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Bytes: Tim Langdell & the IGDA
by Adam Saltsman on 05/31/09 01:40:00 pm   Expert Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

so embarrassing

The indie community especially is buzzing the last few days about a letigious douchebag named Tim Langdell, who is on the IGDA Board of Directors.  Recently he asked Apple to remove IGF nominee (and one of the very few decent original iPhone games ever made) EDGE from the App Store in Europe, and Apple complied.  You can read more about the recent events here:

Repost of Simon Carless's GSW Article

TIGSource Frontpage

TIGSource Forums

 

Whether or not his actions are legal I think is rather beside the point, as they fly in the face of the very values that the IGDA (and many Normals Humans) think are so important.  Selections from the official IGDA About page:

Mission: "promoting professional development"

Core Values: Community, Professionalism, Leadership, Fun

They go on to claim that "The IGDA empowers everyone with the means to positively affect their career and the industry."

 

I think it's worth contrasting those values with Tim's actions and history.  Tim's bio on the IGDA Directors page begins with this statement:

"Tim is a 30-year veteran of the video game industry, CEO of EDGE Games, its lead game designer, game developer, as well as professor and Lead Faculty for the MFA in Videogame Production & Design at National University . He also instigated interactive media and game curriculum at the University of Southern California Film School in 1992, and taught at USC for 14 years before moving to become Department Chair at National. Tim has worked on almost 200 titles over his career to-date, and is currently working on new games for the PS3, Wii, PC and Xbox 360."

Of course, if you check mobygames, EDGE is only credited (under various aliases) on a maximum of 26 titles, most of which are at least a decade old, if not two.  Tim himself is credited on ZERO titles, unless you count "special thanks" sections, in which case he is credited on THREE games.  I mean, we all shine up our resumes now and then, but damn.  0 to 200 is a pretty big jump!  I mean I worked on 26 games in the last two years, so can I just round that up to 200 and be on the Board too?

Here is the IGDA's initial response to the controversy.

One wonders, between the trumped up qualifications and history of letigious douchebaggery, how these qualities align with any of the IGDA's core values?  If one of the directors is a trademark troll shutting down independent developers, its hard to see that as "fun" or "community" oriented, and it's quite difficult to see that as positively affecting anyone's careers or the industry.

 

We had a funny experience up at the Montreal International Game Summit last year that I think sums up the IGDA for me (that is, the IGDA at large, not specific local branches etc).  We were wandering around between the conference and the infamous GAMMA afterparty trying to find something decent to eat, when lo and behold we stumble upon then-chairman Jason Della Rocca!  As you may know, he is a Montreal native, so we were sure to get a decent lead on some good eats.

US: "Oh hey Jason!  Do you know where to get some decent food in this part of the city?"

JASON looks around and spies the shady hot dog joint that we are standing directly in front of.

JASON: "Ummm this place has hot dogs?"

US: "Yea we were thinking of maybe not hot dogs, maybe more of a sit-down place?"

JASON: "I gotta go"

That's the same Jason who upon resigning wrote this extremely... insightful "rant" about his experience as the chairman of the largest game-oriented organization in the world.

 

Anyways, this isn't a call to arms or revolution or anything like that obviously.  This has just been on my mind a lot the last couple days, and hey what is a blog for if not for that?

 


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Comments


Jason Della Rocca
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Hahaha! I'm just not that familiar with that section of town. While I pretend to be a hip Montrealer, I actually live in the burbs :( Yes, I'm a sad domesticated slave. I was myself hunting for a quick bite before getting over to do my official duties at GAMMA. For what it's worth, I scarfed down a sandwich at the Subway right next to that hotdog joint. Sorry to have failed you as a "pretend" Montrealer.

Brandon McCartin
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Haha, I remember being like, "Wait, was that Jason Della Rocca?" :P



We managed to find a pretty decent place, nonetheless. And to prove just how little French any of us knew. So bonjour to that!

Reid Kimball
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Actually, it's quite obvious your post is a call to arms when you end it by linking to Jason's rant about how people don't do anything to improve the IGDA and our careers.

Tyrone Rodriguez
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Reid, I disagree. The link appears to provide background for those of us who maybe aren't up to speed on who Jason Della Rocca is.

Kain Shin
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In Jason's defense, he does do a lot of things behind the scenes and is relatively amiable in person when he is not stretched in a million different directions. The Austin chapter would not exist without Jason.



That being said, IGDA is a huge organization, and the value of the IGDA to individuals is directly proportional to the activity of local chapters. IGDA-Central starts local chapters, and then they are on their own from then on. So it is up to the local chapters to define what the community in that area needs and provide meaningful services to the local dev community along those lines. This can be difficult for local chapters as they get absolutely no funding whatsoever from IGDA-Central. I'm not sure where that membership money goes, but the Austin chapter sees absolutely nothing from that.



So if one local chapter sucks... there is a good chance that another local chapter may not suck as much, depending on who runs the local chapter and how committed they are to keeping it relevant.



Incidentally, this topic is being discussed on the IGDA forums as well:

http://www.igda.org/Forums/showthread.php?postid=224860#post22486
0



A call for his removal is being made:

http://www.igda.org/Forums/showthread.php?threadid=35923

Kain Shin
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So after all is said and done, I hope folks do not try to blame the IGDA for the actions of one bad apple. They are an non-profit organization run by volunteers, and their hands are legally tied in this situation. In other words, they cannot afford to get sued, and so their involvement in this legal matter is highly limited.



The overall intention of the IGDA means well... we want more/better jobs, community, and knowledge-sharing amongst developers. That is a universal goal of the IGDA that has merit as long as the people who volunteer towards that goal have noble intentions. Central does that through whitepapers and SIGs and stuff... local chapters do that through whatever means they have available.



What the IGDA needs... what the community of game developers need is SUPPORT for the closest thing we have to a meaningful community. The group can only be as good as those that volunteer... and those volunteers run the spectrum between altruistic and self-serving. There is a war going on within the ranks of IGDA... and the prize is YOUR SOUL!!!

Billy Joe Cain
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Kain,



Thank you for commenting here and bringing up these current issues to the Austin Chapter. I'm just getting my head around it all after a whirlwind week of professional and personal wackiness.



From what I am reading, there's some serious controversy going on. If anyone wants to educate me directly, my email is billyjoecain AT gmail. I'm reading the forums currently and trying to follow all the links.



I don't know what to do about this Tim / IGDA issue as a member except to try to get educated first.



It occurs to me that we have some seriously upset people.



Hey - if you're pissed off... volunteer with your local chapter! Use that frustration for some good! I'm sure your chapter coordinators would appreciate it. Before anyone jumps down my throat (of course no one was gonna do that, really :) ), I realize that integrity and honesty are most important and that we all need to hold ourselves to a higher standard - volunteerism doesn't make everything better... It's just that we need people that are willing to donate time. And I figured if I was gonna get people to read anything, the least I could do is ask people to donate some of their spare time! :)



Seriously though - I'm getting educated about this. If I can help in any way, just ask.

bjc


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