers and employees/contractors.
  126.  
  127. When it comes to a non-profit, that responsibility is clearer and with no room for ambiguity. Save more; spend less; do it wisely if you want to stay solvent.
  128.  
  129. And for the record, I was one of those who incessantly complained - repeatedly - about the sorry state of the website (the example that he used for his austerity missive).  The bottom line is that when you have $2 and the choice is between a Hamburger or plain bread and butter, you'd be surprised just how good plain bread and butter tastes when you know you can get another one tomorrow with the change you have left.
  130.  
  131. Back when the missive was written, most of us were shaking our collective heads about the whole thing really. So it's weird that almost two years later, a blog that a board of director member wrote, is becoming the talking point for what to use to attack the IGDA. Seriously, this is what we've come to now?
  132.  
  133. In conclusion (I ran out of sammich quite a bit ago), these protracted attacks and allegations against the IGDA, not to mention Kate, are unfounded, without merit and have no basis in reality.
  134.  
  135. And they need to stop. Like, right now. Let's go back to arguing about "ethics in game journalism" because these distractions are just that, distractions.
  136.  
  137. That is all.
  138.  
  139. Love
  140.  
  141. Your favorite Internet Warlord (seriously, I was called that yesterday)
  142.  
  143. ps: And no, as I said yesterday, I have absolutely no intentions of burning my IGDA card. In fact, I'm just going to go give them money; and so should you if you really like and support  gaming. So in case you missed it, here it is again.
  144.  
  145. https://twitter.com/dsmart/status/575411212495798274
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