RE:BIND

We’ve been very interested in the experiences of the developers involved with the meditations.games project, how they felt about the crediting process and controversy surrounding it, and the level of social media reception that they experienced, so we reached out to multiple developers involved with the project for their input. Below you’ll find the first batch of interviews we conducted with the developers who asked to be credited upfront for the project, and what they had to say.

These interviews are as unedited as possible to present the developers’ answers in their own words. You can find the second batch of interviews with those included in the partial credits list here and the interviews with those not included in the partial credits list here and here.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in these interviews are those of the developers interviewed. They do not reflect the opinions or views of the staff or contributors of this site, nor should they be taken as such.

Omar Shehata

First, I know there was some controversy surrounding the credit process for contributors to the project, could you tell me your impression of how this happened?

I was a bit confused about where exactly my name/link to website would appear, I assumed there’d be a list of all those involved from day 1, and the launcher would show each game’s credit on the day of before the game launches as well.

I was surprised to learn when the project launched that it would only show my credit when game was shown, especially since it did seem like those who picked dates in January would get a lot more visibility. But once Rami explained the idea of why it was that way, and that it would be all shown at the end, it made sense to me, I just wish that was communicated beforehand.

I also noticed that you asked to be credited before the end of the project, how did you come to that decision, and what do you think about how that process was handled?

I think I just wanted to have my name up there while the project was getting some visibility, and I think it made sense to have everyone’s names shown on a credits page anyway. I think it was nice that they changed how the credit process works based on the feedback they got from the poll, but again I feel like this is something that should have been handled or at least communicated before the project went up.

Would you say you’re happy with how the situation was handled, and what about the process were you satisfied/dissatisfied with, if anything?

I think it was handled fine. It just would have been nice to have communicated the credit process beforehand (see above).

Do you have any comments on how you think it could have been handled better, or how you think it was handled well?

See above.

Additionally, after being credited, and after your meditation launching (if it has launched as of yet) have you noticed any increase in social media engagement or interest in your other projects that you would attribute to being involved in the project?

My meditiation hasn’t launched yet. I don’t think I saw any significant interest after my name was up there.

And finally, do you have any general comments you’d like to make about your experience with the project as a whole, good or bad?

I think it was good overall, it was fun come up with something meaningful for the date I picked, and fun to collaborate, and also to hear from the other developer I knew who was working on it, what his game and his memory he was sharing was. I do kind of wish I got to talk to more of the people who were making games for it, since that sense of community is largely why I participate in game jams.

Anonymous Contributor

Most people seem more worried about the impact speaking out might have on their career and the public perception of their work. Rami has enough of a following that large groups of people rush to attack anyone who criticizes him. He’s also seemingly-at-least connected to multiple large indie funding sources and marketing venues, such that getting on his bad side might directly impact your ability to make money and get your work seen.

First, there was definitely some controversy surrounding the credit process for contributors to the project, could you tell me your impression of how this happened?

Rami had the idea for the project at some point I think in late 2017, recruited a few people directly, and then dropped the ball and let it sit for a long time. With the deadline approaching, he offloaded the work of organizing onto a handful of curators, who sort of crowdsourced the project. I was reached out to by Jupiter Hadley in … November (who was apparently brought on just that month), given a spreadsheet where I could enter my details and claim a day, and told to grab anyone I knew as the delivery due date was December 14th and the spreadsheet was still more than half empty. It was pitched as an amorphous community effort to make something cool together. One of the only messages game-contributors got was to NOT talk about it or your involvement in it, until it was ready to be properly announced, with the idea that we could make a bigger splash by doing it as a big rollout. 

Rami launched the website with himself prominently credited on the front page. If you clicked a link that said something like ‘this is only possible thanks to these fine folks’ it brought you to a list of a handful of curators, but no game contributors other than I think Rami and his wife, presumably because they were both also curators. Rami also announced the project with a tweet thread mythologizing his brilliant idea for the project, telling the story of how it came to him, messiah-like. Barf.

All the major press pieces I saw credited the whole project to Rami.

I don’t know a single game developer who worked on the project (out of the half-dozen I know personally, or the half-dozen I spoke to after) who ever got any communication from Rami, so this felt like a huge lie. The people who actually made the work have no connection to whatever story Rami tells himself about his divine intentions in personally producing it. The only contact I received from Rami was an “out of office” auto-reply (which made it very clear he was too important to ever respond) when I sent my submission into the assigned inbox on the due date.

