I had originally begun to catalog updates to this story in my analysis of the situation last Friday. Since then, there have been so many updates that I decided to create a new place for them after the jump. As…
I’m sorry, Nick. This is all very disappointing. (Although the indie game community banding together is simultaneously uplifting.) I hope Baxter reverses his decision and the festival goes ahead. But, based on Baxter’s quotes in this MTV News article, it’s not looking good.
I’m sorry you had to make this decision, but it makes sense. What was so special about being at Slamdance last year was being at a festival where indie gaming is celebrated, and being able to hang out with an amazing collection of game makers. This year, the population of game makers is decimated, so there won’t be cool hanging-out going on, the festival clearly doesn’t support gaming as a new, deeply expressive art form, so the celebration of indie gaming will be hollow, and of course winning awards (which isn’t what the festival is all about, but is still a fun game to play) won’t mean much, given that at least half the competitors have dropped out. Given the time and expense of going, there isn’t really much reason left to go.
I’m amazed how much Baxter doesn’t seem to get it.
Baxter rejected the implication of a double-standard — that he wouldn’t have made the same call regarding a movie that involved a school shooting, like “Elephant.” “We’ve had a lot more challenging fare shown at Slamdance than ‘Elephant,’ ” he said. “I don’t think you can compare ‘Elephant’ and this game. They’re different.” How so? He didn’t elaborate…
So, more challenging films have been shown at Slamdance, but games are “different.” I guess we can conclude that games are a more powerful medium than film, and so given the same content, a game can get under your skin, be more disturbing, than film. And Baxter can’t handle this (since he didn’t elaborate on what’s “different”, we get to make up any theory we want). Sounds like game makers should form their own festivals, unaffiliated with film, since the film geeks can’t handle the expressive power of a medium that allows the player to take action.
Baxter confirmed that the Columbine game will not be reinstated, and he said work is afoot to avoid this situation in next year’s version of the festival.
Hmm, “work is afoot” – I guess censorship will be built directly into the judging process, so that embarrasing media faux pas don’t happen again. Too bad – I was looking forward to both judging and submitting to Slamdance in the future. I guess Ian was right that Slamdance really is dead.
I’m sure it was a hard decision to make, but I think you did the right thing. If you need someone to vent your anger with, Greg Costikyan spelled your name wrong in his blog. Go beat him! (Now seriously, we’re all proud of you.)