Transparency

Bri Leahy, Dave Feldman, and Lance Lockwood at GDC 2015, San Francisco

Bri Leahy, Dave Feldman, and Lance Lockwood at GDC 2015, San Francisco

GDC was awesome for the most part, save the fact I got sick just a day in and have been walking wounded throughout. That said, it was made sweeter still by having both Bri and Lance join me for the conference. Bri took the artist session track mainly, with Lance putting a little more toward the audio. I stuck to analytics, management, and growth.

The very last session was particularly compelling to me — “Embedded Game Journalism: Building Transparency and Trust with the Press (and Your Audience)”

Jeff Pobst of Hidden Path Entertainment presented what was a strikingly risky move by his company to have a Polygon journalist have total access for a project. It was to chronicle the entire lifecycle of a project, Defense Grid 2, from inception to completion, warts and all. It generally worked out well, giving net positive exposure and helping to ensure the game’s success (although to be fair, the game probably would’ve been successful anyway, in my opinion).

In the Q & A to follow, I expressed my appreciation for his taking the risk, but that I also figured it was probably a one-off in that there aren’t likely a lot of journalists descending into game studios everywhere — “and certainly not tiny ones like mine,” I quipped. To my surprise, Pobst joyfully turned that on its head. “I’d challenge you on doing just that. Actually, I keep hearing from journalists that studios turn them down for embedding projects like this.”

Once the session was over, I privately told him, “I accept your challenge,” and we laughed.

As irony would have it, I met a Polygon journalist who was also attending the session, Charlie Hall. I reemphasized my interest in a “transparency project” of some kind to him as I did with Pobst, and offered to send him a copy of our game by this coming Monday.

On a larger note, this session was particularly relevant to the greater theme I took from GDC 2015 for modern indie game studios: BE TRANSPARENT! Which is why I’ve decided to take on a new challenge of blogging once a day, every day for 30 days. It might be eight paragraphs or just a single sentence. Regardless, I’m going to try to build in the habit of blogging nonstop and breaking away from overly perfecting just what I say and how I say it from a business perspective.

Yes, it will be hard given how many hats I’m wearing, but it’s no longer an option in this environment. Making great games is not the real challenge anymore… discovery is.