There was a tremendous outcry from developers on the project after the launch, but nobody was really in contact with each other so we didn’t have a sense of how unanimous the feeling was, or what other peoples’ concerns were. Everyone I spoke to felt betrayed and helpless. Rami believed it would’ve been ‘presumptuous’ of him to credit people, and that it made more sense to assume people wouldn’t want credit. He was very insistent that there was some secret reason why some developers wouldn’t want to be credited. He implied that it was due to some special vulnerability they had, and made it seem like developers demanding credit were entitled or asking for special treatment, to be credited over someone who was in some secret but terrible way marginalized out of the possibility of credit.

Ultimately Rami decided to put it to a vote by distributing polls among the teams. The polls included long paragraphs of Rami defending himself and explaining what I just described above: that for some secret reason, other devs were unable to be credited, and so if you asked to be credited you were being selfish in your privilege. Unsurprisingly, the polls slanted towards him being right and everything being fine. Unsurprisingly, everyone who was upset was still upset, if significantly more worn down and afraid to speak up about it. 

I think the third poll included an option for you to specifically ask for yourself to be credited. Some of us stuck to it and demanded that, and those are who ended up credited on the site (still hidden several clicks in, and behind the credits of the ‘organizers,’ some of whom like @moshboy have since stated that they had almost no involvement in the project).

I also noticed that you asked to be credited before the end of the project, how did you come to that decision, and what do you think about how that process was handled?

It was a fucking mess. He should have just credited everyone immediately. If he had some foreknowledge that certain creators needed to not be credited, he could’ve excluded those creators specifically, very easily. 

Crediting everyone at launch would’ve brought more visibility to the work, benefited the creators, and been more honest to the spirit of the project (the real project: all the games people made, not whatever foggy idea Rami had in 2017).

The polls were so skewed and weird and pathetic and defensive, and not at all a genuine attempt to resolve peoples’ hurt. 

I don’t even know how to answer ‘how did you come to that decision.’ Expecting credit for my work is my baseline. 

Would you say you’re happy with how the situation was handled, and what about the process were you satisfied/dissatisfied with in particular?

Incredibly unhappy. Still considering demanding my game be withdrawn, but it’s unclear at this point what I get out of fixating on the situation other than more anguish and possibly professional backlash.

The whole point of keeping quiet to do a press rollout is the knowledge that the first time you talk about something will make the biggest impact. It matters almost not at all what happened after that first announcement. Rami knowingly went to great lengths to conceal the work of the hundreds of people who made this thing, instead attributing it to himself. 

I will absolutely refuse to work with him in any way in the future. I considered a lot of ways of trying to resolve things myself (for instance I began compiling a list of contributors and reaching out directly to them, intending to organize a major withdrawal and an alternative bundle of withdrawn games), but this was happening right around the time I was preparing another major announcement, and I worried that if I made a fuss it would overshadow that.

Do you have any comments on how you think it could have been handled better?

Fucking credit people. 

Additionally, after being credited, and after your meditation launching (if it has launched as of yet) have you noticed any increase in social media engagement or interest in your other projects that you would attribute to being involved in the project?

Our day hasn’t passed yet, but I would be really surprised if it brings me any visibility at all. I get the sense the project basically dropped off after the first couple weeks. I myself uninstalled the launcher because seeing the logo makes me queasy and angry. 

Federico Fasce

First, I know there was some controversy surrounding the credit process for contributors to the project, could you tell me your impression of how this happened?

First of all, I’ve been quite easy about the whole thing. For me crediting hasn’t really been a problem or something I was concerned about. But I understand how people needed to open a discussion about that. In a nutshell, many participants weren’t happy with the way they have been credited (I believe it was in a single page to be published at the end of the project) especially because the organisers would have had way more visibility that way. Being them established people in the independent games scene, for some people that felt going against the main idea of the project. I felt that was a sensible objection but I’m also sure about the fact that the organiser (and in particular Rami Ismail, who started the whole thing) didn’t mean it that way. Also, for some people even being credited could have been a problem, due to binding contracts I believe. So the situation wasn’t easy because you basically couldn’t provide a fit-for-all solution.

 I also noticed that you asked to be credited before the end of the project, how did you come to that decision, and what do you think about how that process was handled?

Well as I said I wasn’t that committed into being credited in any particular way. On the other hand I felt that being credited before the end and having my name connected with my game from start would have been nice. The decision for me was quite obvious and the process was handled nicely and easily (basically it was two short forms to state my intentions. 

