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 did not opt to be included in the partial credits list 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 who opted to not be included in the partial credits list here and the interviews with those 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.

@castpixel

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?

My impression of how this happened? I’m not in Rami’s head. I don’t like to assume, but if I was forced to, I’d hazard a guess that it was an oversight. I can easily see myself being content that every single artist would be fully credited when the year of Meditations games was over. In fact, I didn’t mind. I understand why other people mind though, and it’s true there’s a power dynamic where Rami is seen as an Auteur who gets all the glory.

I could easily have failed to foresee the problem myself. In fact, in my 14 years of lgbtq (mostly tq) organizing here in greece, we’ve always had project leaders and people who had more time to invest in political groups, demonstrations, manifesto-writing, etc, but we’ve had an agreement that being more out or more recognizable doesn’t mean one person is more important than the rest. Some things take group effort and inevitably the organizer gets remembered for it. But participating isn’t just about credit for me. Some (most) things are bigger than me.

 

I also noticed that you aren’t included in the partial credits list on the meditations.games site, can you tell me why you came to that decision, and how you feel the process itself was handled?

I decided the moment this project was suggested to me, that I would play by the rules. The rules were do a throwaway thing in 6 hours, *if* you want and have the time, and you’ll be credited along with 364 other names when the project is over. 

At some point I noticed people were strongly convinced this was unfair. I didn’t mind. I don’t feel I was exploited, I regularly do things for fun or for cake. i.e. not for money, *but* money isn’t the only reward. I felt Rami immediately addressed the concerns. I don’t remember what the exact proposed solution was, but I thought at the time, if I had felt slighted against, this would satisfy me. On top of his apology too.

 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 wasn’t unhappy before. I felt the apology and immediate effort to remedy things was refreshing. As in, organizer with a lot of power takes time to reflect on what people are saying.

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

I didn’t feel the outrage myself. I’m not the one to comment on whether it was handled well. I’d be interested to hear from those people though, or read an article about what the consensus was!

Additionally, after your meditation launching, have you noticed any increase in social media engagement or interest in your other projects that you’d attribute to being involved in the project?

No. To be fair, recognition was never why I participated. It just felt like a fun thing, and I was in a very dark place in my life where fun things were a nice distraction to just working and being depressed all day. That said, I’m at 20k+ twitter followers, and the project got a lot of love when I published it (for free) on my itch.io. But it was within expected parameters, i.e. 2k engagements is usual for a well-polished game or animation of mine, when I tweet about it. I did get two let’s plays though, from two dedicated youtubers who decided to play all the meditations games every day! That was fun, and I was happy to give back some visibility to them and discovered some cool gamedevs from their previous coverage of meditations.

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?

It was 6 hours of work, a lot of self-imposed limits (in addition to the Meditations rules, i.e. no use of text, don’t make gameplay too long because we need to respect people’s time) and a lot of fun.

Owen Bell

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’m not someone that is super plugged into the Twitter discourse, so I wasn’t aware of the controversy until after it had been bubbling away for a fair while.

My feelings after I did become aware of it though was that I wasn’t sure how it could have been avoided. When big names are involved it’s hard to prevent the spotlight being pointed at them, even when they are trying to avoid it. I think a better job could have been done anticipating this occurring. The decision to hide everyone’s names until the end came from a good place, but it meant that the names that were there, the organizers’, were the names people ended up seeing. Consequently, I’m not surprised it happened.

I also noticed that you aren’t included in the partial credits list on the meditations.games site, can you tell me why you came to that decision, and how you feel the process itself was handled?

That list was a voluntary option that was provided after the earlier issues. Personally, I felt like that space was for those that needed the visibility the most. I’m hardly well known in the game space, but I know there are others for whom the exposure would be more valuable, so I’d rather not be crowding out their names.

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’m pretty mixed on this one. At first it didn’t bother me that much. I saw myself as just one person in 365 devs that made this project happen, so I was fine with my name not being listed until the end.

Then I saw this article. Meditations was being talked about by a big website and my game (January 15th) was specifically mentioned with a screenshot and everything, but the author didn’t mention any of the creators of the games that he highlighted. That was incredibly frustrating. Wasn’t part of the point of the project to bring attention to people? And yet when our games were getting talked about, we, the creators, were not getting credit.

