All posts by Florencia Rumpel Rodriguez

About Florencia Rumpel Rodriguez

@__rumpel: Journalist. Yes, really. Wrench Wench of all things computer related. Makes games, writes stuff, loves TV Tropes, reads too much into stuff. Has a devlog.

I have no audio and I must scream

On Monday, May 7th, Google Chrome released an update that disables audio autoplay on certain sites that use HTML5. Due to this, the audio from several independent videogames stopped working. Among the wondrous things that got broken we have all HTML5 games from Increpare (known as the author of Stephen’s Sausage Roll), Terry Cavanagh’s games (beloved by Matajuegos for making Don’t look back) and the gorgeous stuff from cabbibo (who announced that they will shut their site down if a solution isn’t found). Continue reading I have no audio and I must scream

Prestige is for People With Money

It’s GDC season and it shows. Social networks are filled with comments about the conference. We see local developers, by which I mean Argentinian ones, telling us that “going to GDC should be the dream of anyone interested in videogame development.” Or telling us how GDC was the place where they kick-started to their carrers. But, what happens if you’re short on money and can’t afford it? What happens if you got a pass but can’t afford the plane tickets to get there? Or if they won’t give you a visa? What happens if you are the minority the gamedev scene and for that reason you’ll be paying a lot of money to have a bad time? Is it advisable to tell everyone that going to the industry most expensive event should be their main goal?

There’s something similar going on with Steam. We know that publishing on Steam is expensive, that if we try to sell our game there the platform will retain 30% of our sales. But it should sell well in the first place, which is tricky because the curator system is awful. If you still want to publish on Steam after all, you’ll have to handle issues with toxic communities and review bombing. We know that Steam problems have solutions because itch.io deals successfully with the “there’s too many good games and we need to help people find them” and “I don’t want to deal with toxic people when I share my game” since its conception. If Steam doesn’t solve its problems is because it’s not interested. Then, why do  we recommend, and sometimes demand, devs to publish on Steam?

Yes, there’s indeed people that made a name for themselves by going to GDC or that got a job thanks to having published a game on Steam. There’s also people that didn’t do any of those things and have a job. just the same The career of those persons that neither went to GDC nor published on Steam is not suffering because they didn’t spent tons of money following the advise of some sector of the industry. Those people exist and I know them. There’s also people that went to GDC or published on Steam and all they got to show for it was a lighter wallet.

It’s perfectly fine if your actual dream is to attend GDC or to publish on Steam or on a certain console. It’s ok to attend GDC if you have the resources, or got a scholarship, or you know what you are getting into. But don’t feel pressured to attend the most expensive game conference there is just because people with more experience told you it was the real deal.

Maybe we should stop selling as a one-size-fits-all solution something that can only be helpful to people with lots of money and the means to spend it. We can’t aim for a more diverse industry while recommending solutions that are only valid for people with resources as if they were universal. Specially if those solutions give us intangible rewards. For instance, people recommend GDC for networking, but not for getting publishers or promote your game. That means that, when they advise you to attend GDC they are asking of you to spend 2000USD on a pass, plus the worth of a plane ticket to San Francisco, plus whatever accommodations cost, just for networking.

There’s also the issue of sending devs from third world countries from an industry that’s going through a good period for addressing ethical questions about working on videogames to a place that doesn’t pay their speakers, doesn’t give diversity issues the same weight as the rest of their talks, hosts anti-union panels and talks that pretend the ethical regulations of abusive practices are censorship.

I understand that people recommend giant events and giant platforms with an equally large public because there’s legitimacy in numbers, but it’s irresponsible to ask people to drive into bankruptcy to scrape off a litlle bit of legitimacy. It may be better for developers and consummers to support more sustainable events and platforms.

There are events that are more budget friendly and inclusive than GDC, as well as there are platforms that are fairer and more democratic than Steam. For instance, Oklhos (Coffee Powered Machine, 2016) got a publishing deal with Devolver by attending BIG Festival. Several people make videogames in a sustainable maner with the help of itch.io and patreon.

It’s important that we assume our identity as developers from third world countries and we strengthen bonds with people who shares our circumstances. We know that first world countries export their solutions to underdeveloped countries once they start to fail. So let’s start working on solutions of our own. It’s going to work better than adapting the failed solutions of a third party that also grows money on trees.

Note from the author: we are working on a calendar for videogame events that focuses on affordability, diversity and being different. We intend to keep it updated constantly and add events from all of Latin America, so if you know of any you can contact us through our form, on Twitter, with smoke signals, whatever floats your boat. As soon as we have a link, we are going to put it here and share it on our social networks.

