Background reading: http://www.continue-play.com/editors-blog-an-open-letter-to-chris-newton-owner-of-the-indie-game-magazine/
Yesterday, I received an email from a concerned writer who is currently working for The Indie Game Magazine (IGM). They wanted to ask me what I think they should do, as they’re currently torn between holding on to the “readership and connections” that IGM supposedly has, or leaving the publication and holding on to their reputation. Essentially, they realized they had to make a decision and weren’t sure which was better for their future.
“I am […] putting every ounce of free time into IGM, and I want it to be worthwhile not damaging to my future in the industry,” they told me.
I don’t want to disclose their identity, just in case this concern and honesty of theirs comes back around to bite them in the butt, and I know that even by sharing this around risks doing that, so I’m sorry to them if that’s the case. If it does come back to them, though, I’ll defend and support them and I’m sure most other people will if necessary, too. In any case, I believe they would come out with their head held high.
I wanted to share my response to this person in case anyone else is in a similar predicament and doesn’t know what decision to make. I’ve had to make these hard decisions a couple of times in my life, having left two publications (including IGM) where I was Editor, because of something I disagreed with or saw practices that I didn’t want to benefit from, be a part of, or encourage. I’ve felt that tug of believing you’ll be missing something, or letting people down, and it is hard to walk away from something in that situation. But sticking up for what you believe in is much more important, always.
Below is my response.
All I can really say to this is write where you feel comfortable, especially if you’re not relying on getting paid from it to support yourself, and are looking to just get experience at this point. Trust me, IGM don’t have any significant links to the “industry” that you’ll be missing out on. Not any more. If you’re truly that deeply unhappy about the practices of a publication you’re working for, find somewhere else or start a personal blog, perhaps.
It sounds like you’re genuinely interested in indie games and writing about them, so make sure your honesty and quality of work isn’t compromised when doing so – that’s important. You’re much better off holding your values tight to you.
For me, and the writers I respect the most, it’s not about the money, the pageviews, or any other stat-based concern. We write about indie games because we enjoy it and relish in sharing the games we discover as well as our thoughts on them with an appreciative community of players, developers, and critics.
I hope this helps in your decision, it sounds like you’re trying to do the right thing, so try to go with your guts and for what you believe in.