My experience with Meditations Games


Up until recently The End Is Nigh was an untitled game meant to be part of the Meditations Games project. A videogame performance that releases a game everyday for you to play only for the duration of said day. To be part of the Meditations project games had to be made under six hours, have a set duration, contain no text. and be accompanied by a text with reflections from the author. It should also run on windows and osx, and close on its own once the game was over.  All our work was meant to be secret.

I got contacted for this on November 22 of 2018, got told the deadline was on December 14th. I also got told to pick up a date that was meaningful to me, mark said date on a spreadsheet, and deliver my game to a certain email address once this was done.

I got my game done, and wasn't too happy about how it turned out, but since there's only so much you can do in six hours time, I sent it out and received an away for holidays email. Later on I sent a correction that closed the game once it was over and received that very same away for holidays email. This made me a bit anxious, but I thought I would be contacted if there were any issues, so I tried to forget about this.

At the beginning of 2019 Meditations got released, and I noticed that my name, nor the name of all the other devs was on the credits section, so I checked the spreadsheet to see if everything was alright and noticed someone else's name on the date I picked for my game to be released. I proceeded to:

  1. Panic.
  2. Check my friends and the people I referred for this project were still on the spreadsheet. They were.
  3. Assume my game didn't make the cut because it was bad, but contact the organizers just the same.
  4. Decide that if my game was out, I would just tweak what I didn't like and release it on my own.

It turned out that my game was still very much part of the project, the organizers were kind, and the issue got resolved. So, after overcoming impostor syndrome related anxiety, I noticed that the lack of credits for the developers was pretty bad. This notion built up over time. First I thought "oh, if only there were credits I wouldn't have thought my game didn't make it". Then I thought it was odd that developers weren't credited alongside curators, and that puzzlement led to outrage and more anxiety because "why did I say yes to a project that pays in exposure and does so badly?". Also, while all of this was going on, my apartment sink broke and the landlord refused to fix it. I decided the right course of action was to have cake and release a take on twitter.

After several more people released  takes of their own where we all agreed that: sure, coordinating and curating a project of this size is super complex and complicated, and we believe no one is doing this out of a bad intent, but not crediting people is wrong. The good thing about this is that after several people voiced their concerns, we were listened to and communication for the project improved.

A poll to decide which was the best way for crediting people was sent, and after that... more polls were sent. The second of this row of polls offered the option to opt out of the project. I took that option. Mostly because by this point this project became way too stressful. I make games because it makes me happy, because I get to share them with friends, and as means of self expression. I don't expect to make money out of this, even if sometimes I do, but I do expect to be able to share what I do openly.

After I retracted my game, I got an apology, and I think it was sincere, so that's good. I'm unsure of how many people pulled their games out of the project, I might be the only one as far as I know, but I'm still at ease with my choice.

I sincerely hope no one else had a bad a time as me with this project, that those who remain get credited in a way that they feel is fair, and that everyone enjoys playing those 365 games.

The game I released is better than the one I made for Meditations, the characters talk by the power of tracery and the art is prettier.

The lesson creators should take from this is that it's okay to ask a bazillion questions about any work you will do with another human being, even if the answer to those questions should seem obvious. The lesson curators should take from this is that people deserve credit for their work and that poor communication kills.

Seriously,

Poor communication kills.

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Just wanted to drop a note that this matches my experience and that of everyone I know almost exactly (except that we didn't resubmit or withdraw, although tbh I'm still considering it). It was very stressful and I found it comforting to know others felt the same way I did, so I wanted to let you know that you're far from alone. The game is sweet and I appreciate it, too! Here's to a great 2019, and to saying goodbye forever to that very stressful period around the meditations launch. 

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It's good not to be alone in this, but at the same time I wished this hadn't stressed out so many people.

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This is very much the same as my experience with the project - I was first approached only a few weeks before the deadline, had no contact from anyone organising the project after I submitted my game and had no idea what was going on, if my game was actually going to be included.

I don't think anyone organising the project went into it with malice, and certainly running a collaboration with this many people is a huge task, but the lack of communication did sour me on it.  At first I was very flattered to have been approached, but ultimately it felt like I was just included to make up numbers rather than because any of the curators had any interest in my work.

I did choose to keep my game in Meditations, but I don't disagree with anyone who didn't want to be part of it anymore.

Yeah, I ended up feeling that way too. It sucks =(

I'm pretty sure your game is good enough to be part of any project.

I don't have a game in this project, but I'm just so dissapointed how this has developed. For me, something like Meditations should first and foremost be a celebration of the people who contributed their time and energy to create the games that are in it.

Looking at it from the outside, I can't shake the feeling that for the organisers it seemed more important to have a nice  and sleek product to present to consumers, while the feelings of the contributors themselves weren't regarded at all.

I'm really sorry, for anyone who contributed and who in the end felt like their work didn't matter, because it does matter.