• Welcome to droqen's forum-shaped notebook. Please log in.

i want art to be free.

Started by droqen, July 16, 2022, 10:52:52 PM

Previous topic - Next topic


The first console I ever owned was the Nintendo GameCube. It was an interactive museum that lived in our basement, and all we had to do was buy the games as they came out. Majora's Mask and Beyond Good & Evil were incredible adventures. Animal Crossing was a fucking revelation. Great games couldn't come out fast enough. I wanted to be a part of this world.

I never opened a childhood lemonade stand, but when I was in grade 5, I made this game called Ghost Hunter in Game Maker and I had thoughts of finishing it and selling it on floppy disks to my friends. (I recreated Ghost Hunter to the best of my memory in Godot. It's not good, but if you want a hit of 2001-era Game Maker nostalgia, you can dig it up on my itch page.) Even back then, it was about money. I didn't want the money, I wanted what it represented: legitimacy.

In 2010, Newgrounds sponsored ​Fishbane. They gave me a thousand dollars, and I got the front page treatment and everything. It blew my mind. I kept making games and people kept noticing them. In 2013, Starseed Pilgrim was nominated for a couple IGF awards, I released it on Steam, I made a HUNDRED thousand dollars, and it felt like I got the front page treatment a hundred times over, too. Everybody wanted to talk about me and my game. I got what I had always wanted: LEGITIMACY.


When I was very young, my dad introduced me to computer programming and computer games and the internet. I grew up with burned CDs and emulators and ROMs and a high-speed connection. Cave Story and A Link To The Past were not different (free game vs commercial game). Pretty much every piece of software was. It barely occurred to me that there could be such a vast gulf between a free game and a commercial first-party Nintendo game when they were both so full of fun and love, they both belonged to the same art form.

They were peers.


NFTs. Fucking NFTs. I think they broke me.


It all began to unravel, slowly, over years.

The INDIEPOCALYPSE, then the miserable monetization discourse followed and never let up: Here is what you have to do to make money with your "indie game," and if you're not prioritizing that then you're a fucking idiot.

The shockwaves of "You should charge for your work, you're worth it"

My experience with the Gloam Collective (we really tried) and Ontario Creates and engaging with the industry at large. Steam. The Humble Bundle.

Microtransactions. Addictive games. Algorithms.

NFTs pushed it all over the tipping point: digital art is worth nothing if it doesn't have resale value. Ouch.


I started to realize that I had to let go of this fantasy where videogames were wrapped up in the meaning of money. What else could they be wrapped up in, instead? We started writing the letterclub; I started Paradise; I'm still waiting for my library hold on Mutual Aid to come through so I can actually read it (but I daydreamt, in the meantime, about how making art and appreciating art might be a form of mutual aid - we all want to listen and be listened to)... [UPDATE: I read Mutual Aid]

Oh, and I started and stopped a Patreon over the course of three years. It felt weirdly transactional, because I made it weirdly transactional, because my evaluation of what made games valuable had been wrapped up in this transactional commercial videogames industry. I'm planning to start it up again on a strictly tip jar basis, once I really figure out I'm committed to this "free art" thing.


Somehow I learned that the world does not only have startups and funding options and entrepreneurs and business mentors and bizdevs... but that Arts Grants exist, that even in the absence of a Fully Automated Luxury Communist society the government* will at least pay people ("artists") to explore weird shit - not because it's good shit, but just because (???).

(*The Canadian government has Arts Grants. I barely know about this, and I know nothing about other countries. But I'm hopeful about the future - that these types of things will become more mainstream here and elsewhere in the world. If nothing else it is inspiring to me that there are people who exist who care about making this stuff happen.)

To be honest it's still really hard to wrap my head around the concept that money doesn't solely exist to... I don't know, make more money? Arts Funding makes no sense at all to the capitalist mind, I guess.

I've been poisoned, but I'm getting better.

I'm making myself get better.

Friends are helping.