This morning, I came across a Kotaku article about people working for a non-existant gaming studio. The title itself made the whole thing out to be a scam, but I’m not sure that’s really fair. Having said that, I neither recommend or condone what he did. He gambled with peoples’ lives and money, and he lost.
Had he succeeded, we would be telling a much different story about an indie studio that toughed it out, put in the effort, and made it happen. Instead, we got a story about a man who hung his hat on hopes, dreams, and wishes that never came to pass. He said it wasn’t malicious, and I’m inclined to agree, though his cagey behavior and statements regarding the alleged $25,000 and his contacts are questionable at best. If it was a scam, the only thing he took from employees was the infinitely valuable and unreplaceable time. There’s certainly some lawsuits and/or criminal charges buried in all this somewhere, though I don’t know if any of the people involved can afford representation.
It was certainly a “big risk for big reward” sort of problem and I can’t help but feel that he’s come out of it no worse for wear and the people he “employed” came away with a net negative. As always, though, the employees wanted to believe him. It always bothers me that when anyone is sufficiently driven they can overlook the obvious flaws because they want it to be true. It seems impossible for the driven to properly separate fantasy from reality, myself included.
In a way, the whole thing strikes as being very similar to Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. The man built an elaborate fantasy, a house of cards, by selling a dream. A dream so powerful he may even have convinced himself. While his statements were dishonest and misleading, I can’t help but feel he believed them too. I’ve made similar mistakes before. If you convince yourself, you can deliver information with such conviction that others will assume it has to be true, at least a little bit.
Of course, confidence is easy enough to fake. You don’t really have to convince yourself that something is true in order to appear confident and assured, but it sure does help.
I dunno where I’m going with this. I guess the whole story just made me keenly aware of what I already knew. For every high profile indie success like Stardew Valley, there are a multitude of failures that cost people immeasurable amounts of time and money, and it’s really hard to know one from the other except in hindsight.
I’ll see myself out. Y’all take care. May you all experience real and tangible progress on whatever you’re working on today.