Elon Musk Buying Twitter Sucks, But Marginalised Game Devs Aren’t Leaving

Elon Musk Buying Twitter Sucks, But Marginalised Game Devs Aren’t Leaving
Photo: Patrick Pleul, Getty Images

Yesterday, Elon Musk bought Twitter for $US44 ($61) billion dollars, and a lot of people in the video game industry are unhappy about it. Some are making Mastodon accounts, others are making jokes, while others are voicing their concerns about the Tesla founder taking over the platform. However, a sizable number of marginalised game developers are adamantly refusing to leave Twitter, with many of them explaining how Twitter has considerably helped their careers.

The Tesla CEO is a polarising figure who often becomes even more controversial when he tweets. Some of his greatest hits include threatening to pull stock options from Tesla employees if they voted to unionize, being investigated by the Securities and Exchange commission for making a 420 tweet, falsely accusing a cave rescuer of being a pedophile, and downplaying the severity of coronavirus.

Despite the public outcry against Musk taking over Twitter, some developers have nonetheless found that Twitter offers unique advantages to their business. Chandana Ekanayake is the co-founder of Outerloop Games, an independent studio that develops colourful action games such as Falcon Age and Thirsty Suitors. He tweeted that his company “hired most of [their] team” through Twitter hashtags, including #visiblewomen and #southasianartists.

Ekanayake told Kotaku that his studio has employees in the U.S., Canada, U.K., China, Australia, and sometimes India and South Africa. “Twitter has allowed us to find folks around the world and lets us stay remote,” he said, and he intends to stay on the social media platform until a viable alternative exists.

Another developer who’ll be staying on Twitter is Neha Patel, a freelance video game composer and sound designer. She composed music for Lost Your Marbles on the new Playdate portable console, and designed sound effects for the indie cooking game Venba. While she criticised the “shitzone” of Twitter in comments to Kotaku, she still found a “respectful, welcoming, and educational” game audio community on the platform. She said that she “learnt more useful skills in a single year on Twitter than my three years of undergrad.”

Patel also told Kotaku that Twitter taught her her professional worth. “The online community was more worker oriented, anti free labour, and uplifting than anything I had seen in real life, and I come from a game city hub!,” she said. “The job offers were often from folks that cared for workers and had respect for game audio.”

She finds Twitter to be a very usable service, too. “Unlike other platforms, I don’t need to post a ton of pics or [be] forced to create viral 10 second videos,” she said. “I can survive on Twitter as a shy person, and that means a lot. The algorithm absolutely sucks …yet Twitter still gives the most visibility with the lowest amount of effort needed than any other platform.”

Some game developers started using Twitter out of necessity, but realised its merits later on. Jenna Yow is a narrative designer and game writer (they also wrote a Kotaku editorial recently). They told Kotaku that they graduated from college during the pandemic, and never had traditional networking experiences as a result. “I would say 90% of the work [that] I’ve gotten has been explicitly through people I met on Twitter,” they said. “One major exception [was] Spirit Swap because I met the creative director through a Lebanon fundraising project. But we kept in touch via Twitter.”

Even aside from the technological convenience, Yow finds that Twitter offers a professional community that is difficult to find elsewhere. “One of the most important parts of that was finding people like me,” said Yow. “I found other queer Arabs working in game development through Twitter. Before, I was usually the only Arab person in the room.”

They’re not uncritical of how Twitter was even before the Musk acquisition. However, they feel that the advantages currently outweigh the downsides. “Twitter [is] a fucking shithole,” Yow admitted, “[But] it still feels more like people hire me as a person and not just [diversity] boxes [to be checked off].”

Comments

  • I was honestly shocked when Musk in that press conference said “I’m going to make it so that using any hashtags pertaining to marginalised voices and visible women in game development will result in a shadow an for that account.” Pretty fucked up if you ask me.

    …what do you mean he never said that?
    …what do you mean Jiang stated that Musk buying twitter sucks without justifying it once in the article?
    Do you mean to say this is one of those pointless doomposting articles and that nothing will actually change for the people mentioned in the article? That you’d still be able to recruit for the minorities of your choosing via hashtags as you could before?

    Huh.

    • HA, agree.

      I mean he has owned it for about a day. How about an extension of the benefit of the doubt.

      Or judging the gentleman by his actions, which at this point have been exactly nothing?

      • He doesn’t own it yet, he still hasn’t paid for it or got the keys.

        Regulatory approval and Shareholder approval will be a long drawn out process with many legal challenges.

    • Twitter is actually a mirror; it runs on algorithms designed to show you things that are like you, and that you are likely to engage with. So yes, it can be a bit of an echo chamber unless you seek out a range of opinions, but if you see a shit-hole, that’s on you.

      My feed is full of poets, Bioware and Star Wars fans and politically savvy women from all over the globe.

        • Eh, YMMV.

          I’ve learned heaps, and met a bunch of lovely people. Our discussions are lively and interesting, and I mute anyone who gets abusive, because it amuses me to think of them spewing their bile and no one listening to them.

          I follow a bunch of news outlets, but I get my news from the ABC and Graun, most days. I go to Twitter for commentary but more for discussion with like-minded people. If that’s an echo-chamber, then so are most public fora.

          • “for discussion with like-minded people”

            *most* public fora/forums allow the free expression and exchange of differing opinions and ideas. That was the literal point of them.

            If one side is constantly being blocked or censored from expressing an opinion (notice how I say opinion, and not “advocating for harm against”) by the other side, then it is no longer a public fora/forum, and is instead an echo chamber.

            TMYK

          • Wow, so interesting. I didn’t ask for your Twitter usage habits, I was making a point that Twitter is full (more or less) of people seeking confirmation bias and Twitter’s algorithm feeds into that (which differentiates it from non algorithm driven forums) , making it worse. “Oh you’re a racist redneck political extremist? Let me suggest some more people just like you to connect with.” These people start to believe that their opinions MUST be the only correct ones because everyone they interact with shares the same views.

            It’s a platform that’s sometimes useful, but has some massive social problems.

  • Musk is just what happens when an internet troll has billions of dollars to move around.

    But despite all he or anyone else claims, he’s still business and/or money oriented. I really can’t see him actually doing a great deal to alter how it typically runs, because if it wasn’t already doing something right financially, he’d probably have never bought it.

    The reason some people are acting like the sky is falling is that he claims he’s not about banning anyone and everyone just because they might say something that you disagree with… And trying to cancel people simply because they didn’t have the ‘correct’ opinion has become a sport for far too many, so now they’re losing it thinking evil ol’ Musk is coming for them.

  • Meanwhile, Musk is using his Telsa stock to guarantee the loan… in response Telsa stock took a massive nosedive. This is going to be a bumpy mess.

    • This happens with any company that guarantees a loan against their stock options. Completely normal. Will usually correct itself within a week or so.

  • Dear Journalists and devs who don’t like the public aspect of Twitter (AKA i don’t want people disagreeing with my tweets)

    If you don’t like the public aspect of twitter you have two options:

    A: Go private
    B: Delete your account

    If you post publicly people can and will reply. People disagreeing with you on Twitter is NOT harassment. Grow up

  • You’ve heard of the irresistable force meeting the unmovable object.

    Now, this summer, prepare yourself for cancel culture vs the uncancelable.

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