17 March 2011

The Flip Side of the Coin - by Ryan Creighton


i feel like i set off a firecracker in the Internet boys' bathroom with my story of how gosh-darned clever i was, lying and cheating my way to GDC rant victory.  i posted the article Saturday night, and by early Sunday morning, i'd been featured on the front pages of Reddit, Hacker News, PCGamer, and Kotaku.  Two days later, the story was on Gamasutra and Ars Technica.




There's a flip side to everything you see at events like GDC. This year marked my sixth trip to the hallowed halls of gamedom. Over the years, i've seen mobile game development crawl up from the abyss to a privileged position as the only thing anyone ever talked about at the conference.  i've witnessed the rapid rise and fall of kids' virtual worlds, the decline of the casual downloadable market, the explosion of digital distribution, and the Godzilla-like devastation wrought by the likes of Zynga.
The people who take the mic at GDC are almost always the people with success stories to share. These are the people who draw the crowds and the numbers.  But the success they tout in their sessions may not be all it's cut out to be, and it may not even last until the following year's conference.


Pair o' Dice Lost


For example, one year i heard a guy speak about all the money he'd made on his game. i was impressed, and more than a little jealous.  i thought "man, what i wouldn't give to have all that money."  And then i envisioned all the things i'd do with it: giant robot races, playroom made of Nerf, Rolls Royce that plays "Dixie" when you honk the horn ... and despite myself, before i even realized what was happening, i started vigorously rubbing my thighs. By the time i snapped out of it, i was being asked to leave the conference hall.
The next year, i learned that the very same guy who'd hit it so big with his game was on the financial ropes, and that his house was in foreclosure.

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