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How the Most Expensive Game Jam Crashed And Burned in a Single Day (indiestatik.com)
351 points by jmduke on Mar 31, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 124 comments



Some choice quotes:

> ...but Matti pushed the angle. And as the challenge went on we discovered that he had cornered Jon in a room to try and get him to speak poorly of Zoe, the only negative “story” they could muster out of all fifteen contestants.

> “Two of the other teams have women on them. Do you think they’re at a disadvantage?” Silence. It was like the wind was sucked out of the room behind the barrier, but the floor was so loud only the two all-male teams heard the question. Mark answered diplomatically that the teams actually had a huge advantage by having more viewpoints, though everyone was strong regardless because of their skill. Matti cut him off, pulled back the camera, and coughed, “Stop filming. We’re not getting a story here.”

It's a pretty long article, so here's a TL;DR:

Maker Studios is a very large YouTube network (the one that was just bought by Disney for $500 million). They tried to create some sort of game jam, and invited some teams of indie devs to participate. It devolved into being some sort of awful corporate-backed reality show, and the devs were consistently disrespected. The guy with the misogynistic quotes above was the main problem, according to a lot of the people there. Trying to push contention, etc, for the sake of the "reality" aspect of it.

That dude got sacked, and the devs all walked away. Apparently the whole thing cost $400,000.


The "guy" in question isn't just anybody, it's Matti Leshem. Leshem is extremely well-connected in the Los Angeles production and marketing networks (I know of him tangentially from my television work), and his company, Protagonist, is Pepsi's primary strategy consultancy. I'm pretty sure TBWA\Chiat\Day is still Pepsi's marketer of record, but Protagonist drives the social push, broad strategy, and so on. They've worked with him over a decade so Leshem is basically a Pepsi man and the Mountain Dew angle of GAME_JAM makes a lot more sense in that context.

Based on what I've heard of him, Leshem turned a career making soap operas into one of those "high-energy brand power" sort of consultancies, the marketing equation solved to its limit that disgusts everyone when they think about "marketing." He and his wife represent a big Hollywood power couple -- she's high up at Warner Brothers and responsible for movies like Se7en and Benjamin Button, he's responsible for cultural triumphs like "USA Rock Paper Scissors League" (sponsored by Amp Energy, a PepsiCo brand, of course).

This article should explain a lot, from Variety in 2003: http://variety.com/2003/scene/news/branded-tv-bubbling-up-fr... -- I have no doubt in my mind that Matti Leshem showed up on set thinking "YouTube vehicle for Pepsi" and acted accordingly. Which should tell you a lot about Pepsi, honestly.


Not to be confused with the other "guy", Josh Mattingly: "The original concept work came from Indie Statik’s then-face Josh Mattingly and Game Jolt founder David DeCarmine, back before that ugliness back in January lost us half our staff and an EIC in around twelve minutes."

This guy:

"Also, how are yo, pretty lady? :)"

"I will kiss you on the vagina if you do"

"Ill still kiss your vagina"

"Let me know if you need a penis for anything in the meae future *near"

"Like. My penis. For your vagina"

[Too explicit for me to feel comfortable leaving readable]

http://img.gawkerassets.com/img/19d66708hxa9zpng/original.pn...

http://kotaku.com/she-was-harassed-by-a-games-reporter-now-s...


It's revealing that selling your body results in social ostracism but selling your soul has the opposite effect.


It's called selling out and it's socially accepted because it's a survival necessity for nearly everyone. There are principled communities where it matters, and then on the other side there are websites like this one dedicated to the idea of selling out. For everyone else their prepackaged rationalization is the Yuppie Nuremberg defense.


There are principled communities where it matters

If you have a few examples of these I'd be very, very much obliged.


The Death Metal scene has pretty much no sell outs. There are a few examples, but it is definitely a community where selling out is the worst thing you can do.


I'm not talking about a hippie commune or something, but that in some subcultures it is actually a thing people mentally struggle with and make decisions with more emphasis on principal than money. Another commenter gave the example of death metal, which is a good one because music and art in general are where I see the attitudes the most.


