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Indie Game Jam Show Collapses Due To Interference From "Pepsi Consultant" 465

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the do-the-what-are-you-twelve dept.
Sockatume (732728) writes "Would you like to see a half-million-dollar TV show in which four teams of indie developers and Youtube personalities compete to create amazing videogames? Tough luck, because GAME_JAM from Maker Studios has spectacularly imploded. Although a lot could go wrong with this kind of show, the blame isn't being levelled at game developer egos or project mismanagement but the heroic efforts of one Matti Leshem, a branding consultant brought in for Pepsi. After imposing Mountain Dew branding rules that even banned coffee from the set, his efforts to build a gender divide amongst the teams culminated in the competitors downing their tools and the production collapsing. Accounts from Adriel Wallick, Zoe Quinn, and Robin Arnott are also available."
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Indie Game Jam Show Collapses Due To Interference From "Pepsi Consultant"

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  • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @11:33AM (#46639635) Journal

    We geeks are the doers.

    We make things.

    We create new stuffs.

    We come up with new and exciting ideas.

    But we are *NOT* tools for anyone.

    That "pepsi consultant" can go eat shit and die - if he or she thinks he/she can push geeks to do whatever he/she likes.

    • by Kuroji (990107) <kuroji@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @11:38AM (#46639701)

      The "consultant" thought he would make a name for himself by acting like Gordon Ramsay. Hilariously, he was right, just in the exact opposite of what he hoped for. Unlike the chef, he did nothing to earn any such position and tried to generate strife where there was none.

      • by Dutch Gun (899105) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @12:16PM (#46640075)

        I've been a professional game programmer for quite a while. Yes, female programmers are rare. I've worked with only three or four in the last fifteen years or so if I recall correctly. They're mostly to be found in the art, design, QA, and production/management departments. To be honest, this always made me a little sad, because one of the big strengths of working on teams comes from having different skill sets of course, but also different opinions and viewpoints. As with anyone else, their actual skills varied quite a bit from person to person. But I really don't think it comes down to sexism or anything that people should freak out about - it's just not a job that appeals, for whatever reason, to a large number of women.

        I've never even heard anyone at work malign someone on the job because they were female. Granted, I'm not exactly in the position to hear that sort of thing, but most developers I know don't have that sort of mind set to begin with. They're there because they love making games, and don't really care about whether someone is male or female. It never really made much of a difference to me, at least.

        I'm proud of the devs for not taking the bait and declining to participate in this idiotic "Pepsi Consultant's" little drama show. What a fucking moron.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @01:10PM (#46640669)

          To be honest, this always made me a little sad, because one of the big strengths of working on teams comes from having different skill sets of course, but also different opinions and viewpoints.

          While better than saying, "We don't want women," I think it is odd to see this idea that women should be wanted for a different viewpoint, as opposed to just wanting people in general with different viewpoints. Opinions and viewpoints seem to be largely influenced by upbringing and life experiences. While there are still plenty of women around who were raised differently as girls than a typical boy was, and there are many women around with different experiences than that. There is still plenty of crap that women put up with when older, but experiences vary there too.

          The result is that many of the same things that resulted in men ending up in a male dominated field can often be the same reasons some women get into the field, and there is little to no difference between them as a result, beyond the typical person to person difference. I've known several women who went into engineering, probably in part because they had parents that felt raised them with the attitude, "I don't care if you are a son or daughter, but you should learn how to use basic tools, and if you take an interest, we can work on projects together." As adults, they are not defined as a female engineer, but just as an engineer.

          • by Dutch Gun (899105) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @01:46PM (#46641093)

            While better than saying, "We don't want women," I think it is odd to see this idea that women should be wanted for a different viewpoint, as opposed to just wanting people in general with different viewpoints. Opinions and viewpoints seem to be largely influenced by upbringing and life experiences. While there are still plenty of women around who were raised differently as girls than a typical boy was, and there are many women around with different experiences than that. There is still plenty of crap that women put up with when older, but experiences vary there too.

            The article, if you read it, was largely about an artificial attempt to inject sexism and conflict into the show where none at all existed. Thus, I'm commenting on women's roles as game developers as I've seen it from inside the game industry as a programmer.

