Corporations and Fandom

Okay, so since I just posted a Rant of the Moment that playfully slagged a bunch of companies, games, and even a particular auteur, plus gave another company a much more honest if incredibly belated shellacking, and asked Sony to swoop in and rescue a market, let me be clear that nothing I write here is anything but entertainment and maybe a little education. I don’t expect any of them to actually read anything I post here or take it to heart even if they somehow manage to stumble across it. I’m a business programmer who’s been writing games for decades now and hasn’t managed to release one yet; my cred in the industry is less than nothing. I also want to be clear that I’m not so entitled that I think I or anyone else deserves it. Businesses will do what they can to stay afloat and the fact of the matter is there are people way smarter than me who probably have already thought of everything I do first and have tossed those ideas in the round file* because it’s not worth it to the business. They don’t owe me anything, including the effort it takes to tell me I’m an idiot.

It’s easy sometimes to think a corporation like Nintendo or Disney is your friend because they raised you, but they’re not. Trust me, The Little Mermaid kept me endlessly entertained as a toddler with my mom at work and dad asleep for second shift unless I needed something and Pokémon was as much a part of my childhood as anyone else under the age of 40. The number of movies I’ve seen in theaters that weren’t from Disney is probably less than half of that particular pie chart. But I’m not inviting them to my next birthday party, as much as Disney would probably be quick with an offer to host it. When it comes to Sony and Square Enix in particular, the PlayStation brand has largely been my gateway to Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy itself hit me straight in the time of my life when its existential themes and particularly Red XIII’s couldn’t have resonated harder. As much as I love Sony’s products, from the SmartWatch 2 that’s managed to outlive more phones than I can even reliably count anymore to the Move to PSVR and Vita, I fully understand while their products have, in some cases, literally revolutionized my life, my existence amounts to less than a pixel in a dollar sign on a Jumbotron to the company that made them. As much as Final Fantasy has filled my life with countless hours of enjoyment, it’s unlikely the company behind it knows I exist in any meaningful way, other than the fact that I bought 10 Butterfingers to nab a limited allotment of DLC and bought a Red XIII figure and maybe, maybe because they stumbled over me on Final Fantasy Wiki perusing the staff page, provided anyone involved with the series would bother reading an English wiki. So, like, the chance isn’t entirely zero that my name might be on a few additional lists somewhere (what kind of lists is debatable) that’s not one of millions in the mailing list, but it’s not like anyone is going to give me a phone call unless it’s eventually about a month-old C&D sitting in unsorted mail (my family has always been bad about mail; it’s genetic).

Even at such point that Blue Star Creations somehow becomes a corporation instead of my personal efforts and maybe someday a private company like Valve (I can dream), it’s not going to be your friend. I mean, even right now, the number of birthday parties I’d be willing to hop on a plane for are effectively zero, but in terms of my relationship with anyone interested in my activities, for the time being, it’s personal, and will probably remain that way even if I eventually hire on a small team because I intend to keep it that way. All my grand plans are built to make Blue Star Creations a company with a heart inasmuch as the legal team I’ll eventually need will allow it. But if it ever stops being a company with a heart (over my dead body), I don’t expect you the reader or anyone you know to fall on your swords for it. That’s not what I stand for. You’re welcome to continue enjoying whatever it pumps out, but you don’t owe it your time, energy, or loyalty. And frankly, business being business, as long as we’re transacting business, you don’t really owe me anything beyond what’s agreed upon there, either, at least understanding that mutual courtesy is its own unspoken currency.

But anyway, as a solo dev, sure, I have a heart; just don’t think that’s true of a massive company where orders tend to float down from on high and decisions are made from the distance of a 50th floor corner office.

When I offer my ideas or feedback to Sony or Square Enix, it’s with the understanding that I don’t exist to them and will never see it happen, or will never see it happen because I asked for it. It’s not the point. If I actually was serious about them seeing it, I’d throw a tweet at them on Twitter or fill out a feedback form and would be chipper about it like I generally am elsewhere, not with the cutting persona that makes a rant a fun thing to write or read. Like, I’m happy to be chipper and give off good vibes, but a whole blog of it would quickly get saccharine and nobody wants that, not even me. I have to exercise my wit gland somehow, or else it’s liable to dry up and issue a powdery cough when I need it. Nothing I say here is going to matter until such time it’s liable to get me in trouble, and if it ever hits that point I’m going to have to drastically reconsider this blog in its entirety, because I understand full well that keeping my mouth shut would help keep my foot out of it. When it comes right down to it, I do say all that stuff as a fan, but I don’t consider it meaningful feedback or interaction. You’re allowed to be a fan. You’re allowed to like things. You’re not allowed to claim you own those things creatively, though, unless you’re in the meetings. Claiming ownership is the root of all fandom toxicity. I don’t claim ownership of Final Fantasy as much as I love the series. When I write about the series, I’ll often insert my own fan ideas, but I don’t demand them. Either I’ll like what’s available or I won’t. Unless I’m offered an invitation to express my opinion (which I actually was once for Final Fantasy XV as someone who pre-ordered Type-0 for the demo), chances are nothing I say will matter and I frankly take refuge in that, because writing for entertainment is a whole different ballgame than leaving constructive feedback. Honestly, if I thought I’d ever be rubbing elbows with the likes of David Cage at a future game event, I wouldn’t be saying things now that would make him want to drown me in the punch bowl. A seat at the table requires a level of professionalism that I’m not adhering to with this blog because I frankly don’t expect to ever have one, and if it ever gets that far, this blog and social media will probably mean I don’t get one unless I have the foresight to nuke it all first. At the end of the day, being a loudmouth on the Internet is an entirely different industry than serious game development or even serious journalism and I am very much a loudmouth on the Internet, at least until I release something, at which point I might upgrade to "that guy" somewhere at the periphery of indie circles if I’m super lucky. As the prayer goes, "help be to be mindful of the toes I step on today, as they may be connected to the butt I have to kiss tomorrow." But for the time being, if I can entertain a few people with this blog, that’s all I can really hope for. If Square Enix actually wanted my opinion, they’d ask for it, or else hire me for it, but I doubt they’re going to peruse my blog for it. Like, maybe they could have stumbled across my writings on Final Fantasy Wiki if someone clicked my profile link in the staff list out of idle curiosity, but I doubt I’m their favorite wellspring of unsolicited ideas and advice. I’d be tickled pink if someone occasionally looks to me for something to fill a lunch break, but it’s probably not an activity Nomura or Kitase engage in. Like, I’d be sent blushing if it was a random intern. Chances are, though, it’s nobody, because I simply don’t exist in the grand scheme of their market. (Though, frankly, "nobody" about covers my audience for this blog as a whole and I have every indication it’s been that way for years on FF Wiki, so maybe if you see and read this, leave a comment here or on the Fediverse?)

Anyway, there’s a certain extent that no, I don’t actually see a future for myself in serious game development circles and am willing to punch up with a little more enthusiasm than required, and there’s frankly no shortage of ideas in my head that I’m all too happy to blather on about, and both these things have an underlying force of being nothing more than an Internet rando who’s hoping someone out there might read it and enjoy it. At the same time, if I ever manage to make something big enough to start being problematic or just soulless, I fully expect to receive the same treatment.