Last timeI wrote an Indienalysis (sorry about last week, I was in a field with no internet) I said something rather stupid. I was quite rightly called out on this mistake and have updated the article. The problem was that I didn’t think carefully enough about what I was saying, and how that related to what I actually meant. You’d have thought that, being a writer, this shouldn’t be too hard for me but there you go.

Here’s the stupid thing I said, in reference to the creators of RollerCoaster Tycoon® 4 Mobile™ (the official name, don’t ya know):

“Everyone involved in the project is fired and sets up a company together whose sole purpose is to spend the rest of their days atoning for this crap-sack of an excuse for a game.”

The problem being that (if you go by what I wrote) I hoped that everyone involved with the project would be fired. This includes programmers, artists, admin etc. What this translates to is that an awful lot of people who had absolutely no control over the things which made me hate the idea of the game so much.

What I actually meant was that those people ultimately responsible for the reprehensible business-model should lose their jobs, or at least get the hell out of the industry mostly because people who think games like RollerCoaster Tycoon® 4 Mobile™ are a great idea are people that I don’t want anywhere near things I like.

The point I’m making is, when asked who exactly I wanted to be fired, I didn’t really have any idea. Who in the process of making a video game is responsible for this? My first thought was game designers, but it was then pointed out to me that designers are often as limited as programmers and artists when it comes to shaping the game as a whole. So who the hell is to I blame? Who’s responsible?

The answer is hard to pin down. It could be from any part of the industry machine. Maybe the ideas come from within the development studio, but then those ideas need to be given the ok by others, probably working for the publisher.

No one person or group can be held accountable for decisions like this, the decision making system is just too complex. Even when someone is fired or resigns over a decision I’m willing to bet they’re being made a scapegoat to take the heat off the companies involved. It’s this lack of accountability (I think) that is responsible for many of the stupid and toxic decisions made by big publishers – or developers hiding within their protective umbrella – because the decision makers know that it can never be pinned on them. They just think up any old shit and chuck it at customers to see what sticks.

This is yet another reason why I think indie games (or at least a development cycle with “indie” sensibilities) are a much better prospect for games in the future. Creators have much more control over their creations when the number of people involved is reduced, allowing them to exercise their creativity to a much greater extent; hooray for art and all that. What it also does is give a clear indicator of who is accountable for the finished product, be it good or bad. It’s this increased accountability which fosters increased responsibility on the part of the developer.

Of course there are downsides to this. Without that protection from immediate feedback things can go very wrong very quickly: Zoe Quinn, Phil Fish and Dong Nguyen spring to mind although there are countless other examples. All of these people have been personally attacked over games they’ve made precisely because they were easily identified as being accountable for their creations. Also no, I don’t care what your opinions are on the people I’ve mentioned, it’s undeniable they were attacked over their games, what you think about the individual cases is your own affair so keep it to yourself.

However, when you consider both models of accountability as a whole, creators being held accountable for their work can only a much better thing for the industry and video games as a medium. Ultimately I hope those that are unfit to do their jobs (either through incompetence or a poisonous attitude to games) get the hell out of those jobs and those that just want to make a positive contribution to the industry are able to do so while making enough money to live on.