Six Years Later

Did you know I was 21-years-old when I started Indie Gamer Chick on July 1, 2011? It’s true. I turned 22 ten days later, but technically I still made it in under the wire. I really didn’t think that six-years-later and I would be here, typing this annual tear-jerker of mine.

None of us are the same as we were when we were 21. I certainly ain’t. People wonder why I don’t write reviews very often these days. After all, I was “the girl who saved XBLIG” using sometimes scathing, and sometimes positive in a still scathing kind of way reviews. I’m probably still to this day the person most associated with Xbox Live Indie Games. I always felt I was miscast in that role. That it should have been a developer. And make no mistake: XBLIG produced one hell of a generation of game developers. Guys and gals who lived in the trenches, pouring their hearts and souls into games that would be lucky to sell one-thousand copies at $1 a pop. They were the heroes of the platform. I was someone who consumed their games and shared my opinions on them. Without them, there would be no me. Their lives would have been no better or worse without Indie Gamer Chick. But for Catherine Vice, her entire life is better because she was accepted into a community that she had no business being in.

I know I’ve said this before, but I need to say it again, with tears streaming down my cheeks as I type these words: thank you to the entire XBLIG & XNA community. My life is so much richer for having been welcomed into your world. New XBLIG games no longer are published and their point of sale will close forever in just a couple of months. I am so proud of you all, what you accomplished. I wish more of you had found fame and wealth on the platform. But, there are people today who are millionaires because of what they accomplished on XBLIG, and many more who got their start there that are on the cusp of that level of success. I wish we could come together one last time as a community and toast to their success, because it’s our success too. No development community was ever as united as XBLIG’s. I’ll cherish the memories you all gave me. I hope I did right by you.

I know my aim was sometimes off, and this resulted in hurt feelings. There’s a company called Silver Dollar Games that found a niche in the marketplace making wacky pseudo-games. They were controversial in the XBLIG community because their products seemed to take minimal effort to make, but still got more attention than most XBLIG devs could ever hope for. I had no business calling them out on their business. They did nothing wrong. But I did call them out, and I’m ashamed that I did. People ask me why I don’t take down stuff like the Silver Dollar editorial, stuff I wouldn’t stand-by today. The reason is because I can’t pretend I didn’t do it. I caved into peer-pressure to unfairly call out a group of dreamers who were just trying to make it in the marketplace like anyone else. I regret it deeply to this day, and to Silver Dollar Games, I am genuinely sorry. All I can say in my defense is I’m not the same person I was when I wrote that piece.

I recently started a spin-off site of Indie Gamer Chick: Indie Gamer Team. A place for my friends to mess around with my review format, learn to write reviews without relying on arbitrary scores, and have fun with a fun-but-informative format. And for reviews, my main rule I gave them is “review the game, not the developer.” It’s a lesson I myself had to learn the hard way, by hurting feelings and being too personal when I did my write-ups of not so great games. One of my best friends is Shahed Chowdhuri. He’s actually a big-shot at Microsoft these days, but I first encountered him as a nameless, faceless developer of an XBLIG I didn’t particularly like. While I stand by that opinion (sorry Shahed, it was pretty bad), and there’s never a nice way to say a game sucks (unless you’re IGN, in which case you give it a 7 out of 10), you can be brutally honest without being mean or personal. I did both. This was about four months after I started Indie Gamer Chick, but it was the first time I knew for sure I had genuinely hurt someone with my words.

Shahed taught me a lesson: that there is no such thing as a nameless, faceless developer. There are real human beings behind every game. But, Shahed took my review with good grace and humor. That’s how the vast, vast majority of indie developers handle criticism. After over five-hundred reviews, over half of which were ultimately negative, I can count on a single-hand the amount of developers who I would classify as completely non-receptive to feedback. And I’d still have unused fingers. Unfortunately, “developer takes bad review with good grace” is hardly attention-grabbing. Thus, the public perception of indie developers is that they can’t take criticism. It’s total bullshit stoked by a fraction-of-a-fraction of developers who poison the well. Read my review of Shahed’s Angry Zombie Ninja Cats again. The guy behind that game is now someone whose friendship I treasure. Shahed is an exceptional human being, but his response to my criticism was not unusual at all.

We’re all on the learning curve. Those that aspire to improve on all facets of their life never get off that curve. I’m not the same person or writer I was on July 1, 2011, when I started Indie Gamer Chick. I hope I’m a better person. And if I am, I owe that in large part to the indie game community. You all inspire me to be better at what I do. Not just as Indie Gamer Chick, but as Catherine Vice. I actually didn’t have a lot of friends when I started IGC. If the barometer of your growth as a person is the friendships you grow from the ground up, then I’ve done pretty good over the six years. William, Nelson, Elijah, James, Becky, Jon, Sam, a strangely bizarre amount of guys named Marc/Mark, Jesse, Jim, Shahed, Nate, Tim, Kris, Allen, Dave, Cyril, Kyle, Jeff, Dave, Dan, George, Steven, Laura, Jerry, PSP, David, a different guy named David, Rose (I miss you so much), Matthew, Ed, Jason, Bob, a few guys named Brian that aren’t my Brian, Rami, Gary, Ian, Brooks, Mike, Shaun, Graham, Simmer, Will, Brad, Carolyn, Bill, Jean, Ryan, Jourdan, Amanda, Nathan, and even a guy named Thor (1990 Nintendo World Champion, no joke!) and so many more that if I keep going this will look like one of those “Baby Names” books. I went from no friends to that many friends and more. The little girl who started this blog on July 1, 2011 never in her wildest dreams could have imagined that. They all met a blogger who called herself Indie Gamer Chick. But they all became friends with a girl named Cathy, who is grateful and humbled to tears. I love you all.

And of course, my Brian. You inspire me, and you challenge me, and I love you unconditionally. Thank you for convincing me to do this Indie Gamer Chick thing, and to stick with it, and to be my editor for all this time.

I know I haven’t been updating a lot recently. I’m sure some people think I’m close to being done. But I’m not done. Not even close. I’m not the same person I was when started Indie Gamer Chick. But I am Indie Gamer Chick. For keeps.

-Catherine Vice
June 30, 2017

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About Indie Gamer Chick
The most read Xbox Live Indie Game critic in the world.

2 Responses to Six Years Later

  1. jbevan70 says:

    Wonderful piece, Cathy. Happy 6th anniversary. Here’s to many more.

  2. J. Boykin says:

    Happy 6th, and thanks for setting a great example. Looking forward to seeing the next year.

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