So apparently this happened today...
I don't blog much, in fact, I really rarely ever write anymore. I used to, and I should do it more as it was a passion of mine a while back. Heck, I once wrote an epic short story about this crew of Navy misfits who head into the dark depths of the ocean to... well, hang on, yeah, this is why I don't write much... begin digression...
Now, before I digress, I need to say something. I love the Artipia Games that are available today. Most every title is one I own, have backed, or, have played and enjoyed. Sure, their catalog, like most publishers, has a few "not so amazing" titles in it, but they have all, to date, been done with what I considered a rather elegant touch, in terms of artwork, design, and creative concepts.
I also understand that in posting this I very well may alienate some of my own followers and fans. Those that stick with this to the end of the post though will hopefully, more likely than not, understand where I am coming from. If I offend you in this post though, know, that is not my intention, and I do humbly apologize.
So... enter Lapdance, and ablaze goes the interwebz...
@ArtipiaGames whoa. i'm a fan of your games but the theme on this is a complete turn off to me. :(— Suzanne (@425suzanne) September 3, 2014
And then, the company fires back with this, well, actually quite logical counter argument...
The posts go on, and you're welcome, and I invite you, to read them all. Amazingly, it's not all internet trolling as one would think with such a topic, but that's one of the many things I love about our hobby/industry; we're intelligent and, well, quite frankly, pretty informed consumers.
And, speaking of said consumers (you... and me!), I thought heavily about this today, so... here are my thoughts...
(Oh, and no, I don't frequent establishments who provide these services, but I have, admittedly, been to one in my storied and epic past. As I have long said though, "That's a longer
story for a taller beer...")
First, as a colleague of mine pointed out to me earlier, anyone who owns Cards Against Humanity and has an issue with this, well, they are hypocritical to the Max and off their rocker. See, Cards Against Humanity is this game where you... well... you... ok...
Second, Mai Star, from AEG... yes, Mai Star...
Now, I'm sorry AEG, as I love you, TRULY I love you, but "A card game of beauty and guile"? I actually own and like playing Mai Star. In fact, with the right group it's a heck of a good time... but beauty and guile it is not. This game is about serving up a concubine to any customer who comes along. That's pretty much it. Yup.
If you're wondering...
Concubine:[kong-kyuh-bahyn, kon-] noun
1. a woman who cohabits with a man to whom she is not legally married, especially one regarded as socially or sexually subservient;mistress.
2. (among polygamous peoples) a secondary wife, usually of inferior rank.
3. (especially formerly in Muslim societies) a woman residing in a harem and kept, as by a sultan, for sexual purposes.
While this discussion isn't about Cards Against Humanity or Mai Star, they are excellent points leading into my major one... that this industry has a lot of mixed signals it sends on what's good,
what's bad, and what's "appropriate" when it comes to public consumption and participation in "fun" social settings.
I could even turn the microscope on myself and my own games, just to be fair, and believe me, I do! The art in Mage Wars is not for everyone, and admittedly so. Also, akin to Coup, Resistance, or Werewolf, not everyone thinks "bluffing" or "lying" is a good theme as with our newest game, the Sheriff of Nottingham.
When we developed Sheriff of Nottingham it was originally going to be a "Family friendly game" and when we developed it into the full on bluffing game it is, I realized very quickly, there's no way I'm trying to sell this to "Mom" when the goal is to "smuggle goods" and "lie to the law", basically speaking. No, instead we went with what we thought was best, just like AEG did with Mai Star (successfully I may add) and many other have. We listened to the market, understood the market, knew what it would accept and what would, potentially, return the most on our investment in said games, and turned them out with a style all our own.
See, it's not up to me, you, or any ONE individual to set what type of games come out and are for sale. In the end, the Free Market will either bear (pardon the pun) Lapdance and support it, or they won't. They demand and the businessmen of the industry listen. Sometimes they are loud shouts like "We want CAR WARS now!" and sometimes they are quite ones like "I wish there was a game about entertainers going from table to table, topless..." In either case, it's up to the publishers to decide where their dollars are best invested to hit said markets, and, well, strike while the iron is hot.