            I simply feel that women tend to bring a unique viewpoint to the table. I would never pretend to be able to represent the viewpoint of a black man or a gay man. Nor would I be able to represent the viewpoint of a women, because those factors tend to fundamentally alter one's life experience, giving people unique perspectives. Don't read into it any more than that.

            Anyhow, the entire point of my post was that, in my experience, most game developers *don't* actually give this much thought in a professional environment. We're too busy trying to make fun games that we (and hopefully others) will enjoy. I'm also not claiming sexism hasn't been a problem either - just that I've never seen it personally. All I have is a perspective of one person's life, so take that for what it is.

          • by seebs (15766) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @01:56PM (#46641199) Homepage

            There are pervasive differences in the experience of living in the US based entirely off gender (and others based on, say, race), so having someone female on a team will give you insights into things that an all-male team is extremely unlikely to be aware of. And vice versa, although that's much rarer.

            That people aren't aware of this is, to some extent, part of the problem.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @01:24PM (#46640825)

        This is different. I saw the word 'pepsi' and 'brand management' and knew the pepsi guy was the one who would mess it up.

        Let me regale you of a tale from my younger days. We were having a meeting with the BIG customer Pepsi.

        The lead dev was busy in the basement coding away. He was called and summoned up to the meeting as the BIG customer wanted to ask some questions. He grabs his drink off his desk and walks in. Answers their questions. They are happy, everyone is happy. Until the second meeting.

        'We have decided to fund the project but you can not have that one developer anywhere near the project'.
        The PM leans back in his chair and says 'Why is that?'
        'he brought a coke can into this meeting'
        ''We can do what you ask but the project will never be completed'
        'WHAT *WE* are paying for it'
        'you just fired the lead developer of the project and the only one who knows how to do what you want'.

        I have heard numerous stories like this one about Pepsi. I may like their drinks, but their management is cray cray. Everything is about the brand and not the customer.

      • by whoever57 (658626) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @02:34PM (#46641549) Journal

        The "consultant" thought he would make a name for himself by acting like Gordon Ramsay. Hilariously, he was right, just in the exact opposite of what he hoped for.

        Let me suggest an alternative. The consultant was very smart. He knew that without strife and discord, there would be no show. Nothing that people would watch. Reality programs need drama.

        So, he worked to create strife. He forced the participants to drink Mountain Dew (so, more caffeine than they were used to) in order to get them hyped up. He made deliberately provocative statements. He did everything possible to get the participants out of their comfort zone and arguing with each other, deliberately, in order to make a show that would sell.

        Arguably, although his plan failed, the show might have also failed without his influence, simply because of a lack of drama.

        • by Some_Llama (763766) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @03:46PM (#46642273) Homepage Journal

          "Let me suggest an alternative. The consultant was very smart. He knew that without strife and discord, there would be no show. Nothing that people would watch. Reality programs need drama. "

          Let me offer an opposing view, you didn't read the article and have no idea what you are talking about.

          Since the actual show wasn't a reality show, it was something more akin to "http://www.amctv.com/shows/the-pitch" or home makovers where the homeowner comes back to see their renovation and the show follows the technical aspect of the renovations, there was no need for "manufactured" drama.

          In fact, making an indie game from scratch, involving all the technical aspects from both veterans and novices (the programmers and youtubers respectively), and having to do this on an imposed deadline would create all the "real" drama needed to make the show interesting. Not to mention the inside look at what most people never get to see, creatives making entertainment out of nothing.

          what this douchebag did was take a creative environment, strip all of the creativity out of it and then throw in heaps of sexism, forced strife, corporate policy and "reality" fakey crap (like forcing a game programmer to re-enter a "scene" 5 times to get the "shot").

          the biggest stupidity was that he was just some corporate douche who used the sponsorship ties the program had to force changes he thought would make the program better, he wasn't even someone there to make those decisions, only by throwing his corporate money weight around was he able to get the ones who were in charge of that stuff to concede to his input.

          at the end of the article everyone pretty much agreed if this douche had never been there, there would have been no issue...

