Interviews

Interviews
The Tao of Notch - Beyond Twitter

Brad Glasgow | 3 Aug 2016 12:00
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TE: Several game journalists have taken to outright attacking you on Twitter. The guy from Rock Paper Shotgun called you "an arsehole."

MP: (Laughs) Well he's not wrong!

rps_arsehole-300

TE: Are they treating you differently now from three years ago?

MP: Uh... yeah? But I also think the climate has changed a bit from three years ago.

TE: How?

MP: I think they actually made money back then, partially. And now because of all the Gamergate stuff it's become so much more important to choose a side in it. Otherwise people are going to ask you, "what side are you on?!" or whatever. Very few people managed to pull it off. The Escapist was pretty good. So you kind of have to pick a side, and of course you're going to pick whatever your other friends in "games journalism" - very big quotation marks there - are doing as well, because that's your culture. That's what you grew up in. Not because of some nefarious conspiracy.

TE: So you think game journalism has taken a side in the culture war?

MP: No, not all of them. Of course not. But Rock Paper Shotgun, I used to love them. Now it's just kind of... meh. And Polygon, they don't even like games anymore I think?

TE: I saw you talked a little about that video of Polygon playing DOOM.

MP: (Laughs) That video, and the fact that instead of just going, "yeah that was hilarious, sorry I had a bad day." Instead of doing something like that and just embracing the gamer thing they use these weird excuses. "No we don't have to be experts on games just because we write about games!" I mean, no, a sports commentator doesn't have to be the best sports player in the world. But if you're reviewing football, then yeah you have to know how to play football. If you're reviewing games then yeah you sure as hell need to know how to play games.

TE: You've talked a lot about how people in the industry have supported you privately but they can't support you publicly. Why can't they?

"It's not like people are actually starving to death. It's just people having political opinions online."

MP: Because they don't want to get involved. They don't want to draw eyes to themselves. They maybe don't think it's as important as I do. They don't want to tarnish their reputation. They don't want VICE hit pieces written about them. And I think that's also why the hit pieces happen, because they want to make sure they show this kind of behavior is being punished. Fortunately, I don't care.

TE: That's that freedom we were talking about.

MP: It's also the fact that I kind of realized I wasn't this entrepreneur thing. This is just something that happened to me. I just wanted to stay home and learn how physics work.

TE: Does it hurt you at all that these people aren't stepping up more to support you?

MP: No, not at all. I understand completely why and it doesn't really matter. It's not like people are actually starving to death. It's just people having political opinions online.

TE: Has being controversial on Twitter cost you anything, in terms of personal relationships?

MP: I've had people I feel have been a little bit like they claim to be supportive and they're not, and then they still want me to support them, which feels weird. I think the only other time I've talked to someone about this was Dan Baranowsky, who makes very good video game music for Crypt of the Necrodancer. He doesn't agree with me, which is fine, I love him very much. We met in San Francisco at the GDC this year, and he was like, "hey man congratulations!" because I got some award, the Ambassador award or something - oh god I should probably know what awards I've gotten (laughs) [Note: It was the Pioneer Award]. But anyway, he knows we don't agree on a lot of stuff but he congratulated me anyway. It felt nice to have him say that because I knew he doesn't agree with me and I respect him.

TE: Is that generally how people are? Your contacts in the video game industry, can they deal with you being controversial on Twitter?

MP: I think so.

TE: Are any of them telling you in a DM that maybe you shouldn't say something?

MP: Not that much these days. Early on I was saying some things and people contacted me. I don't even remember what I said, but they contacted me because they had been close to people that had like weird things happen to them or whatever and they told me "no this is actually a bigger problem than you think." Then I basically just appreciated that, just learning, because I feel like I get a lot of shit. People send me threatening emails and whatever, but it seems to be way worse for females out there.

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