EGX 2019: the trouble with creators

So many people want to be creators. Whether that involves publishing videos on YouTube, hosting streams on Twitch or making the next ‘indie darling’ video game, they want to pursue such a career path and even see it leading to them becoming an online celebrity.

It can be done. If you’re in the right place at the right time, own an idea or personality that captures the imagination of viewers and players, and have a sprinkling of luck on your side, you can make it big. We’ve heard stories this year of streamers restyling themselves and being paid undisclosed amounts (and therefore obviously huge) to jump from one platform to another; and game developers hitting the limelight with their first game when their only previous experience was creating hacks back in high-school.

It’s a difficult career to get into though. Online platforms nowadays are so oversaturated with creators of all types who want to be noticed, that it’s hard to be exactly that. You can spend every day making new content, putting your heart and soul into every piece of work, and still not attract a following after years of graft. It’s easy to understand how people in this line of work feel it’s important to take every single opportunity to promote yourself and make your voice heard, although that sentiment isn’t something I necessarily agree with.

While at EGX last week, my other-half and I were waiting at a stand to try a demo that had caught his attention in the Rezzed zone. Someone approached and began to talk to the developer – a normal occurrence at this expo, as one of the great things about it is having the chance to speak to them about their work in person. However, this guy wasn’t interested in hearing about the project or playing the demo for himself; all he wanted to do was hand over his business card and talk about his own game before walking off.

It came across as rude. It made me feel as though little respect was given to this developer who’d put effort into getting his game ready for the show, paid the money for a stand, made the journey to the ExCeL centre in London and then was prepared to be on his feet for four days straight. While the guy could be given a few points for having the confidence to approach and talk about himself, the way in which it was done left a sour taste in my mouth – and a confused look on the developer’s face.

I’m sorry to say this wasn’t the only example of such behaviour we saw last week. There was the YouTuber and his group who made a loud entrance at the Leftfield Collection because he wanted everyone to know he was filming a new video. There was the influencer who was scheduled to talk about gaming culture and what we can do to make it a more welcoming community, who seemed more interested in promoting her business and hinting she should be paid for her time. And there were others too, more than enough to dedicate a post to.

EGX should be a place where everyone with a love of gaming can come together to not only find out about upcoming releases, but also to celebrate the creativity of developers. In previous years, one of the highlights of the event was the atmosphere and the buzz of knowing you were sounded by thousands of other with the same interests as you. Sure, there was always a certain level of see-and-be-seen behaviour but it was less direct and came from a minority: most attendees simply wanted to play the demos on display and talk to the people behind them.

I’m not sure when it became acceptable to disregard the product in front of you, the product of someone else’s hard work, in favour of your own project. Or ignore the shared interests of the fellow attendees around you because you see your personal brand as more exciting; or push your merchandise to a crowd who actually thought you were going to share your expertise on a subject. The atmosphere at EGX is changing from being one of shared interests to self-promotion, and there’s a danger of it losing what made it special.

Perhaps such behaviour is caused by creators setting themselves the wrong goals or losing sight of what’s important. Create because you love making something and want to share your content with the world; not because it’s a career that will bring you attention along with the potential of money and fame. Once you lose your interest in the work of others and the curiosity which drives you to find out where there ideas came from and what makes them tick, your own work will lose its heart.

What does this mean for next year’s Rezzed? It will certainly be interesting to see whether the same behaviour spills over into this sister-expo and if its atmosphere changes as a result. The best piece of advice I can offer any creator due to event is this: stay curious, be respectful of others’ work and interests, and don’t be a dick.

20 thoughts on “EGX 2019: the trouble with creators

  1. This sort of thing applies pretty broadly to the Internet in general, not just expos like EGX, unfortunately. It can probably be most readily seen on YouTube, where deliberately negative videos that spend their time tearing down the work of other creators often tend to be the most popular ones, while enthusiastic, passionate coverage — the sort of thing I strive to make, and which I’d much rather watch — tends to fall by the wayside. The “influencer” (ugh) is more important than the thing they’re actually covering.