Selling your soul is bad business, you want to rent it out so at the Oscars you can still rail against the man.


... while taking a Samsung-sponsored selfie with the man.


Exactly.


Well I guess technically, you also rent your body, since you can't legally sell yourself into slavery.


Interesting, thanks! The Indie Statik article didn't do a good job of framing who he was.

I'll bet Polaris tries to push the "it was all Matti's fault" angle that the Indie Statik article had. But I'm assuming Polaris knew exactly what they were getting themselves into when they got Matti on board for this, given the information you shared.


> Interesting, thanks! The Indie Statik article didn't do a good job of framing who he was.

Probably because he had no idea who the guy was.


Thanks for the context. I wonder what you call a person who is willing to do anything and everything for personal gain, because he sees the people around him as nothing more than means to an end?


It's the popular definition of sociopath.


Steve Jobs.


I hope this fiasco has a detrimental impact on his career.

I hope it, but I doubt it.


Certainly tells me never to get involved with Leshem in any capacity. Not that it's likely.

This whole story reads like a some tech people got rolled by a couple of Hollywood types. It sounds like the only intentional asshole was their producer guy.


Trying to "explore industry sexism" by attempting to trick these devs into talking shit behind each others' backs is amazing. Particularly combined with the contracts, about which: "another [sic] clause allowed for willful misrepresentation for the sake of drama [...]", this could have ended poorly for a lot of these folks. Let me guess: at least one of those women was going to be a raging bitch and at least one of those guys was going to be a women-hating misogynist bro. At least by the time it hit youtube. Regardless of what they said or whether they had to stitch sentences together ala chef's death on south park.

Props to all of them who told the producers to diaf.


> UPDATE: Rumors are going around that the writer of the article was fired from his Polaris/Maker gig.

Technically he was a contractor and not an employee of Polaris. He didn't get fired (you can't outright fire contractors), the remainder of his contract was canceled. I suspect this is due to some perceived breach of the contract related to his reporting on GAME_JAM.

The author mentioned upfront that he didn't necessarily expect to come out unscathed after the article, but he stuck to his guns and did what he felt was right. Respect.


Yeah, I'm not entirely sure what's going on with that so I removed that part of my post for now. The author just tweeted again saying "he wasn't fired", so maybe they haven't actually cancelled his contract. There will probably be more solid info once the dust settles.


https://twitter.com/notquitefrodo/status/450759909303255040

"CLARIFICATION: @PolarisTweets never let me go! I am still there in my old capacity. It was really scary miscommunication, thank God."

To be honest, his writing in that article is terrible and his ability to miscommunicate something like that is scary.


The article assumed that the reader already knew what he was talking about and the people involved. It takes 11 paragraphs before he tells you what GAME_JAM is. Then the article names people like Zoe and Robin, gives their perspective, and describes them doing things long before we meet Zoe or learn what her role was in GAME_JAM.


For the most part, readers of IndieStatik probably do know who they are. It's the closest thing I can think of to an indie gaming trade mag, in the sense that a lot of people read it (though not in the "writing for people who aren't already plugged in" sense).

I think they get too close to their subjects too often for my liking, but the most part it's not a bad read.


It's kind of a cold open, but the article does explain the context before it gets to the meat of the issue.


It looks like the miscommunication was _to_ him, not _from_ him. He was called in to collect his stuff, but then not fired once he got in with his boss.

Personally, I had no trouble following the article.


The article was hard to follow, but I respect him for writing it. I sure hope he keeps his day job. ;)


Semantics.


This is one of the most uplifting and positive stories I've read via HN.

Whilst I understand that's probably not the most common take-away, I read it as a story of how software development is slowly changing to a field where sexism is no longer acceptable.

I think it is fantastic that the developers stood up to Matti, and refused to give him the story he was looking for.

People will continue to argue all they like over if software development is a meritocracy and/or if different genders have differing natural inclinations towards the field.

All I know is that on that day there were two female developers who had gained enough respect from their peers that no one would fall into the trap of "providing a story" for the show.

I think that does all the developers involved credit.

