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Friday
Feb292008

Grassroots Gamemaster's Proposal

Grassroots Gamemaster has stirred up a lot of trouble and almost everyone hates him. I'm really confused why people hate him, but I think it's because they are reacting to the surface level antagonism he has. If you look past that to his actual message, it's really good. As I said before, "Sign me up."

If you'd like to know what his message is, a week ago I would have told you to read like 50 different things he wrote. But now you can just forget all that and read one post where he sums everything up. He even wrote this one without the usual antagonism, so maybe people will be able to hear the message this time.

Even still, because this is the internet, we know many people will still hate him. Many of them will show up in the comments of this very post and hate him. Here is what an anti-Grassroots Gamemaster platform would look like:

1) No passionate advocacy. Games will turn out better if there's no one behind them who passionately believes in the point of the game and drives it forward. Better to follow the lead of, say, a shoe factory. (Note: there will still be shoe factory game companies no matter what, don't worry.)
2)  Geniuses really are mild-mannered and agreeable (or "we don't need the other kind because the supply of mild-mannered ones is plenty!"). Sure David Lynch and Isaac Newton are/were hard to work with, but we don't need their contributions.

3) Let's not get the best people for the job. You're going to say this is deep in the territory of straw-man argument, but it really isn't. GRGM says ignore who works which company and get the people from anywhere, in any field, who are most aligned in passion and skill with what you need. Don't have a system where you then expect them to work on whatever it is that happens to be the next project. To disagree with this, you'd have to say that it's better to use whoever you happen to have at your company for whatever project you happen to do. Or if you say you can recruit the geniuses who are exactly right, you'd have to then argue that it's fine to keep them on staff indefinitely (what if they are AI specialists or WW2 history buffs and your next game doesn't use their skills?) and that they will even accept the notion of you choosing their next projects for them.

I'm sure you'll come up with even more creative objections. Sometimes, though, somebody comes along and says some frankly obvious stuff and it's hard to say "yeah, that's pretty much right." Consider that maybe this is one of those times. And also know that even in the most rosy of futures, you'll have your movie tie-in games kicked out the door by someone, just like always. But there's money to be made by doing this this other way, too.

Discussions of how you hate GRGM are pointless. You should either discuss how he or the industry can make this happen, or just get out of the way. Don't be Fred Smith's college professor in 1965 who gave him a C on his paper a new idea called Federal Express. And don't be like Art Linkletter who in 1954 laughed at Walt Disney's advice to buy up property around a new park called Disneyland. Sometimes a new idea or new way of doing things really is good.

--Sirlin

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