In this episode of Counterweight, Eric Brasure and Joel “HM” Goodwin discuss the rise of personality and celebrity in indie game culture. Developers are finally being recognised as individuals – but not everyone can be Notch.


01:20 “How many times do they say the word Mario in this movie?”

08:40 “You just don’t eat for about three years and you’ll be a millionaire at the end of it.”

10:20 “I think it would be really instructive to follow the failures… to see what happens to people who don’t make it.”

14:40 “[Twitter] really has exploded the concept of the personality as opposed to the art the person is making.”

18:20 “I don’t think that the mass market cares so much about what they’re making to really buy into the cult of personality.”

24:50 “Well, what did you expect?”

33:40 “How much more interesting would Indie Game: The Movie had been if Anna Anthropy had been a subject?”

37:40 “It’s a bit strange to feel that solidifying around you.”

43:50 “Richard [Hofmeier] doesn’t really like having all the attention but that act he did will actually increase his reputation.”

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11 thoughts on “Counterweight 4: Cult of Personality

  1. I promise, by golly I promise, to try to cut down on my “like” and “you know” alternatives to “uhhh”. I am very sorry for what I do to your ears in this respect.

  2. This is a good discussion. Especially in light of the “just make a great game AND YOU’LL BE RICH” fallacy having re-emerged recently.

    I’ve always been kind of aware of this issue of trying to balance the dual purposes of twitter as a way to chat with friends and a *MARKETING TOOL*. This may seem surprising since I do tweet a lot of random crap, but it’s very much a filtered version of myself that I present there, there are topics I just don’t tweet about, I’m careful what I say in public places. But even though I’ve had this in mind the whole time I’ve been doing this.. it’s changed recently, my follower count doubled in the last few months and suddenly it’s a very different sort of place to hang out – I get replies from people I don’t know, it’s not just me and my friends anymore. So uh yeah, this is exciting, I’m gradually getting somewhere with this indie thing, but some things are lost along the way and I have to think about what to make of that.

  3. Yes I think Eric and I could have talked for a lot longer but we don’t like to go over 45 minutes. It’s weird to for me to watch people climb up and leap over me in terms of Twitter followers – Richard Hofmeier was a great example as I noticed the exact moment it happened – because you know as they ascend, they’re thrusting into a different kind of Twitter space. It’s also been interesting to see Mike Bithell learning on the fly, discovering that you have to treat Twitter differently.

    I do kind of miss the old days of when it was just my friends because, you know what, I could read and respond to everything I saw. As I said in the podcast, I’m only around 500 followers but it’s plenty different already. I must admit I feel less chatty than I used to although some of that is down to time constraints.

    This is the reason, of course, why people separate work from life. Some people try to separate the personal Twitter from the studio Twitter but it’s pretty hard to do when it’s just yourself running things. But we like to follow people more, so I think your personal stream is where people want to be rather than a neutered company account. I should check the number of followers of TimOfLegend vs Double Fine.

  4. I think if you write the word “people” too many times in a comment it loses its meaning. Yikes.

  5. @Michael Brough: I’ve never really been able to figure out Twitter, and I do am starting to attract some… strange… followers, and I start to panic and think “I can’t tweet that what if HE unfollows me” but then I think “well, it’s just Twitter, aren’t we all just killing time until we die?”

    I too have lines that I don’t cross on Twitter, like, I doubt that anyone would really be able to figure out anything about my personal life or what is going on on a day-to-day basis based on my Twitter feed. Of course I’m not saying that people that use it that way are wrong.

    I guess my point is, figure out what you want to get out of Twitter and then use it in a way that will get you there. If it starts feeling uncomfortable, think about whether or not your goals have changed.

    Good advice for life, really.

  6. The changing meanings of the word “people” every time it appeared in that comment:

    1. people
    2. people
    3. cooking implements
    4. shiny objects
    5. fish (not Phil)

  7. That was a good listen, sirs. In all fairness, I don’t see how you could avoid making the people you discuss come off as commodities when you don’t even know a lot of them.

    Rock Paper Shotgun’s view of Indie Game: The Movie considered Phil Fish to be a kind of personality black hole that reshaped the movie around him, and these are guys whose website reaps most of its value from running personality and news together. The thought of seeing that kind of turned me off, as did the preview showing Ed McMillen being very dramatically serious when everything else I’d seen of him said otherwise. I know it’s probably the kind of film that trailers poorly, but even without that, these are all stories I’ve already heard.

    I wrote you a theme song.

    People people
    Like people
    Umm people
    Umm you know
    People people
    Umm people
    Like like
    You umm

    Very tribal.

  8. It’s funny you should talk about this as this has been my main concern for months now.

    Not on Twitter, where I am a relatively unknown entity, something I am fine with as I only go on there to see what other people are doing and see what press releases are coming out from indie developers I like.

    No, where the problem arises is on facebook. The difference being that on Twitter I am badgercommander or AJ and that is fine because the barrier between my personal and professional life, and my writing life is well defined. On facebook I am actually me, most of the people I have connections to are people that I have met in real life. I link to stuff I have written but that is it. All discussion of the writing tends to be through the Arcadian Rhythms facebook page or on the site itself.

    When Beam tracked me down on facebook and added me, my heart jumped into my throat and I had a mild panic attack. That got way worse when some people set up a popular youtube video series and mentioned both my first and last name and then associated it with badgercommander. That pretty much gave my site the death sentence as I had a little breakdown and didn’t write anything on it for 4 or 5 months. Then people I had never met started trying to add me on Facebook because of this and I have become increasingly reclusive as a result.

    Anyway back to work.

  9. @badgercommander:
    I think I did so with everyone from Arcadian Rhythms since I only had to find one of you, and all of us liked Electron Dance’s Facebook page so that was pretty simple. But I do apologize for giving you a scare!

    I actually remember seeing a few episodes of said YouTube series where they mentioned your name without connecting it to badgercommander, but your love of MindJack gave it away to me before then. I do think they weren’t considering the kind of freakshow they would send your way (because mockery and hatred are rarely separate on YouTube), which is a shame since your blog was great.

  10. @Beam – Don’t worry about it, I had a similar panic attack when HM emailed me to meet up in London for the first time. Ignoring the fact that my email address was actually on my website at the time.

    In some ways I think they thought they were doing me some kind of favour, boosting my traffic and getting people to look at my site. For me, it was just too much and I kind of freaked out. I actually considered quitting writing entirely, it was all fun and games when my audience was a tiny number of people but the idea of people actually paying attention to my writing had me in fits.

  11. @Beam: I didn’t hate the movie. Eric hated the movie. Let’s get that clear. I thought it wasn’t bad. There are a lot of moments like that which you mention – it’s very manufactured – but to be honest if you’re into indie games and their developers LIKE EVERY SERIOUS ELECTRON DANCE READER SHOULD then I don’t think you’re going to get too much from the movie.

    @BC: I had no idea my e-mail (back in 2010?) caused a mini-heart attack! It’s nice to be anonymous in a way and not give a shit about your writing. I mean that in a good way- not to have to think about treading on the wrong toes or inviting a shitstorm down on your site. Blogs and Twitter are heralded as the epitome of self-expression and freedom.

    Except they forget to factor in the society. And Hell… Hell is other fucking people. Society is its own straitjacket.

    I don’t know if I have a point here but it felt good to whine.

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