I for one believe heavily in the free market. I think it's awesome that we live in a day and age where anyone can think up anything, and if they need the means to make it, can ask others to believe in their cockamamie scheme, get them to pay them for it, and then deliver on it (or not, depending who you are).
As a businessman in this industry, I am constantly plagued by the fact that any decision I make will more than likely disappoint, or upset, at least one fan, somewhere; and that kills me inside. I strive to make everyone happy, even knowing I more than likely can not. I see this decision today and my heart goes out to Artipia as I know they are getting inundated with "not so kind mail". For me, I want to give everyone who is a fan of my games and my company the best experience every time they play or mention my work among friends... which is why as a businessman, this decision both totally baffles me, and inspires me, at the same time.
As I mentioned, Artipia has an impressive line up, and, until this announcement, had a style all their own. From Among the Stars and it's artistic alien world, to Drum Roll, making gamers want to
run away with the circus all over again, to Archon (a widely underrated game in my opinion) with it's unique style and execution. They were, and are, the "cool kids from Greece". Most everyone I
know who has met Konstantinos loves the guy, and for good reason. He's passionate and he loves his customers. I've always enjoyed working with him through Crits Happen, and, seeing them
support their community so well.
Today though, this decision takes them down an interesting path. They are fully admitting that they know this is going to polarize their fans. My inner "suit" is screaming "WHY!?" There's never a reason to alienate a great community, especially given how hard it is to build one!
This knowledge though, that they brazenly, Max Temkinized their brand (yes, I just made Max a verb, deal with it) means they are doing so with purpose and, with purpose comes plans. But what are the plans at Artipia games?
Perhaps they are just doing this to get attention. I doubt it, but maybe. I think their response about "one more game about violence..." is spot on. There ARE too many games about violence. And yes, they ARE aimed at children. Heck, I'll admit, my 9 year old has played Zombiecide with me. Now I'm a parent, and I try to be a good one; I explain the reality of fact vs fiction, that this is "Fantasy" and all that, but seriously, we're still "blowing away the dead... who were once people!" Does that mean that making a game about strippers, or entertainers (pick your poison), makes it all better? No where near at all, but, it is a good point, even if one to divert the discussion slightly.
Perhaps Artipia is actually going to go down a road less traveled, one where they make their own decisions, knowing full well that there is a free market, no matter how small in a niche, and it shall decide for itself. How "corporate" of them to do such a thing. You mean they may actually want to make a profit in this industry? That's radical thinking that the "suit" in me likes to see in a business.
Maybe they are doing it as an agent of chaos; all one big wild plan to do something so different, it'll be both noticed by everyone and horrify the masses, all the while, gaining them press? As a wise man once said, "Introduce a little anarchy, upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos." This is about as chaotic as one could get in this industry, and it will more than likely provide some major data points to study and ponder for future projects.
See, here's how it is... I live my life by a pretty simple idea...
"If it's not my cup of tea, no one's forcing me to drink it, but even so, no one's forcing me to spill it on anyone."
Think about that for a moment and then click this...
Sorry! I had to do something to lighten the mood for a second after that heavy line.
But seriously, even if I don't like, nor agree, with a game about strippers (male or female) serving their customers, well, it doesn't mean I have to buy it right? I don't even have to look
at it? I certainly don't think it's something worth taking up arms and going to war over (for that matter, not much is)... but, if I did (I don't), and if I was curious (and honestly, I
am), would it still be my banner to raise, my trumpet to blow?
No, in the end, this is all Artipia, and self served on a silver platter; most likely, in my opinion, part of the plan. Some will laud it, some will applaud it, and many will probably end up in the middle. Either way, you have to admire the confidence in which they are coming out with it, and, in an industry driven by the minority voice (more often than you'd think), sticking to their guns through the hail of bullets coming at them. Back it, don't back it, or baby got back it... it's here, it doesn't look to be going away, and like many others, it will be a roller coaster to hang on to and enjoy the ride.
PS - I am still a fan of Artipia Games, I still own and play Mai Star, and DO love AEG... and I think chaos is a good thing... in moderation.