If the Develop Conference in Britain earlier this week was good for one thing, it was a healthy dose of games industry shit-talking. Like this rant from Positech's Cliff Harris, in which he says "Mark Rein is a jerk".
Positech is the team behind Gratuitous Space Battles, and yesterday Harris gave a talk at the conference (held in Brighton) with guys from Hello Games (Joe Danger), Beatnik (Plain Sight) and Introversion (Darwinia, Defcon). In the front row of that talk was Mark Rein, vice president of Epic Games (Gears of War, Unreal Tournament).
I'll let Harris explain in his own words:
Basically I started making the point, and mark was also agreeing about how someone can email you as an indie dev, and you can reply personally back to that potential customer, and hopefully, that way you have converted that guy to buying the game.
At this point, there was this derisive snort from this guy in the front row, who said something to the effect of ‘one guy? who cares, that's a waste of time'. He then started to lecture us on how that's a silly way to do it. I'm 95% sure that all four of us on the panel thought ‘what the fuck?' as well as ‘who is this guy'? compounded by Robin asking him if he worked in marketing.
Anyway… it turned out this guy was Mark Rein from Epic, although he seemed to assume everyone within earshot knew exactly who he was, and why he must obviously be right. I got the impression he was there to laugh at the little guys, or to just inform us how we are all wrong. Interestingly, it seemed there was someone from sports interactive (one time indies, as I recall) there, who seemed more on the indie wavelength than Mark. It would have been cool to chat with him.
So… I've given this a lot of thought, and weighed up the pros and cons of just putting this down to misinterpreting someone, and so on, and I have reached this conclusion.
Mark Rein is a jerk.
That's about...half of it. The rest is more of the same, and ends with "Triple-A studio bosses trying to lecture me on how to communicate better with gamers? Fuck off".
I don't where all this venom is coming from at this conference, especially since Brigthon is such a lovely place, but as a member of the peanut gallery, I'm loving it. This kind of raw emotion that's a refreshing relief from the usual "polished to within an inch of its life by PR" discourse in this business.