          TL:DR the adults would have gotten along fine without this mental 3yr old.

      • by citizenr (871508)

        Umm that "consultant" is a very powerful media exec. He MADE his career doing exactly what he did during this game jam. The difference is he is used to targeting Jersey Shore/reality tv of the week on MTV type of audience, 20 something party all night didnt go to college OMG camera lets scream and show our tits people.

        Matti Leshem is Pepci go to guy when tehy want to reach young and loud retard crowd. He is not going away anywhere. If anything Pepsi will drop the idea of targetting geeks, after all they are

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by tlhIngan (30335)

      That "pepsi consultant" can go eat shit and die - if he or she thinks he/she can push geeks to do whatever he/she likes.

      Well, if the event was sponsored by Pepsi, yes. That's generally one of the conditions for sponsorship.

      Otherwise the event will probably either not happen because there are no funds to organize it, some other sponsor is found (to which one has to follow THEIR rules), or some other form of fundraising is determined.

      It's why sites like Wikipedia don't do advertising - because they refuse to

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      A good allegory to this is the Simpsons episode with the "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show" show. A bit long for my ADD, but makes the point.

    • by NotDrWho (3543773) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @12:21PM (#46640137)

      But we are *NOT* tools for anyone.

      Obviously, you've never been to Silicon Valley. That place is chock full of tools.

  • Would you like to see a half-million-dollar TV show in which four teams of indie developers and Youtube personalities compete to create amazing videogames?

    I'd rather play the game they made as a finished product instead.

  • Is that even English? Seems more like some dystopian futurespeak loosely based on a form of English which has been coopted by media and communications majors.
  • by Altus (1034) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @11:49AM (#46639835) Homepage

    Practically unreadable. It is far too long and contains many run-on sentences. Further it is filled with jargon that is not explained.

    • Yeah, I couldn't figure out if the article just wasn't meant for the general public, like maybe "Indie Statik" is only focused on game developers, and unless you were' heavily into that world, you shouldn't bother reading this.

      I wondered about that because not only was there a lot of jargon, but there strange and unclear metaphors, and there were references to various things that seemed to assume you'd understand the reference. Half the time, I didn't know what the author was talking about. Maybe someone

  • by kheldan (1460303) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @11:50AM (#46639843) Journal
    Honestly, it sounds like it was a monumentally bad idea in the first place. Who thought anyone would even watch such a thing?
    As others have commented: I'd be more interested in the end product of bringing these people together, not watching how they do it.
    • by i kan reed (749298) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @12:28PM (#46640211) Homepage Journal

      The answer is "Some people who aren't you."

      I would, except that the idea of another "drama" filled "reality" snorefest instead of a real documentary would ruin it.

    • by Pentomino (129125)

      It's not that nobody would watch people code for four days. It's that nobody would watch manufactured reality show drama troweled over hour-long chunks of dramatically-edited footage of people coding.

      Well, people would, but at that level of edited reality, it becomes irrelevant what the contestants are actually doing. They could be sorting tiny screws or building Lego sculptures of breakfast foods and the show would be the same.

  • Matti Leshem (Score:4, Informative)

    by Webs 101 (798265) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @11:52AM (#46639877) Homepage
    Gee, he doesn't look like a dick at all!

    http://www.tvrage.com/person/i... [tvrage.com]

  • So you bring in someone from Pepsi and his requirements and strategies are crap and...the whole project collapses? Eliminate the consultant and end the relationship with Pepsi then find a different sponsor. So clearly there's more to it collapsing than just the Pepsi guy.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Read the articles. That was proposed by the sponsors after firing the asshole. However, the devs had lost so much energy and focus due to the jackass that they were pretty confident anything they'd come up with at that point would be crap. Rather than put out crap just to finish, they walked.

  • tldr (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheMiddleRoad (1153113) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @11:58AM (#46639927)

    It opens with paragraphs of him saying how awesome he is. Funk dat.

  • by mveloso (325617) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @12:10PM (#46640031)

    I'm only about a third of the way into the article, and it's already hilarious.

    You generally don't read a lot of crash and burn stories, so this is great. The author needs more drugs, though, and some speed.