    This is where “hateshare” has come from. A creator knows they can get a bunch of clicks by being deliberately provocative about something. For example, a creator named Dunkey recently riled up a lot of people by posting a negative video about the recently released Dragon Quest XI; everyone *knows* that Dunkey dislikes RPGs and his videos on them are typically ill-informed, stupid and deliberately provicative, but still they went and clicked to leave an angry comment; still they shared it on social media going “LOOK HOW STUPID THIS IS”; still they helped it reach a much wider audience than it otherwise would have done had it just been starved of the oxygen of attention.

    I make a point of respecting the people who make the games I cover. This is why I cover things from the perspective of “what was this game trying to achieve, and was it successful in that?” rather than “is this game good?” I also keep in mind the philosophy that if something exists, someone somewhere is either proud that they created it, or finds it personally important to them for one reason or another. Keeping that at the forefront of my mind means that it never feels appropriate to crap on something that isn’t to my taste… and can sometimes lead to some fascinating discoveries about both myself and other creators, too.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Obviously, I’m no expert at this topic, but I think the problem stems to a great part from the motivations behind the content. The first few generations of content creators (no matter if YouTube, Twitch, developing games, etc) started out for fun. No one knew what they were doing, and there wasn’t a lot of money to be had (of course, in the case of developing games, this cycle started much earlier). Some of them launched to massive success, and as not only their popularity, but the popularity of the internet in general, exploded, all that money, fame, and influence came. When people saw this, naturally, they wanted a piece of the cake, and so the focus shifted from “Oh, it’s just a stupid hobby of mine” (basically what we here on WP do^^) over “Hmmm, maybe there IS a way to make a bit of money off of it” to full-blown “I only do this because I want to get rich and famous”

      I wholly agree with your philosophy of respect. Video games (or any piece of content) does not magically appear, and there were people working hard (at least they were working, okay?) on it, so even if the product sucks, we can at least acknowledge the effort that went into it. In the end, my personal way of reviewing is probably a bit harsher than yours, simply because I think that when someone mucked up, they deserve an honest critique, as long as it is still productive (“that part of the game was just bad, BECAUSE xxxxx. I think yyyyyyy could have worked a lot better”).
      You are completely right, though, that we can’t just give a game shit, just because we did not like it. Of course, we can point it out, since if we don’t like it, other people probably dislike it too. But in the end, most of what we say is rather subjective, and it should always come across as such. Except carry-weight-limits, of course, they are just the worst and everyone who puts them into their games should objectively have their knee-caps broken πŸ™‚

      However, I do think that your example of videogamedunkey was not the best. Yes, his videos about RPGs are overly negative and do not reflect the experience an RPG-fan would have, but as you said: everyone KNOWS that Dunkey doesn’t like RPGs, and it is in the responsibility of the viewer to use this knowledge to form his opinion. I might be wrong, but I don’t think that Dunkey makes these videos to be very provocative, or even just objective reviews. In the end, his channel is about entertainment, and if he thinks it’s entertaining to provoke angry RPG- or Assassin’s Creed-fans, then that’s what he’ll do. I’m probably biased, though, because I generally like his content, and don’t use his channel to form my opinion about games.

      Liked by 5 people

  2. Gosh… I wish I made undisclosed amount. 😁

    Seriously, it’s sad to see self-promotion and the pursuit of money takeover most of our society. Getting rich (or even making a liveable wage) these days is actually quite hard. The content creator route seems almost like winning the lottery in terms of odds of success. I guess it’s important to keep following your path and hope for the best, but take some time to be appreciative if what you do have (and not be a jerk about forcing content to grow). That’s my plan! 😎🦌

    Liked by 2 people

    • Perhaps it’s because I’m getting old, but the amount of people nowadays who see a career in content creation as lucrative worries me. It’s not the get-rich-quick scheme they’re looking for: creating content and getting people to notice it is hard, and that’s something we here all know well here even though we only do it on a non-professional basis! What happened to staying in school, kids?