Would you say you’re happy with how the situation was handled, and what about the process were you satisfied/dissatisfied with, if anything?

Very happy. I think Rami has done a great job in listening the concerns of the developers involved and offer a solution. Also he really listened everyone and he has been absolutely open to the ideas and the different points of view which came out. Authorship is often tricky to manage and it’s easy to make mistakes. It was really good to see Rami taking responsibility and trying to make it right. It’s unfortunately a behaviour I haven’t seen much in my life. Here that happened and I think it could be a valuable lesson for everyone.

 Do you have any comments on how you think it could have been handled better, or how you think it was handled well? 

It’s pretty much that. I think Rami and the organisers have been great in answering promply to the questions raised and that really helped getting thing straight and sorting everything out. The whole process – and I think this is vital – took less than 10 minutes of my time, which I found really respectful.

Additionally, after being credited, and after your meditation launching (if it has launched as of yet) have you noticed any increase in social media engagement or interest in your other projects that you would attribute to being involved in the project?

A little bit, yes. I was lucky and chosing one of the first days of the year really helped frankly because the project was at the peak of its popularity. Also I’ve been lucky because I got many reviews for the game, and it has been so well received. I’m grateful to have had that chance.

 And finally, do you have any general comments you’d like to make about your experience with the project as a whole, good or bad?

I would say it has been great for me! I learned a lot about making polished looking things very quickly and I’m happy with the final project. Still having fun exploring other people’s games, I genuinely think this has been a very nice project to take part in. And I am in really good company.


Sarah Hiebl

First, I know there was some controversy surrounding the credit process for contributors to the project, could you tell me your impression of how this happened?

First and foremost, it’s been a while since the whole thing happened with the crediting (1st of january pretty much) and I don’t have an exact recollection of what happened since it’s been a while. Please correct me if I got something wrong.

The Meditations Team communicated very little (how the launcher would look, what the credits will be like) and just assumed everyone will be happy with how they planned it. When everything got published people were surprised and annoyed, since many meditations game people on the other hand had a lot of different expectations. It boils down to not communicating enough, which the meditations team also admitted.

I also noticed that you asked to be credited before the end of the project, how did you come to that decision, and what do you think about how that process was handled?

The process of getting credited earlier was super tedious. I don’t want to complain too much since there were possibilities to discuss stuff with the team, but at that point I was already fed up. We got a bunch of different google questionnaires where we had to write down how we wanted to get credited and so on. I thought it was ironic, since we were asked not to use any language in our games to keep it accessible, but the google docs were far from being accessible, since the language used was very complex (especially for people who are not as good at english, which often hurts people less privileged). Also in the end, from what I remember, options got picked that just had the least resistance, which is not what anybody really wanted besides a small percentage. I don’t think the strictly democratic vote was the right call in that case, since it just washed up the result. Also, we all were under time pressure since the people who wanted to get credited wanted to get up there before the hype of the first few days died off. I think it would’ve been better to do a roundup with people who asked to be credited and ask them why and then formulate an idea, besides just letting everyone throw their opinion in the questionnaires. Sure, famous white dude dev xyz doesn’t need to be credited and doesn’t understand the fuss, so he just picks something. I also think that I was in a privileged position and didn’t liked to choose one of the ideas without knowing how that would benefit/hurt people less privileged. I think it’s important to understand what the reasons were for people being unhappy and trying to tackle the actual problems and not formulating a solution that just stems from the least resistance. I also think it would’ve been more important to listen to the less famous and less privileged people in the project and maybe make their vote count more.

Do you have any comments on how you think it could have been handled better, or how you think it was handled well? 

I can’t really understand how Rami never saw how problematic it is to have his name everywhere but not crediting any of the artists. He said doing so was to ensure the project is trustworthy and I believe him, I just don’t understand how he couldn’t see what that means for the creators themselves.

I do believe everyone in the meditations project had very good intentions and tried their best to handle the situation well and take everyone serious.

Additionally, after being credited, and after your meditation launching (if it has launched as of yet) have you noticed any increase in social media engagement or interest in your other projects that you would attribute to being involved in the project?

My meditations game released on June 22nd and didn’t receive much attention, neither did my social media profiles. The meditations game was like half a day late (I sent in my game 5 times in total but they still didn’t had included it on the launching day, so I had to message several people in the project to get it up and sent the game again). Every time I attended game jams I received way more attention. I think (and suspected) that the interest quickly died off after january/february and only a “hardcore” fanbase stayed. Recently the launcher often doesn’t work and additionally is hard to use, so I don’t think it’s keeping people invested enough.

