Game developers as brutalized industrial attention-farmers: a look back from tomorrow

Writing to us from the distant future, Ian "Cow Clicker" Bogost describes our modern games industry and the role it will play in the coming downfall of civilization: "Working long before sustenance powders, developers were easily seduced by appeals to their physical urges. Overseers plied them with sugars and salts during the day and forced them to engorge on extravagant meals at night. Shifts extended for days at a time."

Even when released from industrialized attention receptor manufacturing, some developers were so habituated that they continued the practice unpaid. These “independent” or “indie” developers, as they called themselves, rejected the indulgences of industrial work, opting instead to subsist on a diet of low-nutrient starch cups. Operating from one-room grottoes or in favelas called “co-working spaces,” indies recreated the products they had once fashioned for their corporate overseers.

But indies were unable to reach audiences directly. They were forced to rely on procurers who provided access to the public attention exchange. To consolidate access and to insure a continuous supply of new developers capable of servicing their insatiable clientele, digital bordellos arose, bundling wares in volume and selling them at deep discounts, while taking a substantial cut of the proceeds. Though clearly exploitative, indie development was at least largely contained to young, white men with an expertise in computer programming, thus sheltering productive society from their indecorum. Later in life, some were even reformed for menial roles during planetary exfiltration to Musk Base One.

While the exact usage of games from this era is unclear, computer archaeologists have observed that they primarily served as collectables for mentally ill obsessives. These “gamers” would pin the wares they acquired from procurers into electronic albums, where the games remained unplayed to preserve their purity.

What Are Game Developers? A View From the Future [Ian Bogost/The Atlantic]

(Thanks, Alice!)