Indie Haven June Developer Roundtable – Are Devs Obligated to Tackle Tough Issues? Laura Kate June 27, 2013 Features We at Indie Haven like to get you as close as possible to the games you love, and the people making them. That’s why every month we aim to bring together a wide selection of of Indie Developers from all walks of life, from BAFTA winners to teenage and student devs, to discuss the hottest issues affecting games, development, coverage and the Indie community. These chats will be broken up into chunks and released across the month, before we start all over again with new developers and new questions. This month we welcome a brand new group of developers to the Roundtable. We’ve got Anna Marsh (Developer at Lady Shotgun games, developers of Buddha Finger), Simon Roth (Developer of the huge Kickstarter success Maia), Ashley Ross (lead developer at OmNomCom and creator of the upcoming game Girl With a Laser Cannon), Gordon Midwood (Creative force behind the brilliant Derrick the Deathfin) and Andrew Roper (Recent University graduate working on the game Lazarus). Holly Keenan (Half of the husband and wife team behind A Virus Named Tom) also joins us toward the end of the Roundtable. If you’re an Indie Dev of any size that would like to take part in a future roundtable, please email Laurak@IndieHaven.com and let us know a little about yourself. The more the merrier. “Does the Indie Dev community have an obligation to tackle issues through games?” Anna Marsh: No. But its nice to see people who do. Andrew Roper: No, but I think tackling issues with games is a good thing and can help make people aware of things they wouldn’t otherwise give a second thought to. Ashley Ross: Not at all. The Indie-Dev community has the obligation to make the games they *want* to. Most people want to make games that tackle issues important, and close to them and that’s good. Andy Esser: There’s no obligation, but I do think Indies are perhaps better equipped to tackle such issues, although not necessarily with the same visibility that AAA studios would get. Simon Roth: I’d like to see more of it, but I don’t think putting any preconceptions on what Indies should or shouldn’t make is healthy. Gordon Midwood: Everybody is free to express themselves. Laura Kate: Do you think it would be a benefit to the industry if more people chose to use games to express themselves in that way, if they have an issue to tackle? Anna Marsh: Agree with Andy. At one big company I worked at a game which referenced abortion, which had been going down really well with the big wigs, got dropped like a brick when one of the developers was daft enough to mention abortion. All because the board didn’t want the controversy. Ashley Ross: It can be a good outlet, but beneficial to the industry? I’m not sure. Andy Esser: Like any artistic medium, the artist is free to express whatever they want. Be it pain, suffering, love, affection, loss, gain or if they just felt like whacking some paint onto a canvas and seeing what sticks. Anna Marsh: I don’t see why you can’t make a game that deals with issues just as you might make a film or write a book. I’d like to try a little browser game thing actually that is a “serious” game. Andy Esser: There are zero obligations for anyone to do anything Ashley Ross: Andy hit the nail on the head there. Andrew Roper: I’m not sure on whether it would be a benefit to the industry or not. It’s a good way to express and expose issues. But like Andy said, no-one has an obligation to do anything. And with that we end another segment of Indie Dev Roundtable here at Indie Haven. Next time we discuss Minecraft’s Rags to Riches narrative and its effect on Indie Development. What did you think of today’s roundtable? Do Developers have an obligation to make use of their freedom to tackle issues? Would you like to see more games tackle a set issue? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @Indie_Haven.