I don’t know what ended up happening here. Perhaps the lack of a running credit list meant that the author just didn’t have our names so he chose not to include them. Or maybe he decided that, because of the controversy, it would not be fair to list the names of the handful of creators he focused on  out of 365. Whatever the reason, getting my work highlighted, but then not receiving credit, sucked. I don’t regret participating in Meditations, not for a second, but part of me wishes that my game hadn’t even been included in the article.

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

A rolling credits list might have been nice. Perhaps with a screenshot so people could remember the game that the name was attached to.

Additionally, after your meditation launching, have you noticed any increase in social media engagement or interest in your other projects that you’d attribute to being involved in the project?

My experience with Twitter was the exact opposite of my experience with the article. Where the article didn’t even acknowledge my existence, Twitter was where I made real, human connections through my work. The theme of laying someone to rest resonated with people and it led to several great conversations, including with some people I really respect in the industry. It let me see that this game I made had brought value into people’s lives.

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 enjoyed being part of Meditations and I’m glad I made the game, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have very mixed feelings about all of this. Credit is a tricky problem in this case and I don’t know how you solve that satisfactorily, but I still feel like I got burned.

Dante Douglas

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?

From what I can tell, the first conversations regarding crediting surfaced on Twitter in early January of 2019, shortly after the announcement of the project proper. This is important to note because the project had been “in progress” for (from what I know) about a year and a half before that point, but behind closed doors in order to facilitate the “surprise box” nature of the launcher itself. I was approached by a game developer who was a friend of mine with the pitch for the project, which included information regarding crediting and how crediting would be handled upon release. I thought the idea was rad, and definitely wanted to be a part of it.

I can’t find the specific document now (it was a shared document and likely I’ve lost access to it or it’s been deleted since its purpose has been fulfilled), but I remember it being very clear about the process of crediting and how it was (originally) going to happen: Contributors would not have their names/handles attached to the project except a) on the day of their release and b) after the project’s conclusion (at the end of 2019). I thought it was a great idea, it’s a weird, volunteer, game-jam-esque project that had an air of mystery and fun about it, and since names wouldn’t be publicized it wouldn’t run into the common problem of niche-celebrity culture in indie game dev (“Oh wow, [x] person worked on this, I’m going to check out their thing but no one else’s”). It felt like a “strength in numbers” thing, with an additional flair of cool mystery box stuff and timed releases.

When the conversation began on Twitter in early January, I felt like it was badly handled on many sides. Persons who were not involved with the project called it misleading and potentially coercive, many statements by Rami Ismail (while well-intentioned) fueled the flames by not immediately committing to fix plans and it seemed like at least a few contributors had not been properly informed of the crediting process when joining the project.

Since contributors were often asked to participate by different people, I can understand there may have been some miscommunication in the crediting information being passed to contributors. All I can say is that I felt comfortable in the crediting as it was originally pitched to me, and had no issue with the idea. Again, it felt less like a curated “package” of games and more like an experimental project: hyper-small, niche works being shown in a game jam style.

I also noticed that you aren’t included in the partial credits list on the meditations.games site, can you tell me why you came to that decision, and how you feel the process itself was handled?

I agreed with the original crediting process, felt no financial or career need to have my name out there before its intended time, and had faith in people to look me up afterward if they thought my game was interesting. I had no interest in attaching my name because I felt like the partial credits list would, purposefully or not, end up being used as a publicity boost for the project instead of what I had initially thought the project to be, which was a collaborative quasi-secret surprise box. 

Put more simply: I wanted people to play Meditations, not to play “my game in Meditations”.

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 there should have been a stronger, clearer explanation of what the project was and was not. At least from my perspective, as I’ve mentioned, it was a game-jam-adjacent low-effort showcase. Games were intended to take minimum development time (this was stressed in my original infosheet) and be finished in a minimum amount of time. I believe a lot of early spectators believed the project to be more curated and more polished than it ended up being, which led to (understandable) worries about crediting and labor-hours. I don’t believe the idea was bad, but it clearly needed to be communicated better to both contributors and the general public.