And finally, do you have any general comments you’d like to make about your experience with the project as a whole, good or bad?

A big problem for me is the launcher itself. As I said, we were told not to use language to keep the game accessible, but the launcher is one of the most inaccessible pieces of software I’ve seen in a while. We never heard or seen anything about it and I think many meditations game project members could’ve added some valuable input on how to make this launcher better. There, again, was the problem of not communicating with the community, which is (still) baffling to me. The project was planned for like a year and nobody ever thought about actually talking to people in the community or let people test (?), because I think if people would’ve tested the launcher earlier, it would’ve been obvious on why it’s bad and inaccessible. Also, it took [away] every possibility for people to play who are on Linux, since it was forced to download the launcher. If it would’ve been just a simple download on the website, Linux folks could at least download it when it’s Linux friendly, because many games have been. I also think many people were lost in the additional step of downloading a launcher and since it basically didn’t work right away on any day of june (from what I’ve read on twitter) people stopped really caring for the games since it always throws an error.

The team also right away rejected the idea of people getting paid for the meditations. I also think that’s weird, since they apparently didn’t even try to think of a way how this could be possible. For example, I could see them introducing some sort of solidarity fund for people less privileged so that they’ll at least get paid. I’m sure there are people who would’ve wanted to contribute to that, especially in january, when the hype was the biggest. Again, I think it’s a shame that they didn’t asked their community for advice, since I think many great ideas and important opinions could’ve been shared.

Also the team itself was definitely (at least a little bit) fed up with the project at some point, because I got annoyed and snarky remarks when I asked for my game to get released. I understand why people are getting frustrated when they work for free and basically everyone in June had problems with their game being up, so I imagine them had to get a lot of messages. I think paying them would’ve also contributed to making people less stressed (since they had to do that at the side) and the project better as a whole. I believe Rami could’ve gotten some funding if he tried hard enough (funding it as an art project for example), but maybe I’m just naive. 

If I knew the full extent of meditationgames and how it would play out, I wouldn’t have contributed. Especially sending in the game countless times to not have it work on the launch date was just not very great. The game was very dear to me (about sexual assault), so I was very disappointed to not have it treated with more respect and how I felt like getting scolded by the team several times, when I tried to make sure it can go live in time.


Darion McCoy

First, I know there was some controversy surrounding the credit process for contributors to the project, could you tell me your impression of how this happened?

I assumed all creators would be credited before the end of the project. Considering the existing issues around the negligence of crediting work, I at least expected a discussion with all creators beforehand.

I also noticed that you asked to be credited before the end of the project, how did you come to that decision, and what do you think about how that process was handled?

I struggled with this decision. Once we began talking about the way it was addressed, a few participants expressed that showing all creators names might create bias. It implied that some folks may tune out of the experience after a specific designer’s project was featured – I think this is a valid concern. Also, some themes/narratives were pretty personal and I can understand wanting anonymity. On the other hand, you have these well known names up there (whom also participated in the project) initially … so I felt odd that it wasn’t just entirely transparent. Now thinking about this months later, I think the site should have only provided contact information for inquiries/issues.

Would you say you’re happy with how the situation was handled, and what about the process were you satisfied/dissatisfied with, if anything?

My only disappointment was the failure to communicate to all participants about crediting.

Do you have any comments on how you think it could have been handled better, or how you think it was handled well?

There should have been a conversation about crediting designers upfront. On a positive note, the voting process really allowed me to understand a different perspective and I appreciate that so much.

Max Arocena – aka Colorfiction

First, I know there was some controversy surrounding the credit process for contributors to the project, could you tell me your impression of how this happened?

I think the whole situation arose because the crediting strategy wasn’t explained. We all just received an invitation to take part in what is an amazing project, and naturally assumed there’d be a long credit list on the website. 

I also noticed that you asked to be credited before the end of the project, how did you come to that decision, and what do you think about how that process was handled?

Well if you work on something and other people are being credited for it then you have to be credited. I totally get the allure of the let’s wait till the end of the year to see who made this, but then why not have everybody involved in the project be a fun mystery? Now that would have been really cool; this mysterious launcher appears on the internet that presents a new game each day and nobody knows who’s behind it. Of course for publicity’s sake the press would vouch for it and be helpful insiders since they would secretly know the makers. I think there was a really amazing lost opportunity of creating an internet sensation we haven’t really experienced before.