Edit: Adriel Wallick (one of the developers involved) has written a blog post about it. I thought this bit was great:

I will not put my face and my “stamp of approval” on something where this is even a question. No, we are not at an advantage because we have women on our team and no, we are not at a disadvantage because we have women on our team. We all have advantages and disadvantages because of our varying skills and strengths. Having the audacity to be a woman does not hinder nor help any of these things. Being a woman simply means that we are women.

http://msminotaur.com/blog/?p=187


'I think it is fantastic that the developers stood up to Matti, and refused to give him the story he was looking for.'

I agree completely. Nobody should put up with that sort of bullshit, and I'm glad the developers didn't.

However, a comment from the linked account:

'But the people responsible for hiring those who ultimately destroyed it – they all contributed to a toxic environment, and they should be held accountable for that.'

I must disagree with this. There is no such thing as precognition. How someone comes across in an interview is a weak predictor of how he performs on the job. With the best will in the world, sometimes an employer will make a mistake and hire the wrong person.

And this mistake is already punished by law and custom more harshly than it should be. The result is that employers are incentivized to err strongly on the side of caution, to never give a candidate the benefit of any doubt, no matter how ill-founded.

And this hurts everyone. It hurts good people who can't get a job because there's no absolute proof they'd be good hires. It hurts good people being abused by sociopathic bosses because they're afraid they wouldn't be able to get another job if they were fired. It hurts good people being paid below their worth because wages are bid down by the desperate. One way or another, it hurts you, and it hurts people you care about.

The blame for the fiasco needs to be placed where it belongs: on Matti, not on the people who hired him without perfect foreknowledge of his future actions.


The blame for the fiasco needs to be placed where it belongs: on Matti, not on the people who hired him without perfect foreknowledge of his future actions.

This is absolutely true, so far as blame goes.

But the people who hired him were responsible for him. That's how business works: a business cannot just reject responsibility for the actions of people acting for them because they subsequently find out they did bad things. The business can (and should) try to correct those thing, but they are accountable for it.

And this mistake is already punished by law and custom more harshly than it should be. The result is that employers are incentivized to err strongly on the side of caution, to never give a candidate the benefit of any doubt, no matter how ill-founded.

And this hurts everyone. It hurts good people who can't get a job because there's no absolute proof they'd be good hires. It hurts good people being abused by sociopathic bosses because they're afraid they wouldn't be able to get another job if they were fired. It hurts good people being paid below their worth because wages are bid down by the desperate. One way or another, it hurts you, and it hurts people you care about.

I disagree with this. Yes, employers should be able to take risks on people, but at the same time a business can bring powerful resources to bear on something, and in the wrong hands those resources can be dangerous. A business absolutely should consider this when they hire, and should be held accountable if they make a mistake in hiring.


From the article: "He was also a huge liability ... pre-production meetings quickly turned towards one recurring fear: that someone external would say something offensive, trip an emotional switch, turn the environment toxic – and the devs would walk ... Matti and the members of the second team were a time bomb, but for some reason, no one did anything about it."

This is not about someone unknown suddenly acting offensive. The guy was known and nobody tried to tone him down.

I agree with you that generally we must allow companies to make hiring mistakes. I also thing that it is better for everybody if even biggest jerks can get job and earn living (instead of being unemployed on help). But known jerks should not be kept at positions where they can screw others big time.


'But known jerks should not be kept at positions where they can screw others big time.'

I agree, they shouldn't. The impression I get from the article is that once it was brought to the attention of Matti's employers that he was screwing up in a big way, he was quickly given the boot, though I'm open to correction if this turns out not to be the case.


My impression was that they acted only after everything was screwed beyond repair. E.g., after "pretty face" question was asked to everybody with Adria offended and Zoe angry enough to swearingly walk away. He was pushing buttons trying to manufacture drama before that.

That being said, I read down that he is a big animal, important for Pepsi and influential in shows making cycles. So, show produces might have been between rock and hard place.

On the other hand, it is hard to excuse Pepsi, they seem to be happy with him. It even looks like they are "on his side" in follow up and complained about above article or something.