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

A lot of invitations to be part of Meditations were done peer-to-peer. This was almost inevitable given the scope of the project (365 developers). However, this led to people often referencing others to the project and possibly not fully briefing them on the particulars of the project–I can only assume this, based on how some contributors spoke up about not knowing about the crediting process during early public conversations in January. 

This could have been remedied by (as I’ve mentioned above) a stronger communication on the project’s particulars to contributors and the public, but also by maintaining a small “staff” of people who can reliably and competently explain the project to new contributors, instead of relying on peer-to-peer invitations and risking information being miscommunicated.

This doesn’t have to be a major effort, just a couple folks who can be “point people” in situations of getting new contributors onboarded.

Additionally, after your meditation launching, have you noticed any increase in social media engagement or interest in your other projects that you’d attribute to being involved in the project?

No, not particularly–though I have a substantial enough following already that Meditations wasn’t probably going to make a dent on that anyway. I made a 2 minute long game, I didn’t expect engagement through the roof. It touched a few people and that’s all I wanted from it.

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?

While a lot of the conversation and blowback frustrated me, I still find the project itself extremely interesting and well-worth existing in the world of indie games. I can only hope that a lot of the speculation and criticisms (some of which felt overtly in bad faith) did not overly affect the prospects of the designers and the games that are part of Meditations, since they should be the stars here anyway.

Jon Tetrino

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?

Essentially, it comes down to a mix of communication and a general assumption that Rami would be sensible with how credits were to be handled. I think it’s a mark of the trusting nature of the indie community that, as far as I am aware, nobody asked about the process in an effective manner and, frankly, I’m not sure Rami would have responded to concerns that were raised before a large number of people started to publicly comment on it.

I think, for as much as Rami may be unaware of it (or aware and simply uncaring), his name holds a certain weight in Indie circles to the point that he is about as close to, say, the Tim Schafer of the indie community. Everyone knows his name, everyone is at least vaguely aware of his work, and while his name isn’t as household as Schafer, you can guarantee that for every ten PC centric “traditional” players (i.e. not those under the “casual” umbrella) at least one is either aware of a game he has worked on (even if not of his name) or has one in their library. While there are a few names like this (unfortunately mostly male, but such as Mike Bithell), Rami’s constant pushing towards education and numerous public facing engagements has given him a surface reputation for being “for the indies”.

So with this in mind, a lot of people were rightfully hurt that he seemingly hadn’t considered to make the crediting process clear to the developers, as well as hurt that they themselves didn’t think to ask.

Alongside this, some controversy was spawned by the fact that a few hundred people were involved in this, but it was Rami’s name on the front page. While it was clear from the guide that this would be an art piece, by the time it had released it felt more like it was Rami’s piece, for Rami’s benefit, than something a lot of people had put work into. This likely fuelled the fire when it came to the credits.

Interestingly, I still can’t find any mention of Rami at all on the meditations site now. There was an agreement he proposed wherein all action items had to be completed before his name returned. I may have missed it, but he also may not have updated the site.  I remember there being a link for a private referral as mentioned, but I can’t find it right now.

I also noticed that you aren’t included in the partial credits list on the meditations.games site, can you tell me why you came to that decision, and how you feel the process itself was handled?

For my decision the answer is simple: I’m not physically or mentally fit enough for game development to be my long term primary career, my submission to Meditations was frankly crap compared to many entries and I’m fortunate enough that I’ve enough friends and acquaintances in the industry (and some inherent privilege I don’t use but must admit I have) that I don’t need to shine a spotlight on myself when others rightfully should have that chance. I fully understand and support those who decided to throw their names up early.

I feel the process itself was handled reasonably well – Rami, in some apparent humility, sent out emails with polls to everyone involved, multiple times, for feedback on what to do once he realised the participants were not all happy. He offered the option for those who wished to have their names listed on the site early, and as you can see some chose to. My only real negative I have is the resulting page – he was very careful to omit the fact there was an error in his planning. Though if the intent of this page is to allow others to prove themselves for their portfolio, this is a sensible decision.

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 Rami did the best he could considering the circumstances. He realized he had fucked up and while it has soured some of the relationship he has with some involved, his responses were quick and measured, and the offered solution was at least on the table within two weeks. Frankly, I doubt he could have handled it better, short of having the foresight to ask in the first place (something we’re all culpable for).

