Indie Game Devs in Car Crash Reality Show

Or how the Indies stood up to Mountain Dew and sort of won

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Indie Game Devs in Car Crash Reality Show
Recent Disney acquisition and PewDiePie vehicle, Maker Productions, want to create a reality show based on game jams for Youtube. It went badly wrong due to pressure from sponsors and a production company looking for drama.

Maker set up a production company called Polaris and reportedly spent $400,000 on making the show called Game_Jam. Reports don't show how much it recouped with sponsorship from Mountain Dew and Pepsi. It also hired a number of key indie developers, who proceeded to walk off set on Day 1 due to sexism, cameras, and corporate nastiness. The list of devs involved makes for impressive reading:

Davey Wreden - The Stanley Parable
Mark Essen - Nidhogg
Zoe Quinn - Depression Quest
Tom Jackson - Surgeon Simulator 2013
Adriel Wallick - Rock Band Blitz
Robin Arnott - Deep Sea
Cale Bradbury - the Dezert)
the Arcane Kids - Zineth)

There was also a team from the University of Southern California there.

Like other reality shows (Iron Chef, British Sewing Bee, Great British Bake Off for examples) there were also judges in the form of Youtube sensations Joe Vargas (AngryJoeShow) and former president of Thatgamecompany, Kellee Santiago.

The show's aim was the replicate the feel of an intense GameJam (an event during which developers have a limited amount of time to create a game). Unfortunately the producers and sponsors didn't understand what they were covering, and the contestants walked out. Why? Well, a mixture of things including the ban on drinking anything other than water and sponsor product; an attempt to stoke up and argument into a fight for 'drama', and this quote:

“Do you think you’re at an advantage because you have a pretty lady on your team?”

Yup, in the 21st Century in the USA one man was that stupid. According to Adriel Wallick:

"You can literally trace back the entire crumbling of this show to one individual – Matti Leshem, CEO of Protagonist, a Brand Energy company. Here was a person who, from the get-go, rubbed me the wrong way – he and I were definitely different people. He is the one who headed up removing even un-labeled water bottles from being allowed on our desks. He is the one I heard asking around if there was any way that we could drink the water out of empty Mountain Dew cans.

"He is also the one who asked my team the following question: Do you think you’re at an advantage because you have a pretty girl on your team?”"

According to Jared Rosen, a member of the production team, Leshem he also asked this: "Two of the other teams have women on them. Do you think they’re at a disadvantage?”

Rosen then goes into the fallout:

"I cannot begin to impress upon you the psychological effect this line had on everyone. The idea that these professionals, who stake their livelihoods on code and design, might be reduced to “pretty faces” and antiquated gender stereotypes, an idea perpetuated by the guy who was ostensibly in charge, was like hitting the biggest nerve in the history of nerves with a pneumatic drill. Adriel built shit that flies around in space. It’s probably flying around in space right now.

"She erupted, and Matti once more pulled back his camera, making sure to privately half-apologize that he “marched with the women in the ’70s” with “flowers in his hair.” Finally, he cornered Zoe with a camera as everyone left for dinner, trying one last time to get a rise out of her. She told him to go fuck himself and marched off set. And that is precisely when everyone else realized something was wrong.

"It took around twenty minutes for the man with flowers in his hair to storm out of the building sans job, his trilby, director’s scarf and lit e-cig marking the last time I’d see him. But the damage was done. Akira Thompson (organizer of many LA-developer events) and Kellee were rapidly notified of the brewing situation, and Zoe pulled me aside with Davey and Tom as she demanded Matti’s head on a stick. Adriel was livid. Robin wanted blood. And as the developers shared experiences the others didn’t know about, a strange thing began to happen between them that at once solidified what games are all about and doomed Polaris and Maker’s program. They formed ranks and revolted."

Yes, the developers stood together and closed down the show: superb!

Various of the contestants have blogged on the event and their feelings about it.

Zoe Quinn.
Adriel Wallick
Robin Arnott

And Jared Rosen - who worked for Polaris.



Anonymous Coward 3 Apr 2014 05:10
Can't wait till these "developers" join the real world. People aren't nice. Get over it.

And how they expected anything else after joining a "reality" show indicates even more of their naivete.
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