Yeah, it's strange that they had to be smiling while holding the product, but misogyny was a completely fine thing to pair the brand with.

Is Mountain Dew not fairing well with the minsogynst demo?


> http://msminotaur.com/blog/?p=187

Really interesting read, but now my eyes hurt.


Same post, on the much more readable Gamasutra:

http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/AdrielWallick/20140331/214258...


Why don't you just copy/paste the text into a text editor of your choice and read it there?


If anyone is curious how to do this kind of hyper-niche techie reality show the right way, please do check out Penny Arcade's Strip Search: http://www.penny-arcade.com/strip-search

The premise is to get a bunch of comic strip artists together and compete to win a working space at Penny Arcade's office in Seattle and some cash (the idea being this would be used to launch their own comic strip).

Some things that really worked well:

* There was almost zero bullshit reality TV manufactured drama

* Everyone treated each other with respect and I think every artist gained something from being on the show (new fans, support for Kickstarter projects, etc)

* Focused on the work being produced, including plenty of links to scans of all the artwork on the show website

* Episodes released on YouTube (could use existing apps, infrastructure)

* Two episodes (15-25min) released each week (short enough to consume, frequent enough to keep you hooked)

* Enough production value for it to not be a distraction; obviously this isn't a major network TV show, but it wasn't some person's first production using iMovie

* The show didn't take itself too seriously. Watch the "elimination ceremonies" to see what I mean.

Definitely worth a watch, and worth learning from :)


I was thinking Amnesia Fortnight from 2 Player Productions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTzTjf-I-A8&index=2&list=PLI...

It’s not about a game jam (but it’s four team leads with four teams getting to make a prototype of their game idea in two weeks, so pretty similar) but it’s about game development.

Great productions values, all on YouTube, no manufactured drama, but still plenty of actual drama, tension and hilarious moments.

The idea behind this game jam is pretty awesome and deserves to be implemented the right way. It wouldn’t even have to be the more contemplative style of 2 Player Productions.


>I was thinking Amnesia Fortnight from 2 Player Productions:

Yeah these are fantastic. High recommended. Production quality is high enough they could air them on TV too.


I didn't feel like Strip Search was a particularly effective way of finding the best cartoonist in the group. Contrived challenges like copying Barack Obama's signature 10,000 times or setting up a convention booth really had nothing to do with drawing a comic. Even the comic-drawing elimination challenges seemed like a poor fit for some of the cartoonists due to the extreme time constraints.


  I didn't feel like Strip Search was a 
  particularly effective way of finding 
  the best cartoonist in the group.
Typically for reality competition shows the goal is to produce programming that draws in viewers, rather than to find the best competitor.

If 'survivor' wanted to make a show about survival skills they'd use a bunch of ex-marines, mountaineers and woodmen. If 'dancing with the stars' wanted to show the best dancing, they'd get rid of the celebrities and just have professionals. If 'the apprentice' wanted to find people with business skills they'd get candidates smart enough to realize infighting isn't a useful business skill.

I'm not saying I like it, but 'so you think you can dance' certainly has more viewers than the Prix de Lausanne youtube channel. And what's the point in making ideologically pure TV that no-one wants to watch?


I haven't watched So You Think You Can Dance for a few years now, but at least when I was watching on a regular basis (seasons 3-6 or so), they did exactly what you're proposing they do, e.g. select highly skilled dancers. There were no "This person is bad at dancing but it's funny to watch them be terrible" getting past more than a round or two at the tryouts, and all of the top 20 contenders each season were legitimately talented and hard working professional-quality dancers. SYTYCD gets their quality (or at least did; again, I haven't watched it for a while) by taking very skilled dancers and pushing them out of their comfort zone; you can be skilled at classical ballet, but can you adjust and pull off a hard-hitting hip hop routine? You can breakdance at BOTY, but can you learn to waltz?