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

I guess see above?

Additionally, after your meditation launching, have you noticed any increase in social media engagement or interest in your other projects that you’d attribute to being involved in the project?

No, but I think Meditations as a result is a good example of both how presentation, theming and timing matter for visibility in terms of game releases. If you were to ask those involved with the games involving dogs, released reasonably early in the annual cycle, you’ll have a very positive response I’m sure. But little one-shot things like mine with no real identifying premise do not raise much social media credit. I did, however, use it as a learning experience when combined with the response resultant from my work with the Sand Gardeners at Rezzed this year.

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?

On the whole I enjoy the idea of the project, and I think for something so ambitious it has done very well. I feel that Rami needs to understand that he is a person of influence, and is very much out of the loop over the daily struggles of most indie devs, but he is capable of admitting his mistakes which is an important thing, even if he has to be publicly pushed. I’d do it again, probably, if it was better communicated from the start.

Johnlee Cooper

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’m not sure where it originated as I only found out about it from Rami’s response to it, but I think people signed up without realizing that a small note in the guidelines mentioned that the contributors to the project were supposed to be secret until the days their projects came out on. The original plan was to only release a full credit list after the whole year had passed. I was aware of this signing on, and didn’t really mind personally, I liked the mystique factor, if you miss a day you miss it etc. I can understand people not noticing this fact though as the guidelines were kind of messy, and being upset after the fact. 

I also noticed that you aren’t included in the partial credits list on the meditations.games site, can you tell me why you came to that decision, and how you feel the process itself was handled?

Like I said, I quite liked the original plan so I didn’t bother submitting my info for the partial credit list. I enjoyed having my thing drop the day of with no warning.

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

As far as I can tell it was handled quite well by Rami and the team, who were very willing to change their plan and accommodate to what the people collectively wanted. There were 2 stages of votes on what to do, and as far as I know the opt-in partial credits list seems to have been a satisfactory conclusion for most, although the fact that you’re doing this article means that I guess not everyone is happy with it. I think in hindsight the best thing to do would have been to make the plan clearer to people entering, everything was organized in a spreadsheet which made things a little hard to read. 

Additionally, after your meditation launching, have you noticed any increase in social media engagement or interest in your other projects that you’d attribute to being involved in the project?

The day of the meditation, I got quite a lot of ‘engagement’ on twitter, more than my game releases normally get. It led to a couple twitter follows though I don’t know whether any of those people actively keep up with the games I’m making now. More than quantity though is that the people who played my meditation seemed to actually meditate on it, which was really cool. There were people who wrote little interpretations or recorded their reactions to it on youtube. I don’t get that kind of thoughtful engagement much normally and it felt really great. I think in that sense I got exactly what I wanted out of the 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?

I had a great time, a lot of people played and thought about my game, I don’t care much about credit, It could have been organized better but that’s easy to say in hindsight and it’s generally quite an impressive undertaking.

Sam Potasznik

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 someone said something on twitter about how it was shitty for the devs of the individual meditations not to be credited?

I also noticed that you aren’t included in the partial credits list on the meditations.games site, can you tell me why you came to that decision, and how you feel the process itself was handled?

I think when I decided to participate in the project, I had lots of grand visions of self-promotion. But then I decided, it’s really not that kind of thing – I’ll send in my game and it’ll be fun to claim that day. It didn’t seem important to me to be credited beyond my single day, but I understand that may be different for other folks.

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’m happy with how it was handled, but I tried not to pay too much attention to it, honestly. I’m pretty twitter-limited.

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 it was handled pretty well? 

Additionally, after your meditation launching, have you noticed any increase in social media engagement or interest in your other projects that you’d attribute to being involved in the project?

I got some really nice comments the day my meditation came out, and that was very sweet to see. I had released my meditation previously as a jam, but this got way more response, and I’m pleased with that. I’m pretty much off twitter these days, but probably if I wanted to, I could interact more with the community to get better engagement and more followers. 

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?

For me, personally, the project was a positive thing. I got to show a game of mine to some new folks. And it seemed like folks found me on the day they played my thing so I do feel I was properly credited which is nice.

Grhyll

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?

