As gaming continues to grow beyond our expectations, we sat down with ArenaNet’s Jennifer Scheurle during the recent Reboot conference in Calgary to talk about the developer’s perspective on making games in today’s climate. From what devs wish the public knew about the process to the importance of community transparency, Scheurle provided Prima Games with a unique perspective on a side of gaming that not many outside of development get to see.
Speaking with Prima Games, Scheurle opened up a little bit about what she wished the general public knew about the process.
“I think there’s a good chunk of other game developers who would prefer for us to not be as open about how we develop games and how game design works, but I think that’s wrong,” she mentioned when we asked her what she wants fans to understand and how communication with the community works “. I think we need to embrace the fact that we should be creators telling our audiences what we do. And it will only deepen the love that people develop for games, I believe. I know that, at first glance when the hidden games and thread came out, it was controversial. It was a little bit of a shock to a lot of people.”
She added, “At the time, a lot of players felt betrayed, and it was this kind of jolting out of a fantasy world that they believed our games were simulations. But they’re not, we make games as entertainment, so it’s a little bit more free-form. We don’t code perfect ballistic curves for grenades. It’s too hard. It’s too imperfect for what we’re trying to achieve. So I think there’s no cap for how much players should know how we work. Because the more communication there is between creators and players, the more understanding we have of what we’re trying to share. And since games are communication and the conversation between creators and our audiences, the better we understand each other, the better we will understand each other through our games.”
But providing that insight isn’t always easy, something that she was very upfront about when talking about the challenges that come with that open communication. “I think about this a lot and I mean every day of my life. This is an extremely prevalent topic in my life because it is important to me and I have a love-hate relationship with it. I find it equally satisfying as I find it daunting, to be open on social media. I feel like it’s just taught me so much about communities and about myself. I believe it has made me a kinder and more understanding person to be open and honest on social media. I deeply believe in the fact that players need to see us for who we are and need to see how we develop and how we work. But I also think people need to see that we are people and that we are humans and that we struggle. And with all the things that have come out in the last year or two about the industry’s issues, I think that has really contributed to that.
“I also believe that there’s immense value in being human on social media and growing publicly and making mistakes publicly. It’s very hard to do and very daunting and often very painful. And I often feel like there’s no right or wrong anymore, just degrees of wrong whenever I post online. But I’ve come to love growing publicly in front of other people because I think it’s a very reciprocal way of growing as a person and other people being inspired by it. And I think it works largely.”
Communication between developers and fans is easier than ever, but sometimes that easy access can be a double-edged sword. With essentially no filter in place, oftentimes feedback bleeds from constructive to volatile, which has been an outcome that has caused some studios to shy away from being as transparent as possible in some of the instances Scheurle talked about. As we’ve seen in recent years, most recently being the Bungie Destiny 2 evolution, the path of game creation, game delivery, and game maintenance is rarely easy and there’s a lot of factors that go into this process that many players aren’t even aware of.
That aspect of betrayal can stem from a lack of knowledge, especially so in a social media climate that breeds a lot of misinformation and – at times – knee-jerk and overtly passionate responses that sometimes aren’t coming from a constructive place.
We have even more from our time with ArenaNet’s Jennifer Scheurle coming soon, so keep it tuned in here at Prima Games for even more on the way!