That's a very different type of challenge from "You can't dance, and we want to see if you can learn to dance before you explode", and that's part of why SYTYCD is a good show. Obviously it's a reality show and SYTYCD is going to have some compromises (for example, you might argue that the judge selection is suspect, or that the styles and choreographer choices are limited) but it was honestly pretty close to ideologically pure as you could get; the people who succeeded were the people who were good at dancing, not the people who were good at ballet or contemporary or hip hop or ballroom.


I think that's partly because watching great dancers is a very entertaining thing by itself, even to the completely uninformed; the sizzle doesn't need to be manufactured. In fact, SYTYCD helped me learn a lot about the nuances of dance, something I'd been unaware of previously.

On the other hand, I can't see an ideologically pure version of 'So You Think You Can Code' any time soon.


It's still a competition to find the best candidate though. They said that over and over during the show.

Dancing with the Stars finds the best dancer out of the group, even if they're not pros. Survivor ostensibly finds the best survivor out of the group, even if they're not true outdoorsmen.


They say over and over in The Sopranos that Tony Soprano is a mobster. That doesn't make it so in reality - that's just the fiction presented to us for our entertainment. To maintain the fiction, the show doesn't wildly contradict it.

Reality TV is the same - except the fiction is the competition isn't rigged and its primary goal is to find the best candidate. The show doesn't wildly contradict it, it's just not true.


It's a competition to entertainingly find a best candidate. The core mechanic was the elimination round. Anyone who could consistently beat others given a random topic and limited time was likely to win regardless of what happened in the leading-up rounds.

Looking at the strips after the fact, Abby and Katie pretty obviously are writing the best strips. And sure, Abby's is the better of the two, but her concept is harder to distill down to its essence and present - Katie was the only one of the three finalists who was able to competently and interestingly introduce her new strip with just a few sample pages.

If you think they picked wrong, who should have won instead?

(Note that several of the other cartoonists have been hired by Penny Arcade for other tasks such as doing The Trenches and designing pins. So even if you ignore the publicity aspect there were still multiple winners.)


I didn't see enough of their work to judge the early eliminations. They could have been great, I don't know.

Of the last two, Abby should have won IMO.


I haven't had the time to watch this yet, but it seems like they wouldn't let anyone they didn't want to work with on their show.


Cons are where web comic artists make a LOT of their living. Setting up the convention booth so that you minimize theft and maximize sales is going to come in very handy later (and probably did this weekend, when some of the Strip Search contestants had a booth at Emerald City Comicon). The signature challenge was because you're asked to sign things many times in rapid succession at cons as well, but is probably less useful than learning how to set up your booth. The time constraints are relevant considering how hard it is to draw a comic strip on a regular schedule, but granted 90 minutes is pretty extreme.


I thought Strip Search was about the contestants learning about how to run a web-comic business, not necessarily learning to draw comics.


Exactly


> * There was almost zero bullshit reality TV manufactured drama

The bit in the article that astounded me was where he talked about sections of the contract everyone was expected to sign: "Another clause allowed for willful misrepresentation for the sake of drama..."


That's basically all of reality TV. There's hardly anything real about it. The scenarios are all scripted. The only thing that's sometimes real are the reactions of the 'stars'. And, even then, they're so re-edited and re-framed, that the end result doesn't have much in common with reality.


That's standard fare for "reality TV". Most of that kind of stuff is utterly fabricated.


Aka "We reserve the right to make a loser edit to drum up suspense". This was the least surprising part of it for me.


What we call bullshit is another way of saying, "in case you are supremely boring we reserve the right to make it seem like observing your day-to-day life is at the least enjoyable as a train-wreck." Maybe we are bullshitting by not living so well thats its more enjoyable than watching others live poorly.


Boring is safe. I wouldn't call being boring "living poorly."


According to Hacker News if you live a safe and "boring" life you're the worst kind of person out there


I had not heard of Strip Search - thank you for posting the link, girlfriend and I enjoyed the first 6 episodes this evening and definitely plan on finishing it up.


www.geekandsundry.com is also well done.


Pretty terrible situation. As an aside, the link about what happened to Zoe Quinn when she submitted her game, Depression Quest, to Steam Greenlight, is something I had not heard before. I was blown away by her deceptively simple RPG and to hear about that backlash is rage inducing.


