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How we do not let our works speak for themselves.
by Sjors Jansen on 07/21/13 04:22:00 pm

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.


How we do not let our works speak for themselves.

(Warning: I am a poison type. You may not like what you read.)

How and why did this article come about?
Last week I read two blogs about indie PR. One from a journalist, one from an indie developer. On this subject I also saw a talk from Brian Baglow and today saw another talk by Kieron Gillen and finally I felt the need to speak up.

I have always felt and still feel that marketing is evil. I know I am outnumbered there. So you can skip this bit that provides a short explanation and get on to the good stuff (tm) below.
 Marketing is pushing yourself onto others, wether they like it or not. As a person you cannot escape it in this world, I've lived as a hermit. If you are a parent you are likely familiar with your kids begging you for stuff on a daily basis. Desire to disappointment. As a person you can only fight a losing battle against marketing in all it's overwhelming glory or try to transcend it, but that's pretty un-human-like.
 In an overly extreme and perverse comparison, marketing is rape. Maybe they (journalists, gamers) were asking for it (your game). Maybe they actually liked it. But there will be plenty whose time and attention you've wasted with your selfish desire.
 To dial it back, I feel humans should have the right to be left alone, marketing has become so prevalent in modern society and in shaping our desires that I feel it starts to cross the line between the harm and the offense principle.
 For me personally: no matter the amount of buttering up I would do (knowing everything about a journalist and cleverly tying my work to something personal for them), it would not make me feel less dirty. And my game by extension.

The environment for games.
It seems the way to do PR for games is pretty established (of course the spoiled press always likes surprises and social media trends will probably keep passing by, so PR will always keep changing slightly blah blah..).
As gets pointed out again and again in the articles I mentioned and in countless others, if you do not do PR, you have very little chance of people looking at your game or making any money from it.
 Having a good game is not good enough. "Success" is very dependent on courting, using, misdirecting or even outright lying to other people, just to make them take a look (that last bit is very important). So this situation we have right now does not let our works speak for themselves.
 First, you'll need to butter them up with a long running marketing scheme. And if you feel like me about marketing you can probably see that you will be very much holding back on making a personal game, putting yourself in there. Because that will mess you up as a creative person. (think about it like whoring out your baby child if it did not trigger an emotion in you before).

I've been writing very dramatic, very black & white so far. And of course things are not that extreme, even I can do a little whoring and be slightly personal. And even if not, there will be plenty who can and will to varying degrees.
 But, the point I would like to make clear is that our work, ideally, should speak for itself. Regardless of games or books or music or whatever. And that we should be working towards an environment that supports that, not in the other direction.
 So, it may not be that wise to keep trying to make PR strategy status quo. Maybe there are better ways to go about this.
 How about an agreement between journalists to not cover the same fucking game everywhere? Unless their point scores at the end differ by at least 50%. Or something. If you are so overburdened, how about working together instead of competing? Indie developers do it all the time right?

(This post was part of my marketing plan to... Oh I forgot)

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Brett M
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The thing that seems strange to me is that a solo/small indie developer has to send some incredible, glorious email that catches the eye and is filled with tons of personal details that form a "story" to even be considered to grace their pages, yet Diablo 3's patch number 75.33c (fixes a spelling mistake) gets an instant news article on every site on the planet because it's more relevant to their readers.

They don't want to be used as a news wire, apart from when they do.

Covering video games seems to be in the category of "great job", but they make it sound like it's tough to read through 100's of emails a day. If I had that job, I would be doing my best to help, even if I had 5000 emails per day to go through.

This is nothing to do with Pocket Gamer (Mike Rose works there, and they are possibly the fastest responders out there), it's just some general thoughts. At the end of the day, you just have to make a great game, which we all generally fail at.


Note: I posted this comment here (
e_game_noticed_by_the_press.php#comment218883) first, but I started writing it in the comment box here.

Sjors Jansen
profile image
Hi Brett,

I agree that what matters in the end is a great game. But as pointed out by all these articles, that does not have much to do with press coverage.

So a question that gets asked is: are good games entitled to coverage?
And I think that is very hard to answer actually.

As a consumer I would rather hear about a good game and how it is a good game rather than about a so-so game from a buddy of a press member or a quip about my favorite big game. But good and bad can be very much in the eye of the beholder. (So sometimes as a consumer, I complain that reviewers should show their general taste in games very clear and concise, to be able to relate better.)

As far as to why indies need to take a different approach, I suspect it's because large companies generally provide the press with a steady flow of info, wether the journalists want to or not. So the personal approach stands out more I'd guess.

I'm not sure but I think as a journalist I'd probably worry that my articles on quirky unknown games are not attracting enough readers, thus less money. The big established games attract a large audience pretty much no matter what. So why would I cover quirky unknown games at all?
A journalist may only get paid by the amount of readers or hits or something like that that their articles bring in. Maybe reading emails is a voluntary unpaid job. Or time spent not writing about another game. Maybe they are trying to cover too much. I don't know.

I can imagine pocket gamer being absolutely overwhelmed with crap though. If people think there's money to be made.. you get these horrible.. the wii casual games, the facebook social games and now the mobile clones.
I definitely feel for people trying to wade through it, and personally I think things like, hardcoregaming101, rps and rockleesmile are a bastion or a lifeline to help with that. But it's hard to say where it will go.