    • by mveloso (325617)

      As an aside, it shows how one person can make a difference - whether that difference is negative (in this case) or positive.

  • I would like to point out how buzzword-y the Maker Studios website [makerstudios.com] is.

    Maker is a talent first, technology-driven media company. Entertainment is changing. Millennials are living a mobile, social, on-demand life.

  • by Gothmolly (148874) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @12:15PM (#46640073)

    That's not a thing, that's just a narcissist.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @12:28PM (#46640213)

    So he tried to create a Jerry Springer kind of air by trying to antagonize the teams and getting them to go ad hominem against each other, and those geeks didn't go for it. Wow, who would've thought that geeks care more about content and less about form, more about what a person can do than who they are...

    Matti, in case you're reading this: Don't. Just ... don't. You're not a Jerry Springer. You are, essentially, an oxygen thief.

  • by Oligonicella (659917) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @12:31PM (#46640253)
    Two reasons: One is that abuse on that level deserves walking out on as well as a damned fine finger flip at the stupidity it represents as demonstrated by the articles about what went on. Two is - I just really can't stand "reality" shows with their fabricated hate sessions, created and shoved into production by douches like that guy. I honestly feel that those who go along and make them have some dire moral shortcomings - you know, Bridzillas.
  • "Would you like to see a half-million-dollar TV show in which four teams of indie developers and Youtube personalities compete to create amazing videogames?"

    No. And I can't imagine what drugs somebody was smoking to even think it was a good idea in the first place. It's boring as hell to watch people talk and pound on keyboards. Essentially internal processes (like the excitement of creating a game) are invisible to the third party observer. There's a reason why reality shows are filled with drama real, fake, and everywhere else on the spectrum between the two extremes. That's what pays the bills.

    The production company grasped that, the self absorbed prima-donna "indies" did not. Seriously, when the introductory paragraph and a good chunk of the overall text is the narcissistic writer bragging on himself and how cool the "scene" was... I could see the train wreck coming.

  • by Nanoda (591299) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @01:42PM (#46641055)

    After being incredibly turned off by "reality" shows that contain no reality at all ("Dangerous Flights" is the most egregious example I've seen lately), I was totally absorbed by Penny Arcade's low-budget reality show offering of Strip Search [penny-arcade.com] last year. (The site is slightly misorganized, but you can find stuff if you try).

    The show was a dozen web comic artists in competition. The premise of a single artist being funded and supported by Penny Arcade for a year was motivational, and the simple act of appearing in an episode granted even the entrants ousted first an audience for their work. While it was clear the producers provided for the possibility of backstabbing and conflict, they didn't go out of their way to insert any, and in the end the show was all the better for it. I'd actually put PA's Strip Search above 90% of professional, high-budget, high-production-values TV series.

    My point being, it's totally possible to structure an interesting show where game dev competition is friendly and rewarding for all, and producers with zero-sum on the brain don't exist. It just hasn't been made yet, apparently.

  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @01:46PM (#46641101) Homepage

    After reading all three articles, I'm glad the developers walked out. Now they need to stop apologizing about it. They were recruited by misrepresentation, and when they found out, they didn't like it. They have nothing to apologize for. They don't need to justify their actions. That the sponsor lost $500K is not their problem.

  • Hmm. What got me was that it all fell apart when the Mountan Dewd Bro started instigating sexist shite. [gamasutra.com]

    "Do you think you're at an advantage because you have a pretty girl on your team?"
    and
    "Do you think the teams with women on them are at a disadvantage?"

    As expected the indies didn't putting up with corporate sell-out nonsense or reality-TV false shit-stirring of sexism in games. Marketdroids should have known better. [youtube.com]

    Protip: Developers are not the players. That's really two separate communities, and there is zero barrier to entry, just like romance novel writing. There are far more female romance novelists. There are far more male indie gamedevs. It's not sexist. Different sexes make different choices in general since Men and women are different. [youtube.com] A generalization doesn't limit the individuals who are free to be outliers. To get rid of the sexism and racism we've got to stop looking at things in terms of those constructed identity labels, and focus on what the individuals are actually creating and deciding and experiencing for themselves.

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