Unfortunately, you really have a number of extremely vocal, misogynist trolls out there. A particularly disgusting sub-species of the Internet bully, bravely threatening rape and death from behind their keyboard. Ugh. Here is to hoping at least some of them get help and grow out of it.


I completely agree but there has to be something more to do than just waiting until the day comes they suddenly "get it" that they're being disgusting human beings. I really doubt that time is near.

edit: I realize this is basically asking "how do you stop online trolling?" which is pretty hard question.


But the article is pretty much the answer to that question, isn't it? People from enormously different backgrounds came together, they stood in the face of inciting commentary/questions. I imagine that, as with the trolling, it is more difficult to protect your viewpoints in person than online.


Look at the comments on http://indiestatik.com/2013/12/13/female-game-developers/ and despair.


You really need to consider the source on this. IT's from wizardchan. Just look at the rules: http://wizardchan.org/rules.html

1. Do not post about your personal sexual experiences or allude to the possibility that you have any.

2. Do not post about real life social activities or your romantic relationships.

3. Do not disparage, advise against, or show contempt for the celibate, NEET, or reclusive lifestyles.

These aren't normal people, and aren't really representative.


I've read this comment a few times. How does that in any way excuse the comments on the article?


I wouldn't say it excuses it, but rather it explains it. People (Men, really) who frequent a website aimed at NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training), recluses, loners, etc. A site that in their own words: "This site is Wizardchan, an anonymous community for male virgins."[1], and where they have specific "rankings" based on how much of a virgin you are (KV - kissless virgin, HV - hugless virgin, HHV - Handholdless virgin), and "wizard" status based on age, with your level being your age when you were still a virgin - a site where you can get banned for making posts about romantic/sexual activities, social activities, or even just alluding to the fact that you have had sex[2].

I don't think it's too much of a stretch to suggest that these people have some serious problems with women.

I also think that the article kind of tries to depict this thing as the norm in the gaming community. But, wizardchan users are not really representative of the gaming community as a whole. Yes, it sucks that she received this abuse from these people who have psychological issues, or other mental health problems (let's not forget the screenshot is from their board dedicated to personal depression), but you can't judge the whole gaming community based off the actions of this community.

Now granted, there are a lot of problems with the gaming community in general, but using wizardchan's warped perspective userbase is a very poor example.

I think those users are suffering from some serious psychological problems, and need help. And I don't think shaming them about their actions is enough to get them to stop. These people already have no social activity, no romantic partners, and have never even had sex, and for this they place the blame on society, but more specifically on women. Whatever their actions of statements about women in general should be viewed with that in mind, and I don't think there's any way of getting through to them.

[1]: http://wizardchan.org/faq.html [2]: http://wizardchan.org/rules.html


well, /v/ is shithole, even for 4chan conditions.


I think I've heard that exact statement made about every one of 4chan's boards at one time or another.


Those screen shots are not from 4Chan, but from some other chan using similar software.


but with /v/ users? :(


/v/ hasn't had five-digit post numbers like that since 2005.


If you want them to become decent human beings it would be good to set the example with coherent and decent speaking, i.e. not by calling them "disgusting troll sub-species".


how dare you wish that people who demand empathy practice it themselves?!

j/k. seriously. you have basically solved the answer to the universe right above. if people treated each other with respect, even when they don't know who is right and who is wrong, we'd all be better off.


"Disgusting trolls" is, I think, a fair description of their online persona, as the chief characteristics of their behaviour appears to be sexism, bullying and cowardice. Now, that's not all of who they are, and as human beings, I accept that their actions are symptoms of underlying problems (well-adjusted people don't normally engage in this kind of behaviour), and I wish them to get better, this attitude is toxic to both their victims and themselves.


Fairness or improving; pick one.


I found these two articles on the subject alittle easier to follow:

http://msminotaur.com/blog/?p=187

http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/ZoeQuinn/20140331/214325/Unre...


