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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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  • no kidding (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @11:33AM (#46639645)

    Sorry these nerds had to learn the hard way that pretty much everything on TV is fake.

  • 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 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 Sockatume (732728) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @11:50AM (#46639845)

    The programmers didn't make a deal with Pepsi; Maker Studio, a subsidiary of Disney, made the deal with the programmers, and also later made a deal with Pepsi. The half-million dollars burned probably wasn't Pepsi's, but the studio's.

    I suggest reading the article. Any of the four.

  • Re:no kidding (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @11:52AM (#46639871) Homepage Journal

    Sorry these nerds had to learn the hard way that pretty much everything on TV is fake.

    I once tried to figure out what this "reality TV" thing was by watching one of those "tough job" shows. It was clear that the guys had a hard job but also much more clear that the TV people were trying to create drama and rifts where none or very little existed.

    I might have kept watching if it was more about some of the really interesting challenges that the job entailed, but it turned out to be mostly about trying to get this guy to be mad at his boss, show how upset this other guy's wife was that his job required him to be gone for some lengths of time, etc.

    But ... all that aside - these are indie developers and YouTube people who are trying to do something on broadcast TV with a Network get a half-million dollars in sponsorship from Pepsi? Dudes and dudettes - look into this Internet thing. If your idea doesn't suck, fund it on IndieGoGo and make it back with YouTube ads. Then again, maybe there's a reason they didn't go that route in the first place (they could fool Pepsi out of half a million but not ten thousand savvy investors).

  • 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.

  • Re:no kidding (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anrego (830717) * on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @12:01PM (#46639965)

    Totally this.

    Deadliest Catch was actually initially interesting because it focused on the real and technical aspects of doing a legitimately dangerous job. It didn't take long for it to devolve into the typical reality TV pattern of all drama all the time. By the time I stopped watching, the fact that they were on a boat wasn't even that relevant any more.

  • by Cimexus (1355033) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @12:06PM (#46640009)

    Even if it's not used in American English (which honestly, is surprising to me), it's not exactly obtuse or difficult to work it out. Putting ones tools down (and stopping work). What else could it mean? The only possible other interpretation is 'downing', as in 'consuming' ones tools, which obviously doesn't make any sense in this context.

  • by JDG1980 (2438906) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @12:11PM (#46640039)

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

    There's a big difference between putting up Pepsi logos and branding (which everyone involved said they were fine with) and forbidding anyone to use any drink that isn't a Pepsi product, including water and coffee. No one could reasonably have expected the latter going in.

    Nor does corporate sponsorship imply that a "branding consultant" should engage in aggressively sexist behavior that would get someone fired if they did it in any normal white-collar office.

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

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

  • 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.

  • Re:no kidding (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anrego (830717) * on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @12:27PM (#46640197)

    I think it's also a combination of people playing it up for the cameras, and the fact that they are condensing weeks (in some cases more) into 44 minutes (in some cases less). I generally consider myself pretty easy going, but if a film crew followed me around for 2 months, they could probably edit out a 44 minute video that would portray me however they wanted.

  • 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 JDG1980 (2438906) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @12:35PM (#46640295)

    You can't be that dense. This is a media production. You don't get to sign up to play Hamlet, and then demand to be able to drink Pepsi while the cameras are rolling. That's the line between being a programmer and being an actor. These guys signed up to be actors, but they don't want to follow the rules.

    But that's the problem: they didn't sign up to be actors. They were under the impression that this was going to be an actual contest of skill, and it was changed into a "reality show" without their knowledge or consent. This problem first came up when the contracts were signed – a lot of the standard "reality show" boilerplate had to be removed because the devs refused to go along with it. That should have been a heads-up to the studio, but it wasn't.

  • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @12:39PM (#46640321) Journal

    Here's what really happened - these whiny little dorks thought that Pepsi would just throw a few sacks of money at their project and stay out of their way while they looked cool on TV.

    Ah, the clever, wise to the ways of the world slashdotter coming along and telling us all how things really are, because he knows so much about reality.

    corporations want value for their investment

    Well, that worked out well.

    Of course Pepsi is going to send in someone to make sure they're getting something out of it.

    So why instead did they send a guy who singlehandedly sunk it, guaranteeing loss of their investment then?

    So, Mr world wise slashdotter who has so much cynicism and knows the way of the world so very well, how was it a good idea for Pepsi to pour this money down the drain?

  • by i kan reed (749298) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @12:40PM (#46640339) Homepage Journal

    Yeah, I work at a company, and make software. I get paid real US dollars. For the software I make. I don't sell my soul, giving them free advertisement for their crap just because that's where I get my salary. They get my productivity. They don't need my honesty.

  • by i kan reed (749298) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @12:41PM (#46640347) Homepage Journal

    Remember when there were shows about actual reality? They called them documentaries.

  • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @12:58PM (#46640533) Journal

    If you can't stand this shit maybe you should never have agreed to it at all.

    Are you referring to the bit where they negotiated the contract and in fact didn't agree to it all? Or the bit where they didn't agree to it all and walked out?

    Or are you proposing that there is simply be no middle ground to selling your soul to Mephistopholese and simply not being in a video on youtube?

  • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @01:08PM (#46640657) Journal

    Reality check - Pepsi didn't waste money on this.

    Apart from all the sponsorship. That wasn't free, you know.

    The entire project got scrapped before cameras were rolling

    Which only proves you didn't RTFA.

    and now every other corporation knows to stay clear of these whiners because they are hard to work with.

    So? They're indie game developers. I don't think they care that no other giant megacorp is going to want to film them.

  • 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.

  • Are you sure? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SuperKendall (25149) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @02:05PM (#46641277)

    "downing their tools" which is an idiom that is not used in American english.

    I'm American and I didn't have to think about that, I knew what it meant instantly... I don't remember learning it from British sources.

    "Put down your tools" is pretty clear and since English is full of moments where you make up words like "downing", I don't think many people would be confused.

  • by Pope (17780) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @03:33PM (#46642121)

    The main difference is the approach the producers take in the US vs. the UK shows. The US ones are all about highlighting him being confrontational.

    One of the best shows of his I've seen was the kid version of MasterChef. His personality really shone through, by being very supportive of the kids while also focusing his critique on their dishes, rather than them. Well worth a watch IMO.

  • by Wain13001 (1119071) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @04:07PM (#46642451)

    He picked the wrong year to ask his questions in the manner in which he did...also the wrong people. Zoe Quinn has been harassed to the point of blatant abuse by a particularly nasty part of the gamer community...death threats, forum-organized raids, and sexually harassing phone calls to her cell among other things. How she presents herself to the indie community as a woman and a developer is a very big deal at the moment. The indie teams are protective of each other and extremely protective of their individual images among their fans and supporters....this is a very big deal.

    Also the show wasn't originally conceived of as the craptastic mess Matti turned it into once they got started. So okay, this wasn't quite as bad as Matti walking up to a female rape victim and asking her on camera if she thinks "women are asking for it..." but I'm pretty sure from some of the dev's standpoints, it wasn't too far from that either.

  • by citizenr (871508) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @05:51PM (#46643659) Homepage

    While Pepsi may indeed be utter twats, it was fucking poor showing by the developer.

    Show some fucking respect for your client.

    Exactly, Dance monkeys DANCE!

You know, the difference between this company and the Titanic is that the Titanic had paying customers.

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