Being Media-ed

Alright, so in my continuing efforts to document the developer (hilarious to refer to myself that way, but it’ll do) side of making and releasing games I thought I’d see what I can say about rather shockingly big media reaction there has been to The Artist Is Present. This is an entirely novel experience from my perspective, so some of it will no doubt be rehashing what many others have said, but I feel like there’s not so much of this maybe from the games community (though as per usual I may just not have read it – not like I read everything).

I released the game on Wednesday I think, at any rate it was in my mind to release it such that MoMA would actually be open for it’s usual week (rather than hitting a Tuesday when it would be closed). As you probably know, “release” in my world means that I upload the .swf and .html files to my site, write a little blurb, and then tweet to my epically small number of people that the game now exists, I also let the Kill Screen posse know (because they’re super smart), and posted it to the TIGsource and Flixel forums. That was the release. But luckily for me, I do know some pretty amazing people and they got the word out more than I ever could, which I appreciate very deeply. It’s a pretty great thing to have supportive friends and colleagues.

The game went out and about and I was anticipating basically that a small number of people would play it, some people would find it interesting (because it is!), some people would hate it, and most people would turn it off in disgust or boredom pretty early on. But for whatever reason (a strange delayed zeitgeist or something), it took off in various place. IndieGames.com was nice enough to review the game (as they did with Safety Instructions), and that completely made my day. And then everything went kind of mad and confusing. In incorrect order, the game was picked up on kottke.org (with an awesome ambivalent little blurb!) and the Huffington Post. And that blew my mind. Those sorts of places are very much in that unknown “other” world of the internet, in some ways what I think of as the “proper” internet, but I guess more like the “professional” internet or whatever. The internet we all encounter from time to time, rather than the byways and back alleys of the normal folk.

And the attention has been ongoing and deeply flattering and deeply weird. ArtInfo.com did an email interview with me that went up today – I wasn’t too familiar with as a site, but my parents, who are art people, tell me it’s a pretty serious and major art website. Slate got in touch and I did a phone interview with them. And I just got off the (Skype) phone with The Village Voice in New York. And there are others.

The point is not to somehow promote myself here, waving my hands and yelling “look!”, but just to try and convey the flurry of madness that came about. I haven’t really had a way to understand or deal with it, so my strategy has to be to treat it as normally as possible, answer the questions, remember to plug the forthcoming book, and so on. But good grief is it a strange feeling to have people this interested (though temporarily) in something you’ve made. It’s a rush, and also just surreal and I won’t necessarily be completely unhappy when it all dies away.

I’ve also had the chance to experience doing interviews (written or spoken) and then feeling strange about what comes out the other end. That’s just a feature of the interviewing process, of course, but since no one usually interviews me I haven’t felt it first hand. Which is not to say I’m being terribly misrepresented or anything, just that there’s that necessary disjunct between what you try to say and what other people hear, even when you literally typed out the words – context is king! Goes a long way to reminding me that I’m not sitting here somehow literally communicating what I think, but rather different people read it differently. Obvious insights 101, I know.

Anyway, this blog post is way to long already so I’m just going to snap it off here. I’ll probably want to muse on all this some more later on, but for now I’ll continue to let it wash over me.

16 September 2011
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