June 29, 2015


Three indie developers Rami Ismail, Steve Gaynor and Whitney Hills reach to their own personal experiences to speak about problems in video game industry

 Two of the most important indie developers in active, Rami Ismail (from the Dutch studio Vlambeer) and Steve Gaynor (cofounder of Fullbright) gave two talks that, each in their way, versed from their personal experience about ways to manage oneself in game industry.

Rami Ismail repeats in Gamelab after his celebrated last year talk, "20 tips to be an indie developer". However, this year he wanted to talk about personal and systemic mistakes in the indie game industry in order to help the audience improve their own experiences learning from his blunders. He checked the interactive world problems, from the endogamic culture to the high levels of superhuman effort sometimes needed in crunch time (the last steps of a project); an over-effort that should not be necessary. He talked about how indie studios tend to commit mistakes planning their projects when they have to mark times and put some limits to the reach of a game — or simply founding a company with much more employees than actually needed. He mentioned that, some time ago, he criticized free to play games, but now he knows that different business models work for different people. He also advised to never work for free, and ended stating that he doesn't want to "reduce the number of mistakes we make but the time we stand mistaken. The secret is learning from mistakes".

Steve Gaynor talked about personal experiences too, focusing in creators' need for leaving their comfort zone to power up their creativity. Gaynor mentioned that initial spark that every artist feels — a spark that urges him to communicate what you have to say. But Gaynor also warned that, consciously or not, that spark can go, and "it's normal for the author to look for calmer waters". Speaking about his own experience, he told the audience that, after founding his studio, all developers used the know-how obtained working in triple A developments to create an original story, Gone Home. However, when they started their next work, Tacoma, they realized that they were gradually starting to make the same game again. Improved, but the same. That's why they decided a change in the environment of the story and part of the rules so they could power up their creativity and, above all, develop a better product, a more exciting game.

Whitney Hills, developer, writer and consultant in video game indie development closed the evening — and Gamelab 2015 as well. Speaking from his own vantage point as a woman in the industry, Hills mentioned her communication strategy to earn respect in an industry mainly masculine. From her own experience, Hills analyzed how women need (in this business and in other aspects of their lives) a more proactive attitude to speak their mind — as well as more control over their verbal and body language and, above all, a change in their relation with themselves in order to not trip their own feet. 

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