Interview with Tadhg Kelly

You probably already know Tadhg Kelly, as he’s one of game design’s most prolific writers. He writes for TechCrunch, as well as his own blog at www.whatgamesare.com. In this interview I ask him about why there has been a falling off of game design writing over the past few years, including an interesting point about the role #GamerGate may have played.

We also talk about his new book that he’s been working on, as well as my concerns about VR/AR, both of which he writes about a lot. It was a great interview, and I hope you enjoy it!

Thanks for listening. Special shout-out to Aaron Oman for his support as a Patron. If you want to become a Patron and support podcast episodes like this one, as well as articles, videos and even games from me, please support my Patreon campaign over at www.patreon.com/keithburgun.

I also mentioned in the podcast that there is a Kickstarter running for Push the Lane. If you haven’t checked that already, please do!

  • Jake Forbes

    Thank you both for taking the time to record this. I got my start in the games industry as part of the bay area venture capital gold rush (first MMOs, then apps) so I appreciated Tadhg’s writing as a breath of reason in the scene. Excites to read his book when it’s done. Best wishes for a successful book debut.

  • Venom

    The whole gamergate thing I have a vastly different view on as someone how was on the other side of that at the time, and I think I already said that once somewhere in one of your comment sections but it bears repeating. Most of those people that where writing about game design in some form of community form at that point seemed to be activists first, designers second. Which was massive push back, and still is, against for multiple reasons.
    An obvious one and one Mr. Kelly, if I remember alluded to somewhat, was the emphasis on “diverse” voices as in putting race, sex, etc. above the merit of their argument and unless you towed the party line heavily you’d quickly be branded a racist, sexist, etc. for simply disagreeing.
    Which brings me to the second issue that most of those people had towards “out of party” people, which was the blatant disrespect and slander based on next to nothing, nobody likes themselves and the people they associated with be called a racist, sexist, etc. based on next to no data which was so common at that time (and still is). If you want to call people any form of bigoted you’d better have some damn good evidence rather than some assertions. It just become just bullying at some point.
    A third major issue was that anyone that dared to disagree and wasn’t called names for respectfully disagreeing was quickly banned or had their comments deleted, often without seemingly good reason.
    And the list goes on, and most of this still goes on with publications that pushed a lot of that type of filth. All while acting as if the emperor has no cloths.

    Case and point, just a month or so ago I’ve been banned (again for the same thing) by gamasutra for pointing out that banning people simply for disagreeing is a very poor way to try and win an argument after I noticed my old ban was lifted and saw that still happening (not that I care much about gamasutra due to it, I’d rather just be a descending voice). And been harassed by roughly 10 people over the course of a week for simply retweeting about 5 pro-GG tweets and tweeting at best 2 in support of GG myself. Not to mentions the multiple threats of violence and at least one physical attack against me for simply disagreeing with those type of political activist.
    Fuck, Neo-nazi’s and the KKK seem to have initiate far less violence than those types and if your political comrades, like with those writers, are such vicious monsters and you fan the flames even more you are bound to get burned or become the thing you hate. Or to quote Nietsche: “He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.”.
    All in all a lot of those people, including a lot of those activist design writers seemed to just LOVE Stalinist tactics. And as someone who has close friends and a girlfriend that either lived under such rule or had close family under such ruling I know to fight it with a happy heart and a smile on my face, with only using actual violence, threats, etc. in self defence as long as that’s a possible solution.

    That said you, like some others that still write, that where also anti GG but also kept away from that type of shit with a long stick and largely still do. I, and I the vast majority of pro-GG types I’ve interacted with, would have no issue having a political discussion with you or people like you that doesn’t go further, at worst, than some mild name calling like “your an idiot for thinking X” and some ugly comparisons from both sides and still happily drink a beer after together and play some rounds of pool or something as friendly as that.
    Which is one of the secondary reasons I’d like for you to stay away from the more politically motivated talks, which was a discussion we had before. As you also seemed to slide in some of the habits that the activists and the activist type writers slid into and that only leads to just sheer ugliness. (not to mention it dilutes the art somewhat considering how little amount of writers there are to begin with, considering you’d first need to accept the political views to accept the design parts which I think is very bad for a fledgling field, but I’m getting massively side tracked it seems)

    As for the whole STEM vs. art thing, I’ve actually had the exact opposite in my experience people from more art backgrounds being focused on “coolness” and a VERY “function follows form” method. While people from more classical STEM field tend to have a heavy “form follows function” approach. Although both tend to have a high “more is better” thing going naturally which I guess is due to, what I’d like to call, glutton culture within gaming in general. And both also have a heavy reliance on just “The player will learn it if their with it long enough” type thinking. Which you see the opposite in people that have a history in literature or people that are heavily into open debates where expressing one effectively is very important.