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.