A Potato Manifesto

So after a lot of soul searching (Well, business planning) I’ve kind of found out what we’re about.

I want to create games that represent my local community. For many years I’ve been in the company with a lot different well, geeks and nerds. A lot of ideas have floated around- “Oh wouldn’t it be great if someone did this”, or “Hey I had an idea for this”

Unfortunately as we all know, ideas are worth nothing, and implementation is worth everything. It’s not about who came up with something, it’s about whoever did all the work.

But as geeks, we glorify the originators. Stan Lee. George Lucas. Ray Bradbury. These guys are all titans of IP, masters of the current media world. Yet the people who have done the most work to make them wealthy and powerful, the video effects artists, are broken and forgotten. They’re being outsourced over seas, or forced to hop from job to job as studios chase down localized subsidies. The only people left really are ILM and Pixar..and they’re all owned by Disney.

http://library.creativecow.net/kaufman_debra/VFX_Crossroads-1/1
It’s already happened. There’s not much to do there. The industry might be able to save itself if it formed a union, but the leadership just isn’t there. It left to go get better jobs.

The same thing is beginning to happen with games companies. I want to help prevent that apocalypse. With Robotic Potato, I want people to know how our games our made, what techniques are used, and who made them. I want these people to be working for fair wages, and if that’s not available, fair hours.

Loyal people should be rewarded with loyalty. If someone did a good job, and we sell a good game, it shouldn’t be forgotten. We shouldn’t just close shop and move on. Instead, we need to reinvest and reiterate. The best game companies already do this: Valve, Blizzard, just to name a few. You don’t see mass purges, or crazy attempts to keep up with the latest marketing data. Just consistently polished efforts from people that have been allowed to develop their craft in peace.

Everyone says they want to be Valve or Blizzard of course. And if it were that easy, we’d have a lot more of them. So instead, I’ll try this philosophy for size:

Treat your employees and workers (And Contractors) well. Use the same people consistently. Hire within the company and the community. Develop skill over time. Work long-term in an agile fashion to improve the craftsmanship on existing projects and IPs, rather than following the latest trends. Don’t be a slave to the AAA holiday release schedule. Support games after release.

I wish game-industry workers could form a union, but honestly that’s about as realistic as herding cats and liable to be as just as successful. Most game workers are fresh out of college on a steady diet of Mountain Dew and South Park. The sheer contempt for hippie-liberal ideas like ‘unions’ is palpable. They think the cut-throat competition in games is some kind of hyper-meritocracy, when in fact it’s more like the Hunger Games. The only winners are the audience and the show runners.

A union can happen if ethical companies provide a safe space for them to start. There needs to be a place that employs people long enough to get used to working 9-5, having sick days, vacation, families and pregnancy leave. A place where people aren’t afraid to put down roots. A defensible place to fight back against the ruthlessly corporatizing force of the AAA industry.

I want to make that company, and I want to make the stellar quality games necessary to keep it alive and ticking against AAA giants. I want to believe that craftsmen working in humane and happy conditions perform better than hordes of unspent human batteries tossed into an engine of marketing and bad programming. I want to believe that customers can learn the human face of the people who make games, and make their purchasing decisions accordingly.

I’ve always laughed at the hipster purveyors of organic farms, but now I think I know where they’re coming from. People want to do good and support good people, and consumers are willing to pay for it.

I’ll close my thoughts with a sample motto. Don’t hold me to it.

Robotic Potato Games
Ethically sourced, organically raised.

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