Tuesday, July 5, 2016

My thoughts on running a Ludum Dare without the rating period

Over the past month or so, there has been a kerfuffle within the Ludum Dare community.  It seems like Mike Kasprzak has been unable to rectify the need to build a more current website for the community and the responsibility of hosting the next Ludum Dare challenge.  This has caused quite a few feathers to get ruffled in the comments section relating to any post relating to LD36.  Some people have been asking about keeping the voting in some capacity, while others have been threatening to not participate in protest.  Sometimes an internet community explodes about something that they have ignored when they could have had some real input.  I'm rather baffled by this phenomenon.

Don't get me wrong, I personally loved getting the ratings back from my work on any given game I submitted for the challenge.  Feedback in a convenient number form is highly informative (and intoxicating).  This should not, however, be the make or break condition for whether or not you enter the challenge.  If you are the type of developer that absolutely has to have the feedback of the community, you are chasing the popularity contest to the detriment of your game designs.  I've been guilty of this fallacy on occasion.  Those games that I have made in this mold are games that I am not proud of.  I'm not sure that those games I've played "inspired" by community ratings are any better than those truly original games submitted.

Most comments I've read protesting this (hopefully temporary) change boil down to this:  "I'm not happy because Mike's decision effects my plans!"  This does not contribute to the conversation at all.  More productive comments have been consistently bashed until those commenters simply stop contributing to the conversation about the future of Ludum Dare.  Not only is this non-productive, it's actively harmful to the community as a whole.  I've seen it happen before.  The hackerspace I founded was initially an open community where people would step up and volunteer for what needed to happen for the good of the space.  Now that same community is having extreme difficulty finding anyone to volunteer for anything, be it for classes or simply keeping the space clean.  Volunteerism died because the vocal minority was tearing down the community constantly.  Unfortunately, elements of that minority were in control of the 'space.  I'm seeing the same thing happen within the Ludum Dare community now.  If we let these elements control the conversation, we'll have lost the little nugget of gold that so many of us enjoy now.

Moreover, many of these "protesters" have been the late arrivals to the discussion and are now getting pissed about not being listened to a month after the decision was made.  That's like going to dinner late and not being happy about the menu.  You came in late.  You missed the planning and cooking stage, so you've lost the ability to change the cake now.  If this event is so important to you, you should have been more involved in helping out with it.  I haven't been involved in the community's maintenance, but I know that there is a way to join in helping out.  At least occasionally checking in with the community between numbered Dares would have clued you into the issues hosting the challenges.  If you don't like the direction now, get more involved in the future.

I'm assuming that most of this anger comes from a place of passion:  Passion for the Dares goes deep.  I got the bug my first Dare.  I know those that participate in a single challenge almost always have a good experience and want to participate further.  If you have passion for this Dare being great, stop sitting on the sidelines and join in making this game challenge community great!

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