If I’m correct, but I wasn’t really involved in all that, the way credits would be handled weren’t made very clear. It probably stems from what the devs were expecting from the project. Some, like me, were just happy to make a small game that would be played by people, whereas others probably saw that as a nice addition in their bio (in addition to making a cool small game).

Quite understandably, those people were a bit disappointed when realizing their name would only appear the day their game was live. I can’t say why this issue didn’t occur sooner to Rami, but if I had to guess, well I’d say it was quite a big project with many aspects, and this one must have slipped.

I also noticed that you aren’t included in the partial credits list on the meditations.games site, can you tell me why you came to that decision, and how you feel the process itself was handled?

I really digged the concept of the project, and I felt like the way the credit system was planned respected this vision better. I can’t remember if the full list being on the site once the year is over was originally there, but it seems satisfying to me. If I remember correctly (I often don’t, sorry if some of the things I write here are incorrect), a few of the devs were in my opinion a bit more virulent than needed when the whole thing started, but Rami gave me the impression of taking the matter very seriously and doing his best to resolve it.

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

Yep, I was satisfied. I think Rami was sincere with the devs. I believe some of them still weren’t happy with the propositions (can’t remember what they were proposing instead…), and so they left, it sure would have been better if everyone had found a good solution. I don’t mind at all the partial list, the most important aspect is that the people involved are happy with how it ended.

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

Well ideally it should have been clearly communicated when the devs committed to making a game, so either they can choose not to take part, or just talk about it with Rami and change it beforehand.

Additionally, after your meditation launching, have you noticed any increase in social media engagement or interest in your other projects that you’d attribute to being involved in the project?

I think a few persons followed me on Twitter (which is a serious increase considering I’m not exactly a Twitter star!), but nothing really meaningful. I didn’t expect a lot from that to be honest, my main goal was to have people play something I created sincerely (it’s nice to make games, I love it, and I love it even more when people play it!).

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 really like the concept and I’m quite impressed it goes so well, considering the technical challenges. Sadly, there still have been some issues, with the launcher having to be reinstalled and some other weird things to do, and I recently stopped playing the games (reinstalled the launcher, still didn’t work, had connection troubles at the time, and then the day after I forgot, and so I missed a few days, and finally I just let it go). I guess I’m not the only one, and it’s a bit sad the amount of players goes down (well I guess it is, maybe I’m wrong, but the discussions on Twitter have less and less messages), the developers who made games for the final days deserve just as much players as the first ones. Maybe the same thing but online would make it more accessible (although possibly even harder technically, for the launcher as well as for the devs).

Steven Zavala

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?

The crediting issue seemed to result from not crediting the various contributors over the duration of the project but only during each person’s day, with the credits each developer provided being displayed on the launcher and (optionally) within the game itself. The full credits would then be displayed after the year long cycle of games was complete.

Some people viewed it as a way to take credit for the individual developers’ work and even went as far as to infer some kind of malice or wrong doing on Rami (Ismail’s) part. I never saw it that way and instead looked at as more of a performance piece. As each act takes the stage, they are credited and then at the end when the curtains close, the full credits would roll. I can see why some people may have had a different reaction, but I feel like the negativity was overblown.

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 declined to be included in the list of the full credits until the project’s run wrapped because, like I said in the previous answer, I liked the feel of it being an artistic performance. Plus, without a direct link to the part I contributed to, my name in a list of contributors wouldn’t mean as much. Based on the ephemeral nature of the project, even saying that you worked on it wouldn’t lead to anything unless someone booted up the launcher on the right day.

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 the solution was handled well. Rami ran a poll and then, based on the result of the poll, credited everyone that requested it.

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

The only thing that could have been improved would have been to communicate the way crediting would be handled more clearly to those that signed up. When I read the guidelines, I understood that crediting would be handled the way it was intended, with each person being crediting for their contribution during it’s run, but there was ambiguity for alternate interpretations.

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 didn’t notice too much of an uptick after my own meditation game launched. Ironically, the most recognition I got was for reviewing the meditations entries for other well known developers, including Jan Nijman, the other half of Vlambeer. But my contribution was a memorial to my friend Jacob and a way to work through my feelings after his suicide, so recognition wasn’t really the point.

