This week the 15th annual Game Developers Conference kicked off in San Francisco, California.
The world’s ‘largest and longest-running professionals-only (debatable) game industry event’.
Among the attendees was notable developer and industry-legend Tim Schafer, notable for much-loved games such as ‘Psychonauts’ and ‘Grim Fandango‘.
Schafer was chosen to host the ‘Game Developers Choice Awards’ again after hosting last year along with Nathan Vella, founder of Capy Games.
The night went rather smoothly, with ‘Monument Valley‘ taking home 3 awards including ‘Best Mobile/Handheld Game’ and ‘Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor’ winning ‘Game of the Year’.
That is until Tim took to the stage and delivered a ‘joke’ that rustled the jimmies of thousands of gamers and sent Twitter into a frenzy.
“..Visual art for games has become more and more complex, whole teams are required to create assets for games that historically were made by a single artist.” Schafer began. “These days it could take up to 8 people to make a single piece of armour.”
Suddenly his hand arose, revealing a tacky sock puppet that he had been concealing under the podium.
“Ooh! How many GamerGaters does it take to make a single piece of armour”? squawked the puppet. “Oh god, I don’t know.” replied Schafer with a sigh. “Fifty. One to do the modelling, One to do the materials and forty to tweet that it’s #NotYourShield.”
He was met with a half-hearted applause and a barely audible laugh from a few audience members before continuing.
“Again, I can not be blamed for what the puppet says.” He finished.
First of all, Tim, learn to fucking count.
No wonder you can’t manage your company’s funds.
I’m sure you were up all night rehearsing that little skit and you still choked when it came time to deliver it, stammering like it was amateur hour at a comedy club.
For those not aware, #NotYourShield was a movement formed shortly after the GamerGate controversy that started last year, a consumer revolt against corruption in video game journalism and the growing influence of political ‘social justice’ culture being injected into the video gaming scene.
After a number of published defamatory articles (more like hit-pieces) from notable websites claimed gamers were ‘dead’ and made up of socially awkward white males, the #NotYourShield hash tag was created to give female and minority gamers a voice.
Prominent figures opposed to GamerGate were quick to dismiss the presence of female and minority GamerGate supporters, labelling them as ‘sock puppet accounts’. (Hence the sock puppet)
This led to an overwhelming amount of twitter photos from the #NotYourShield hash tag, to put faces to the voices that dared to stand up for themselves.
It didn’t take long until Tim Schafer was a trending topic on Twitter and many gamers didn’t hesitate to share their feelings about Tim’s little joke.
But it wasn’t only gamers , many developers also expressed their disapproval.
Among them was ‘Earthworm Jim‘ creator, Doug TeNapel, who offered his support.
“Not that a
#notyourshield-er needs a shield, but #Ioffermyshield“.
“..I don’t join any movement but I agree with GGers on these: 1. They’re anti peer pressure 2. They’re against corrupt journalism“.
When Schafer first launched his campaign on KickStarter for his newest title ‘Broken Age‘, back in 2012, he asked for $400,000 to complete the project.
He reached his goal quite quickly but the funds continued to pour in, eventually leading to 8x the amount he originally asked for.
Tim promised that the extra funds would go into increasing the game’s production value and a documentary of the development process would also be produced.
But in 2013 Schafer announced that he had somehow gone over budget and that his company, Double Fine, would need more funds to properly deliver the project, ouch.
Rather than ask for further handouts, Double Fine decided to split the project into 2 acts, using the profits from the sales of Act 1 to properly finish Act 2.
Act 2 however, was then delayed until late 2014, but still has not seen release even today.
“If I were to go to a publisher right now and pitch an adventure game, they’d laugh in my face.” says Schafer in his KickStarter’s video pitch.
However Activision CEO Bobby Kotick shared some interesting details that suggest Schafer’s history with publishers may not be so black and white.
“Tim Schafer. The guy comes out and says I’m a prick. I’ve never met him in my life — I’ve never had anything to do with him, I never had any involvement in the Vivendi project that they were doing, ‘Brütal Legend’, other than I was in one meeting where the guys looked at it and said, ‘He’s late, he’s missed every milestone, he’s overspent the budget and it doesn’t seem like a good game. We’re going to cancel it.”
It’s poor statements like Schafer’s that are continuing to fuel the GamerGate fire, proving that there is a growing divide between gamers, developers and some of the gaming press.
Tim’s joke not only makes no sense, but it mocks these people and denies their very existence in the industry.
It denies them their right to be heard and their right to disagree with the gaming press and self-appointed voices for minorities.
It’s a huge middle-finger to passionate people that just want gaming to be better as a whole, people that are sick of being branded ‘racists’. ‘misogynists’ and ‘violent’ simply for enjoying the games they’ve been playing for decades.
I wonder how many #NotYourShield supporters were nice enough to financially back Tim’s Kickstarter campaign for ‘Broken Age’ back in 2012 only to be spat on by his insensitive and ignorant comments?
How many are life-long fans feeling betrayed by someone that should know better, someone that they probably looked up to?
‘Broken Age‘ could be an incredible game for all I know, I have not played it.
And I don’t plan to, how can I when buying such a game only supports terrible attitudes like Schafer’s?
Why should I support a developer than denies a voice to gamers that need one most and jokes about it on a public platform?
Does anybody know Tim Schafer’s Steam username? I’d love to gift him a copy of ‘You Need A Budget‘, maybe it will help him manage his next project a little better..