      Yeah, ok. I’m definitely getting old. 🦌

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m old too… Kids today need to get off my lawn! *shakes controller and keyboard* I can’t wait until I’m retired 🍷

        This upcoming generation seriously scares me. I was at a meeting at a coffee shop last night and noticed some teenagers being idiots. The amount of entitlement and lack of empathy in today’s youth… just wow. Life is NOT an easy ride, you need to work hard to get anywhere (unless you get stupidly lucky), and you can’t disrespect other people without consequences. They are in for a rude awakening once they’re done with the cakewalk school system. *rambles on for paragraphs*


  3. I couldn’t handle going to that sort of thing. Back on my original site I had invited from studios to attend but I was the stay at home parent writing about my hobby as a means to have something to do. The other day I was asked to post my blogs URL to my book clubs Facebook group and felt really weird about doing something as small as that!


    • Oh yeah, I always feel awkward when my blogging creeps into the real world. The only family members who know about it are my husband and stepson, and there are a couple of people at work who are aware but just see it as ‘she’s got a personal website’. If you don’t feel the need to constantly promote yourself, I think it’s a sign you’re already getting what it is you want out of your content creation – and that’s a great thing. πŸ™‚


  4. I think it’s an issue larger than gaming… At a societal level, we’re seeing a real departure from a focus on the “community” to a focus on the self. I don’t want to go so far as to say “I got mine” is at the forefront (although I think that’s the case occasionally), but I do believe there is a sense of “I am seen, therefore I am” that permeates a lot of the “creator/influencer” culture, not to mention social media culture. And that’s a shame, because people are rewarded for promoting themselves and being self-focused, instead of being rewarded for being a helpful member of a community, as IRL communities usually work. To my eye, it’s very disheartening because I’m not sure how we can get away from this systemic selfishness.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for this comment, Athena. It kind of explains what’s been going on in my head recently. Last month I wrote that the state of the world was slowly gnawing away at my mental wellbeing and, although I couldn’t really explain it further than that at the time, it feels as though what you’ve said here sums it up. It’s like this ‘transition’ in society that we can all see but don’t know how to react to. It makes my heart heavy. 😦 ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is really well pointed out. At EGX this year I saw several streamers walking around the showfloor with a camera attatched to their body in a type of harness. As they walked past me it was clear to me that they were actually streaming themselves exploring the expo and my initial thought was “Oh that’s pretty cool! There must be thousands of people unable to attend who would love to see what EGX is like.”

    That opinion changed when one bearded guy cut in front of an entire line to speak to an attendant. I can’t remember the game… it was one of the boxed ones. Doom I think? And because the attendant was aware ‘ the world was watching’ he agreed to let him in even though there was a massive queue. Now I wasn’t even in that queue but it felt pretty awful to me. “People are watching me online, so I’m more deserving than all these people in the queue” is basically what it looked like. I dunno. Just didn’t seem right to me.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Wow… I’m genuinely shocked. I can only imagine how those people queuing up had been caused to feel by such behaviour, and am struggling to believe that someone would think it’s acceptable!

      What does this mean for Rezzed then? Is everybody going to turn up with cameras in body harnesses just so they can get to the front quicker?

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I don’t think this is anything partiularly new or specific to this or any other generation. I went to a lot of Comic Conventions in the 1980s and they were always full of people lugging portfolios around, trying to corner anyone they thought might have an “in” to the industry so they could earbash them. It worked, too. I knew plenty of people who got contacts and work that way, some of whom went on to have careers in comics. Whether it’s worse now or worse at gaming cons I couldn’t say because I stopped attending such things a quarter of a century ago, but everything you describe sounds extremely familiar from the fifteen or so years before that.


    • Hmm… perhaps it’s a case of me noticing it more at this expo then, rather than it actually being more prevalent? I’m at another one this weekend so it will be interesting to see if there are any similarities. πŸ€”


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