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?

Overall, I’m glad I contributed to the project. The attention from the general public has waned over time, but I’ve still played each entry and I’m inspired by the different directions that everyone has gone with it.

Del “birdpun” Nordlund

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 actually don’t know much about the controversy around the credit process; I was busy at the time and only found out about it a few days later when everything had pretty much settled. I recall seeing a vote for what sort of crediting system contributors would prefer and that’s how I found out.

I also noticed that you aren’t included in the partial credits list on the meditations.games site, can you tell me why you came to that decision, and how you feel the process itself was handled?

According to the site, the full list of contributors will be available on 31 December 2019 and I’m honestly happy to wait it out. I’m glad that there is a partial list for folks who preferred having it available though.

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’m not in a position to comment on this, but I’m satisfied with how things turned out.

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

I don’t know much about the situation but I think posing a vote to the contributors was a good decision.

Additionally, after your meditation launching, have you noticed any increase in social media engagement or interest in your other projects that you’d attribute to being involved in the project?

I haven’t noticed much of an increase, but around the time my meditation released it did generate some responses on social media from people sharing their experiences. It was very heartwarming to hear different yet similar stories about how group games helped strengthen friendships and get people through rough times.

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?

So this is embarrassing, but I actually found a layering error when my meditation released through seeing a gameplay video! Visual feedback was hidden behind a layer of artwork so the sudden change in scene and music was quite jarring for some and I apologize for it. I’ll be rereleasing the fixed version on my itch.io page for those interested. All that aside, it’s truly amazing to have been part of the meditations project; sharing my reflection and experiencing others’ has really shown what a supportive and uplifting community we have.

Daniele Giardini (Demigiant)

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?

Simple miscommunication, but in good faith. The credit process wasn’t clear at the beginning, so every developer involved was assuming different things about it.

I also noticed that you aren’t included in the partial credits list on the meditations.games site, can you tell me why you came to that decision, and how you feel the process itself was handled?

For me credits are a matter of, sure, visibility, but most of all respect—I have rather strong opinions about them in general, but since these questions are only related to Meditations I won’t derail. In this case I took Meditations as an excuse to finally do a personal gamey thing I wanted to do since ages, so I didn’t really care about the visibility. I simply chose to be part of the complete list that will appear at the end of the year.

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

Personally I would’ve preferred a different approach to credits (game out, credit out); but all the credits systems proposed had their reasons to be and there was no “correct” approach valid for all participants. In the end there was a vote among all developers and the current system won (apparently with a vast majority), so I’m satisfied with it because it was a fair decision process.

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

A more thoughtful and clear approach to credits since the beginning would’ve made things simpler, but it was handled pretty well after that and in a sensible way, since it considered all the participants’ needs/wishes with an open discussion and voting (and one must remember that, considering the amount of developers involved and the scope of the project, it wasn’t an easy feat).

Additionally, after your meditation launching, have you noticed any increase in social media engagement or interest in your other projects that you’d attribute to being involved in the project?

Not really, no.

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 consider this a good experience. It was nice to be involved in such a big-group project and most of all I was glad that I finally made that thingie I wanted to do since a while (even if I wasn’t really happy with the outcome of said thingie, but that’s another matter).

Alon Karmi

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?

In keeping with the ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ principle behind the Meditations project, Rami wanted to give developers in-launcher credit when their piece airs and also publish a huge credit list on December 31.

Unfortunately, this plan was not clearly communicated when Rami’s team recruited us. Many developers pointed out that while they had to wait 12 months for explicit credit, the Meditation staff received prominent and permanent mentions from day one on the website.

This instigated a small protest, during which Rami was alerted to the situation and some developers threatened to pull their games out of the project. At this point Rami understood he effed up and stepped out to fix it.

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 communicated with us in order to decide upon the most optimal solution. 

In my opinion, there was a pervasive sense of ‘righting a wrong’. Rami came through as genuinely apologetic about the whole situation and tried to do his best to make amends.

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

The post-launch situation was handled adequately I feel. However, the team should have clarified how contributors would be credited. 

The conversation would have occurred before launch and the team could settle on a more satisfactory plan much sooner.

Additionally, after your meditation launching, have you noticed any increase in social media engagement or interest in your other projects that you’d attribute to being involved in the project?

