I’m a bit flabbergasted by the “indie clique” commentary that’s been floating around the twittersphere today. Not being a successful/rich/famous developer, it would seem that I should be on the outside looking in on this “clique,” but it hasn’t felt that way in my experiences meeting these developers. I went to GDC this last March (my first and only event meeting game developers on a large scale, even after years of working on games on my own), and I could see how people got this perception. There are definitely groups of successful developers who meet and talk at these events together; and rightfully so. They know each other, have had similar experiences to one another, and go to these events often primarily to talk to these friends.
The surprising fact is that lesser-known developers (who don’t know these successful developers in any way other than their work) have an expectation that the developer should talk to them as they would anyone else. This expectation is unfair. These developers aren’t intentionally being “cliquey,” just the way that you’re not being “cliquey” when you go to a bar to sit and talk with your friends. The main difference is that you don’t have random people who also came to the bar staring at your group of friends and jealously wishing they could be a part of
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your conversation and group.
I went to a panel a little over a year ago that included an EA lead designer, and I asked what he thought about indies. He said he doesn’t like talking about “indies” because he thinks it’s used to identify indie elitists and not the independent gaming sphere in general. This was my first, real introduction to this idea, and I’m still surprised that I first heard it out of the mouth of a AAA game designer. This, to me, says that this idea seems to be farther reaching than I’d thought… And I’m afraid that it’ll continue to be something that people quietly and unfairly hate about successful indies.