Post-script: the author of this article was just canned by his employers because they don't come out of it smelling like roses.

https://twitter.com/notquitefrodo/status/450742394606981120

https://twitter.com/NickCapozzoli/status/450743775783297024


Now he's unfired, apparently. Perhaps they sensed a shitstorm.

https://twitter.com/notquitefrodo/status/450750588326658048


Reckon that didn't come entirely as a surprise. Best of luck to him, I really liked the article.


Those tweets are deleted, but I'm seriously curios this time. Anyone remember them?


"Adriel built shit that flies around in space. It’s probably flying around in space right now."

A great end to a great paragraph about the effect of summing up hard working professionals based on gender traits.


I worked with her on that project to put a satellite into space. She did a damnable fine job on the lightning algorithm. I managed to write an over engineered piece of junk. Funny part is, her "simple" code was far better than my "complex" code no less in part because she actually was writing in the idiom of the language while I was fighting it.


There is a fascinating story there. Can you say more?


Sure,

If you're writing Python, write Python not Haskell. C#, don't try to do Erlang. Basically, write to the language you're working in and not to something you're not.

Also, if you think a deep domain based algorithm is wrong, making it so that you can remove pieces of it piecemeal is the wrong choice. Point out the flaw, bring it to the people in charge and let them handle it.


Super.

I know someone in security who writes ruby that looks like C.

I was also curious about the space part of the project.


I've worked in LA on various tech projects in the entertainment industry... and this case has a familiar ring to it.

Be wary of allowing people and general culture from the Industry in on your gig. Especially if cameras are rolling. Really sit down and think about what is being traded -- possibly your time and integrity for a brief laugh.

Of course another way to look at it is: one individual who caused trouble here for taking it too far and not being sensitive to the situation. Whatever the industry, we've all run across people like Matti :)


It sounds like both this Matti Leshem person and the legal team that drew up the awful contracts (which Rosen softpedals a bit, as "standard practice" and unlikely to "actually [be] pursued," as if those excuse anything) thought they were working with stereotypical reality-show contestants, i.e. people so desperate for fame that they'd put up with any kind of horrible shit for a shot at the limelight. It must have been a bit of a shock to discover that their "stars" weren't interested in playing the Hollywood game.


I got the same impression. I am sure that pushing people's buttons and trying to start fights between people is standard procedure on most reality TV shows. But it's a bit different when the contestants are professionals who are there mostly just to share their craft, and don't care at all about being a star or winning the prize.


Can they do anything with the footage they have?

Maybe they accidentally created a great documentary about contestants who revolted from a reality show. Shoot some followup interviews and make something great from this wreck.

That's the real narrative and it's more interesting than the drama they were attempting to artificially create anyway.


I was thinking about that, too. I suspect, though, that no matter what the devs signed, Matti Leshem never signed away the right to have himself shown in bad light He would probably raise cain if any of the footage of his flopped interviews gets aired. Doubly so if he's as well-connected as it sounds like he is.


They only filmed for one day. Also, it sounds like the developers did not want anything do to with the production company afterwards based on how they rejected all potential fixes.


They may not even have permission to air what they already have; some of the developers hadn't even signed the contract yet.


I suspect that's not what the sponsor wants to see, and therefore will not be seen.


Here's a story from just a few days ago telling how PepsiCo and Matti Leshem are announcing they’ll continue collaborating as they celebrate a 10-year anniversary. http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/pepsi-stuck-...

Angelique Krembs, VP of marketing at PepsiCo, also talks about Matti: “It makes us work at a higher level because we have that history. I cannot imagine not having Mattie[sic] to help solve our big problems or bounce things off of.”

Matti was most definitely not fired, and will be leading PepsiCos marketing and branding efforts. When you see Mountain Dew or Pepsi, just always remember that you can support Matti by buying a can!


That's May 27, 2013, not March 27, 2014. The article is almost a year old.


So don't drink Pepsi. Better for you anyway.