A bit. I gained a handful of new Twitter followers, and got very positive reactions from the ridiculously dedicated YouTubers who upload each day’s meditation. A few days before my Meditation launched I had published the game page for my latest game and there was a small increase in clicks. Overall a net benefit, can’t really complain about it 🙂

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? 

Meditations is an interesting project with a neat concept, and it’s fascinating to see how people express themselves in these small, interactive spaces. It is perhaps too fragile and momentary, riding just off the edge of fake scarcity.

If you are away from your computer for a day or got home late from work, you run the danger of missing a title completely for reasons you don’t directly control. Other than that, the project’s time scale is way too long for its own good, speaking in retrospect. A month, two at most, would have been enough to satisfy the audience and to have made its point. The long-ass timescale caused the conversation around it to die down around February, and besides a few hardcore fans it’s gone off the radar completely, even in the artsy indie game sphere.

I don’t regret taking part in it, and I don’t think it’s a bad project. I don’t have a shred of doubt in my mind that Rami was acting with the purest intentions and tried making something special here. I am a big believer of knowing when the hell to finish your film/game/series/project because it just won’t hold for that long, though. And that’s a point Meditations drops hard at.

Sean LeBlanc

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?

The primary issue from my point of view was a failure to communicate. Hundreds of contributors were invited without being told certain elements were TBD, and weren’t consulted or informed when decisions were made (or perhaps some were, but selectively rather than democratically). Multiple other issues that came up before release even foreshadowed this lack of communication (instructions being vague and/or hard to find in the provided docs, lack of feedback/confirmation on submissions, suggestions/feedback going ignored, etc.).

A lot of folks came into the project with a variety of questions and assumptions, especially around the tangible end product, and they largely went unanswered and unaddressed until the day of release, at which point they became a matter of public debate rather than part of the collaborative process.

I also noticed that you aren’t included in the partial credits list on the meditations.games site, can you tell me why you came to that decision, and how you feel the process itself was handled?

To be honest, I’m conflicted to this day. For context if you haven’t played or don’t remember my entry specifically, it’s one which feels disingenuous if presented in an environment in which I adamantly demand attribution. But as much as I’d like to be able to say that the decision is a purely artistic one meant to support the work, indecision played a large part: had the partial list solution been opt-out rather than opt-in, I’m sure my name would be listed.

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

“Happy” would be a stretch, but although a lot of my answers are negative, I do have a lot of respect for how the organizers handled it given the circumstances. On the day of release, I sent one of the organizers quite a long message airing my concerns, not really expecting a response given how it had already become that day’s Discourse. However, I received a reply which explained his intent, acknowledged mistakes made, and broke down why a few of the commonly suggested “simple” solutions weren’t feasible.

The following surveys also felt like the best possible move post-release: they weren’t perfect, and retroactive action could only do so much, but the rapid shift towards trying to arrive at a democratic solution clearly demonstrated an effort to establish the communication that had been missing from the start, and allowed the large majority of contributors to come to a consensus.

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

One thing that definitely left a sour taste in my mouth is that the question asking if contributors would like to opt-in to the early partial list was subtly worded in such a way as to imply selfishness. I imagine there are a number of people who were upset with the lack of credits, but who did not ask to be included in the end because they felt guilty. Attribution should always be the assumed default, and people shouldn’t be shamed for the audacity of wanting it.

Additionally, after your meditation launching, have you noticed any increase in social media engagement or interest in your other projects that you’d attribute to being involved in the project?

It’s difficult to quantify this far out, but the impact seems negligible. There was a small boost of engagement on the day itself, and I’m sure I have a follower or two who’ve stuck around since then, but the daily nature makes for a steep tail, even for someone featured relatively early in the year (though I suppose even being contacted for an interview like this is continued engagement to a degree).

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?

At the end of the day, I don’t regret having participated, but the whole thing was exhausting and it really didn’t need to be. Meditations is a project which is most remarkable in its collaborative effort, and it’s one spearheaded by individuals well-known for championing under-represented voices; it’s a shame it took a public controversy for them to step back and listen to the voices being brought together.

You can find the next batch of interviews with contributors in Part 5 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.