Update (3/14/2018): We corrected with sales, where it originally said profit.

Arc Symphony: Building Our Identity One JRPG at a Time

SPOILERS: This article contains spoilers about Arc Symphony.

Arc Symphony (2017) is an interactive piece by Sophia Park and Penelope Evans. Like the works covered in Love in Times of BBS, it portrays interpersonal relationships in the first internet communities, but instead of focusing on a general interests community, it shows us a community obsessed with Arc Symphony, an imaginary PSX JRPG.

Continue reading Arc Symphony: Building Our Identity One JRPG at a Time

Which is the industry we want?

Cover by crysanthema.

At the inaugural panel of last year’s Meet the Devs a lot of panelists agreed that the videogame industry is composed not only by companies, but also by indies, hobbyists, academic institutions, and the specialized press and critique. This statement, that I still hear nowadays, worries me, because it presents several issues from a moral standpoint, and because stacking several different things together as if they were part of a whole makes for poor analysis and clumsy critical thinking.. Continue reading Which is the industry we want?

Ladykiller in a Bind: Revindicating Kink

NSFW: In this article we talk about sex, sexuality and we will show screenshots of games containing people showing their titties and being stark naked, so reading this at work might not be a good idea.

Ladykiller in a Bind is an erotic Visual Novel (VN) made by Christine Love, published on Steam on January 9, several months after its release at the Humble Store on October 10th. The delay was due to its erotic and queer content, because Steam’s policies are unclear about which kink it wants to distribute and which kink it wants to play fool with.

Continue reading Ladykiller in a Bind: Revindicating Kink

PSA: About GDC and the ways of exclusion

A while ago FundAV reopened their grants that deliver an All Access Pass for the GDC, only this time they were reopened just for women, because the entity that grants the passes decided that the male quota was covered and the remaining beneficiaries had to be women, since they were aiming for a quota of 50% male beneficiaries and 50% female beneficiaries. That measure was taken because women are a minority in the videogame industry.
Continue reading PSA: About GDC and the ways of exclusion

Cibele: Making Videogames Using the Body

THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS ABOUT CIBELE

In her blog, Amanda Palmer (singer, songwriter and writer) explains that when we create art, we put our experiences in a blender, and the higher the setting, the experiences that inspired our work become less visible. Cibele (2015) is a videogame by Nina Freeman (poet and game designer) about emotional and sexual relationships that develop over the internet, that is characterized for having set the blender at its lowest setting. In the game we’re Nina when she was 19 years old and she played an MMO with a cute aesthetic akin to the one found in Ragnarök Online (Gravity, 2002). The game is split in two alternating segments. One showcases videos of Nina acting as herself doing real life stuff. The other is interactive and gives us access to Nina’s computer, with pictures, poems and messages created by the author during the period of her life covered by the game.

Continue reading Cibele: Making Videogames Using the Body

(Don’t) Bury Your Gays

SPOILER: This article contains spoilers about Life is Strange and The Last of Us

For decades now the US has had the monopoly of the cultural industry. Most of the music, movies, comics and videogames we consume come from that country or try to imitate their ideology and production values. This presents a twofold issue: First, people who create content give up on any attempts to define, express and share their identity and native characteristics; Second, they reproduce a conservative ideological machine created and sustained by bigoted old men. For instance, the Academy, which gives out the Oscars, is composed by an overwhelming majority of white men over 60.

Other examples of conservatism in the cultural industries of the US are the Hays Code and the Comics Code Authority, codes which defined the moral standards for cinema and comics and that all commercial works had to follow to be distributed. Both codes were created by the heads of their respective industries due to fear that the groups advocating for censorship would give them bad publicity and hurt sales. The Hays Code was adopted in 1934 and the Comics Code Authority in 1954. Although neither is officially enforced today, the ideologies they put forth continue to perpetuate themselves in modern cultural industries, sometimes in the shape of the “Bury Your Gays” trope.

Continue reading (Don’t) Bury Your Gays

DOBOTONE: One Console to Rule Them All

DOBOTONE is a party game made by the Argentinians behind VIDEOGAMO. It consists of a console plugged into a projector and four controllers with two buttons each. The console allows you to switch between mini games and allows you to control in-game variables like gravity, zoom, and video distortions. The console’s design and its controllers seem inspired by old consoles like the Magnavox Odyssey, which also had integrated mini games. The retro aesthetics and the diversity induced by the person in charge of controlling the console keep the game interesting.
Continue reading DOBOTONE: One Console to Rule Them All