Wow is that some tortured writing. This paragraph needs serious help:

> To say there is an uncomfortable air of fear in security is one (perhaps overblown) thing. To see the largest and only production of its kind, with hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line and an entire secondary production company locked in silent rapture under lit signage for Mountain Dew, the entire project gloriously rupturing like the belly of the Bismark – that is another. To be ushered by muted fear and nervous glances, to stand in desolate directors rooms filled with black screens and empty chairs. Darkened judging stands. Color-coded team challenge floors, soon to be dismantled, but left intact in the hopes that some shimmering archangel would descend and reinvigorate the eleven indie developers currently revolting against Maker Studios inside their rented Winnebagos.


I gave up after this point and came here for the TL;DR.


You should just skip over the first few paragraphs and keep reading; the writing improves pretty quickly.


I second that. I have no idea what first paragraphs are about, but it gets better after that.


Came here to check if I was the only one. It was utterly incomprehensible, made all the worse by the author being so full of himself.


Fascinating read, but it feels like a good third of the article was the author self-importantly talking about himself. You could fairly skip to the first heading, "The Set-Up", and not lose a single bit if insight.


I appreciated the backstory about the author. It explained his connection with the organizations and people involved, and I think that helped give weight to what he said.


I think he was just too close, he was making a lot of assumptions about how much the average reader knew about indie game development and his role in it. It just might be pretty standard for Indie Statik though, I´ve never read or heard of it before.


Yeah, as someone with just a casual interest in indie games (I had heard of the names of three of the developers before read a lot of and about two of them) and that whole YouTube thing (I know two or so of the mentioned YouTube people) this story was pretty easy to follow. For someone outside of that it must be much, much harder to follow.

It could certainly be improved for a more general audience but I’m not even sure whether the author thought this story would blow up like it did.

(And yeah, the article does start slow, but I think that’s mostly driven by the author’s desire to really clarify and explain his complicated relationship to the organisers.)


Jeez, it would be nice if someone, somewhere, would define GAME_JAM for those of us out of that bubble.


Hackathon for games. Bunch of people meet up and make a game from the ground up. Typically for a weekend but sometimes longer. At the end everyone shows off what they made.

Notably while you do divide up into teams in a game jam, and they might even give out prizes, game jams are not thought of as a competitive event. It's very common artists and musician to contribute to multiple teams, programmers help others with stuff they specialize in, everyone is always getting feedback and playtests from others, etc.


Seriously, please! I read the whole article and at the end I felt like I was still missing crucial pieces of info. This style of writing may be "interesting" but it is definitely not information dense.


It's quite well explained throughout the article, although not in the first few paragraphs. Essentially, it's a reality TV show that was originally supposed to be a vaguely-documentary type thing about a game jam, but morphed into something the devs revolted against.


Looks like a bunch of folks with un-natural hair colours trying to write games while being yelled at or something.


hahaha


Why not just go to the source of someone that was there? http://msminotaur.com/blog/?p=187

The sad part is, someone suggested to a few people on Reddit that people look into Game Jams if one is serious about coding games, stuff like that. Makes me much more skeptical to do that now.


This does not sound like a typical game jam. You should definitely jam. It's a great way to carve out some time for a project, and also a great way to meet people who you might end up working with.

Check out the original indie game jam: http://www.indiegamejam.com/igj0/


This was highly atypical for a game jam, which is part of why it failed so spectacularly.

Here's some of the major organized game jams, if you'd like a better picture:

Ludum Dare: http://www.ludumdare.com/

Global Game Jam: http://globalgamejam.org/


the entire project gloriously rupturing like the belly of the Bismark

By the time the last British torpedo hit the Bismarck, the ship was listing so far over, some observers thought the torpedo hit the port side superstructure -- in other words, the top of the warship. There is some debate over whether the Bismarck was sunk by torpedoes at all, or if it was sunk by scuttling charges installed by the crew.


The article would lead one to conclude the people behind the show will clean up their act and come back with a more sensitive approach.

An alternative possibility is that they will simply keep the format, but find another less discerning group of developers.

I think the latter possibility is the more likely one, and all developers would suffer as a result of the ensuing portrayal.


So much drama.


The purple writing is really distracting.


What language is this written in? I can't understand what it's about. Games or something?




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