The most unpopular opinion on itch.io


Ok, this is probably going to be the most incendiary post I have written on itch.io. It's act of arson, in a manner of speaking of course. Now, my antipathy against Fortnite is, at this point, well known. Yet, that's far from an unpopular opinion on itch.io. No, it has to be a bit more bold than that.

Ready? Here we go: In my honest opinion, I'm just not impressed by the offerings on itch.io at large. A lot of it is game jammy kind of er... games which are very constrained: These are all games that could have been lengthier, told more story, be more ambitious in scope, have more gameplay complexity, etc. The common excuse is that it's supposed to be "old school". Although the thing is, by using such excuses, you pretend your game is finished when it's actually still work-in-progress. It's very much a symptom of late capitalism, although it's just as much a symptom of people lacking courage to actively brave it.

Look kids, I'm old school: I think the 1990s and early 2000s were the golden age of game design, kinda the 1970s New Hollywood-era of gaming, so to speak. And science is backing up that the 1970s were really the gold standard of American cinema. Maybe one day, it will be proven that the 1990s was the pinnacle of game design. If we really want gaming to be innovative once more, we will have to take up where people left there. The thing is, developers like Zynga (although not without the help of Fuckerberg) came fairly close to destroying the emerging art form of gameplaywrightship by forcing nearly all AAA games into the realm of micro-transactions, leaving only the game jammy "indie" as the alternative.

However, whoever understands "indie" in video games as independent is mistaken. On the contrary, from an artistic point of view, I find too many "indie" video games to be artistically apologetic. By that I mean to say, that I suspect the game dev wanted to tell a whole lot more than that person felt capable of, be it technically or economically yet usually, both. Secretly, you long to make a game that takes 40 hours at least to complete, yet you settled for a game that could be completed in five minutes. University brainwashed you (because you took a game dev degree) into thinking that you couldn't. Rather than "stealing" (as per the capitalist definition of the word) an unused laptop from the university's vaults, as Werner Herzog stole a film camera from film school, you instead ended up virtue signaling wokeness on Twitter, without having the courage to engage in direct action yourself. Or even worse, maybe you have capitulated to the intellectual lures of "Tradition" (the way Alt-Right would have it).

Although, perhaps you might think, asking me: "If you really believe that, why bother placing your game on itch.io?" Well, simple: The open-mindedness of its playerbase. Players on itch.io are definitely better able to grasp a developer's intentions than players on Steam, generally speaking. In a way, we expect games on itch.io to be constrained by capitalism (that is, allocated insufficient amount of resources to actually make the kind of game the dev wanted to make if this was not an issue). I suppose what sets Total Rendition apart from all the others is its unapologetic desire to not be constrained. It is still work-in-progress: We're not going to say it's finished just to satisfy the likes of the DWP or some "indie game journalist". I have done that with Fifth Column and the result is disappointing to say the least.

Total Rendition is very unapologetic about the fact that despite the resource constraints it is facing, it aspires to be bigger than it currently is. It's still imprisoned, yet yearning to be set free from the resource constraints that it faces. It's not pretending it's done yet. And perhaps, I'm disappointed that this attitude seems to be quite unique. Again, I don't care if it's unlikely to succeed. I think I would probably die trying if it came to that. To this day, I'm still trying to get legally even with the large student societies of the Netherlands, who basically want me dead and (at least in the Netherlands) are above the law (because nobody has ever successfully sued them yet). If I ever get deported from the UK to the Netherlands in the current circumstances, I will probably die a horrible death. Yet, even as an unfinished game, Total Rendition will be a political testament against the Far-Right as embodied in the Alt-Right, DC Thomson, MAGA, the Dutch student societies and the Proud Boys. 

However, Total Rendition, is intended to be so much more than just a message; it is intended to be a game that I would enjoy playing if I didn't have any role in making it myself. Indeed, finishing it would help a lot in getting the message across. As such, it would be shame if it couldn't be completed. I will do my utmost to ensure it will be completed, however. A bit unfortunate there are so many obstructionists, however.

-Mordechai Gabai

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