There’s one topic I’ve found myself meditating on quite often as of late: exposure. Specifically I found myself asking what the value of exposure actually is, and whether or not the returns we expect are necessarily the ones we get. Of course, one can find countless discussions of the issues with exposure-centered approaches to artistic endeavors scattered across the internet, but there’s one particular project that I believe frames this dilemma perfectly for our purposes, meditations.games.
Created by Rami Ismail in late 2018, the meditations project sought to create a year long digital art installation of 365 micro-indie titles to be featured individually across the year, available for a single day each before ticking over to the next game in the roster. This project, however, has found itself at the center of some controversy regarding how crediting contributors to the project was handled which has been discussed at length by multiple game developers involved with the project. Two such notable examples can be found here and here. Rami himself attributed the controversy to a miscommunication with the contributors and has subsequently published a partial list of game contributors that wished to be credited prior to the project’s completion (albeit accessible only through a hyperlink on the Credits page, which itself lists only those involved with the project curation and organization), along with a planned release of a full list of game contributors at the end of the project’s first year.
Putting aside this controversy for the moment, let’s focus on social media engagement throughout the project’s life thus far (January 1st to June 20th at time of writing). A long-running project such as meditations is all but guaranteed to have some significant drop-off in engagement after the initial media blitz, but what, precisely, does the trend of engagement with such a project look like over time? For the purposes of this article we’ll be looking primarily at the unofficial project twitter account engagements in terms of likes and retweets.
Of particular note is that out of all the tweets from the unofficial account at time of writing (June 20th), 31 tweets did not list the twitter account of the developer despite having an apparent twitter presence upon further research, 1 tweet is uncredited, and 2 days do not have tweets associated with the games of the day.
At a glance, in January the unofficial twitter account’s tweets of the daily meditations received an average of ~29 likes and ~5 retweets per tweet. In contrast, May’s engagement rates averaged ~5 likes and ~1 retweet, a rate that has been relatively stable from April through to July.
While a drop-off of engagement on social media is to be expected for any project after the initial media buzz has died down, this appears to be an extremely high level of drop-off from the initial level of engagement on social media.
We reached out to the curator of the unofficial meditations.games twitter account (@pimmhogeling) for his perspective on community engagement with the project, and to see if it lined up with what our research indicated regarding engagement on social media.
First off, I’ve noticed that multiple people listed in the unofficial meditations account who have a twitter presence do not have their @’s listed along with their names, I was wondering if this was by request, if you were going off of the creditation in the meditations games themselves, or if this was unintentional?
Rami has a calendar which contains the submissions for every day. I take the name and Twitter handle from there. If a Twitter handle is missing, it could be by request. But more likely, it is unintentional. This project has proven to be a beast to manage.
I was also wondering if you’d be willing to provide any impressions you have regarding engagement with the tweets over time, any obvious trends, decreases/increases in engagement, or any other notable observations?
From what I can tell, the interest in the project is surprisingly consistent. Of course it dropped after the first few days when the press coverage was at its peak. That was to be expected.
Do you get that feeling from download data, social media engagement, or discussions with Rami/the meditations team?
From engagement on Twitter and discussion with Rami and Jupi, yes. I don’t have access to download data.
And finally I was wondering if you’d wish to comment on your impression of the project as a whole at this point in time?
I am personally delighted and proud that the project actually “lives”. Many massive multideveloper indie projects have died an early death after only being completed halfway. This project has its issues, but there is an active community of players. That is quite impressive.
Initially, we had planned to reach out to several developers involved with the project to see what they had to say about the level of social media engagement they’d received from their involvement with the project. However, as we were researching this piece it became apparent that between the tendency of articles to not center the voices of developers involved with the project, even during explorations of the controversy surrounding the crediting process for those very developers, and the lack of general media outreach to the developers of the meditations themselves, that a simple investigation into the value of exposure from the project and subsequent social media engagement would be continuing an established disservice to the voices of the developers.
Join us in Part 2 for our first round of interviews with developers for the meditations project for an exploration of their experiences and thoughts.
Mx. Medea is a writer, artist, and editor who spends most of their time drawing things with squares and buried under a small pile of endless paper copy. When not working they can be found playing everything from interesting indie fare to oldschool games. You can find them, their art, and their opinions @Mx_Medea on Twitter.