Do you have any comments on how you think it could have been handled better, or how you think it was handled well?

I think a straightforward explanation of the crediting strategy before launch would have made things a lot simpler. 

Additionally, after being credited, and after your meditation launching (if it has launched as of yet) have you noticed any increase in social media engagement or interest in your other projects that you would attribute to being involved in the project?

I’m sure there was some impact but honestly nothing noticeable. The thing is that my experiential/relaxing work has a certain niche audience, whereas the horror work I’m currently involved in has a completely different and much bigger crowd. And that was a popular month sharing horror stuff so if there was any sort of impact from my involvement in Meditations it was unfortunately diluted. I don’t know what it is about people but they sure love to get their creep on haha.

And finally, do you have any general comments you’d like to make about your experience with the project as a whole, good or bad?

I’m ultimately really happy with the project, it’s an awesome concept. It also gave me an opportunity to take a break and jam on an idea I had circling in my head for a while and make a small game out of it. I’m glad I did it because I was so enamored by my meditation that I evolved it into Becalm, which surprisingly turned out to be my most popular game yet haha.

Damon L. Wakes

First, I know there was some controversy surrounding the credit process for contributors to the project, could you tell me your impression of how this happened?

I think the main problem was that it wasn’t addressed up-front, and the initial plan for crediting contributors didn’t necessarily line up with what everyone had in mind. I assumed that contributors would remain secret up until their piece was released, then be added to a public list.

I also noticed that you asked to be credited before the end of the project, how did you come to that decision, and what do you think about how that process was handled?

My preference was actually not to be credited before my contribution was released, but there was apparently some kind of mix-up and I didn’t feel strongly enough about it to say anything.

Would you say you’re happy with how the situation was handled, and what about the process were you satisfied/dissatisfied with, if anything?

The solution settled on isn’t what I personally wanted, but everybody was consulted about the issue as soon as it became apparent and I think that was the most appropriate thing to do at that point. I trust the majority of contributors are content with this arrangement and it isn’t objectionable to me.

Do you have any comments on how you think it could have been handled better, or how you think it was handled well?

I think the ideal solution would have been to explain the plan for crediting at the point people were invited to contribute work, but hindsight is 20/20. I feel as though the questionnaires sent out to try and settle on a solution could perhaps have been simplified – I don’t know whether I was credited early because I ticked the wrong box or because my name got shuffled into the wrong place in the results – but I appreciate the effort to present a comprehensive range of options.

Additionally, after being credited, and after your meditation launching (if it has launched as of yet) have you noticed any increase in social media engagement or interest in your other projects that you would attribute to being involved in the project?

I’ve had a grand total of seven visits to my site from the list of contributors, which is partly why I don’t mind my name being in there. However, my meditation hasn’t launched yet so that’s about seven more than expected.

And finally, do you have any general comments you’d like to make about your experience with the project as a whole, good or bad?

I think it’s a neat idea! I’m a big fan of “a thing a day” type projects and I’d be keen to contribute to something like this again.


Anonymous Contributor

First, I know there was some controversy surrounding the credit process for contributors to the project, could you tell me your impression of how this happened?

I saw some people that I follow on Twitter talking about it and up until that point, it hadn’t even crossed my mind. Because I am quite new and relatively unknown to the industry, I was just grateful for the opportunity and didn’t even notice that we were not credited or even compensated.

I also noticed that you asked to be credited before the end of the project, how did you come to that decision, and what do you think about how that process was handled?

I felt I deserved that recognition because it was something that I worked on so why should I not be credited? It just makes sense that we all should have been. I think that it was handled well afterwards but things were already uncomfortable and unsettling.

Would you say you’re happy with how the situation was handled, and what about the process were you satisfied/dissatisfied with, if anything?

Rami was very polite and accommodating afterwards but I feel like it shouldn’t have happened in the first place. I still can’t believe it did.

Additionally, after being credited, and after your meditation launching (if it has launched as of yet) have you noticed any increase in social media engagement or interest in your other projects that you would attribute to being involved in the project?

None at all. To be honest I don’t feel like I’ve gained anything positive at all having been a part of this project.

And finally, do you have any general comments you’d like to make about your experience with the project as a whole, good or bad?

Credit and compensate devs. Especially when you are in a hugely powerful position to.

You can find the next batch of interviews with contributors in Part 3 here.


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.