Please read all of this if you start reading or close the webpage now. So, for those of you following the IndiE3 event, you probably noticed a lot of shit hitting the fan over the last 36 hours. If you go to the IndiE3 tumblr, you will see a public apology providing a vague explanation and a public apology.
Panels started on Tuesday. On Monday, there was a bad incident in the streams that completely flew past me. I won’t go into more detail, because we don’t want to bring issues for the people involved. I will say though, that it was a combination of our own failues that caused it.
– Zolani Stewart (@Fengxii via Twitter) Assistant Organizer via the IndiE3 Tumblr, June 11th 2014
At this point it is rather obvious that some serious shit went down and caused a wide backlash. Many people were offended by said incident, even to the point where Indie Haven withdrew their support for the event. They discuss their reasons for their withdraw here, which are fully understandable. Their statement did, however, go a little further into explaining the crux of the incident.
We will keep details here brief, but an unnamed video game streamer this evening had a very disappointing experience on the main IndiE3 stream. To keep things brief her gender was called into question in an increasingly aggressive and unwelcoming chat box, with numerous fast flowing comments and not nearly an adequate number of moderators to handle the situation. While this was not the fault of the organisers, the short term organisation meant it was near impossible to handle. (…)
(…) As a site with an unusually high number of non binary, gay and transgender writing staff this is an issue of great personal importance to us and, in the light of a growing number of issues regarding the event, we felt the only way to make things right to the streamer and anyone else effected by these issues was to withdraw our support as a site. We don’t like anyone being made to feel uncomfortable because of misgendering and questions of gender, regardless of if they are Trans, Cisgender or neither.
-Laura Kate, Content Editor for Indie Haven, June 11th 2014
As an individual with a number of friends and family members within the LGBT community, I am upset, though not shocked, that this incident occurred. While the Indie Gaming Community has members coming from all walks of life, this is an event that was hastily cobbled together from hashtags and duct tape on the internet. Squeaky B mentioned on Tumblr that this event had no planning, was done as a reaction to E3, and its marketing strategy was one of subversiveness. But, Squeaky also goes on to mention some disagreement over a suggested panel idea that was shoehorned in; so, some of this seems directed at that particular point of divergence.
Referenced in Squeaky B’s post was Parlock, an individual directly influenced by this incident. Reading Parlock’s post about his experience (his contribution is tucked in at the bottom), there is a lot more anger, but it is relevant and worth noting. Parlock is also significantly less optimistic than anyone else about how IndiE3 will proceed. Specifically, he feels it will not and that this marks its failure and ultimate destruction.
This entire thing was a shitshow, and I hate to say it but I’m glad it failed. It wasn’t a constructive or helpful thing, it harboured a lot of bad blood between content creators like myself and indie devs, and has really damaged the indie community because this was, despite what they say, meant to challenge E3. It fell flat on it’s face, a lot of controversy happened and the organisers are now pulling out from the event.
– Parlock via Tumblr, June 11th 2014
Now, first things first. From what I read via the above channels, which admittedly is only a brief summary of what happened, a direct attack was made on someone through the chat stream and there were precious feww moderators appointed to handle the situation. The reason I say I am not shocked, is because it occurred on the internet. Earth is full of assholes, and even though they are not anonymous, people will still post whatever they feel like when they feel they are in the safety of their own homes. Often without a second thought to the consequences of their actions. It is a fact of life in the cyber-world that I find frustrating and despicable, but no less omnipresent. IndiE3’s organizers should have seen something like this coming, but given the hasty nature of its inception, they were too ill-staffed to work all the angles. As a result, multiple someones have had to walk away form the event.
Squeaky’s words were not completely misplaced, but there were a few points I have separate opinions on. IndiE3 was not done as a reaction to E3. It just wasn’t. Inspired by, yes, but not as a reaction. If it truly was done as a reaction, organizers would have gone out of their way to harass as many of E3’s supporters and websites as humanly possible. Now I am not privy to all information about this event, but as I understand, the organizers disclaimed such actions by their supporters. Another statement about its leaders being more interested in appearing subversive than actually leading was thrown in there. Honestly, there is nothing wrong with using a strategy of subversiveness. If I had organized, or a million other people organized IndiE3, the result and Modus Operandi would have been the same: fuck major AAA E3, yay for indie games.
I offer a few ideas for future incarnations of IndiE3. First, take time to plan out the event. I know I would have gladly been a moderator for their channels, had I been off from work. If they would have pushed the schedule over a week, they could have added me to their list. Sure, I would not have stopped everything from happening, but I would have done more than slap people on the wrist. I would have gladly set their ass on fire for poking fun at someone’s gender. That is their goddamn business, let it remain so. Second, why does it have to fall on the week of E3? Could it not be just as easily presented as an after party and not necessarily just a counter-culture version of E3?
I have no personal vested interest in TJ Thomas, Solon, Zolani or any of the organizer’s reputations. I am concerned solely with the reputation of IndiE3. Regardless of who was hurt by what, who all is angry about what was said, or what organization was shit, or who was responsible, consider this: if this IndiE3 fails and collapses like “a sumo wrestler with osteogenesis imperfecta”, as stated by Squeaky B, will we ever get another fucking chance to have an event that showcases the work, time, blood and life that Indie Developers pour into their games, often with no real return on investment? And, yes, this is my fanboy coming out, and yes, this is my personal statement and no one else’s. And yes, this is part of the point of my blog. I came to IndiE3 to hear about some fantastic new Indie Games and, hell, I even directed as many Indie Developers that I could reach in time so they might have a chance at getting their games exposed. Not because I like TJ or any of those other guys. By all rights, I could really give a golden shit about the organizers, but the fact remains the same. Because this event is occurring now, and because this is the only chance we get to have it, we should all be doing what we can to make sure it doesn’t just collapse into dust.
If it dies now, it dies forever. A reputation is not easily mended and no one will go near it. The only option at that point would be hoping a major organizer takes up the mantle, but that would significantly diminish the point. This is an event that should be done by players for players so someone else can’t close it to the public in another ten years, too. Reputation takes a lifetime to build and only seconds to destroy. That quote comes from Robert Dinero in Stardust, and it is 100% true. The reputation of this event is still growing and something like this has the potential to kill it in its infancy. Do not allow this to happen.
IndiE3 is still going on and plenty of great games an discussions are still being showcased. Squeaky and Parlock are entitled to everything they feel and express, but they are two voices that do not speak for everyone and on the health of IndiE3, they couldn’t be more wrong. Indie Haven was right to withdraw their support and walk away, but they never said it was over for a reason. Don’t fucking kill IndiE3, damn you. Keep watching, keep enjoying and keep paying attention, because in the future we want people to say “Yes, Indie3 is still recoverable and doable” not “the IndiE3 concept is too toxic and its audience to immature for something like that to occur ever again”. Don’t just think about the emotions felt and friendships lost today, when what is at stake really is SO MUCH MORE than any of the people involved. Those feelings and friendships may be rent and bleeding now, but that can be healed with time and care. IndiE3 is a unique channel whereby Independent Developers are allowed to connect on a personal level with their players, fans and supporters. Period. Nothing and no one connected to this event matters more. That is why I came to IndiE3.