The EA Louse blog is all the rage these days, and I’m sure anyone who visits this site will have encountered many observations on its content already. I can neither confirm nor deny the author’s assertions, though of course over the years I’ve heard my share of stories about the dark secrets of various game projects. It’s a small industry, after all.
This phenomenon–disgruntled employees venting anonymously for all the world to see–is hardly new or unique. Any time an MMO or its developer hasn’t lived up to expectations, someone on the inside has leaked “the real story.” You can easily find similar posts by former employees of SOE, Sigil, Cryptic, Origin, and many other dev houses. And of course the fans and watchers of the industry pounce upon these posts and eagerly debate their merits, often with a hearty dose of “I told you so.”
The thing is, while there’s a certain amount of irresistible schadenfreude to be gleaned from these tales, one must keep in mind that they’re often written from a finite perspective. The average employee at a game development house is usually no more privy to the reasons behind the high-level decisions being made than employees in any other industry. There is no shortage of rumors and speculation–some more rooted in facts than others–but often enough bits of truth make their way into the mix to seem plausible and even likely.
Assuming that EA Louse believes everything he wrote to be the truth (which is a mighty big assumption to make, but let’s do so for the sake of argument), that does not mean that everything he wrote is factual. Another person on the same team may agree with some points and disagree with others; that doesn’t mean this person would be a lair, it just means that their experience and knowledge led them to a different perspective on what the truth is.
Again, I write this post neither to agree nor disagree with EA Louse’s post. Rather, I write to point out that everyone who posts on the Internet–me, you, EA Louse, David Jaffe, Perez Hilton, and any other goofball with a blog–does so from a certain perspective and with some kind of motivation or agenda. We mustn’t take for granted that truth is an absolute, even if it fills us with delight to believe so (there’s that old schadenfreude thing again). This is why honest post mortems are so difficult to come by; many of those involved are busy either covering their asses or looking to blame others for mistakes they themselves could have helped to avoid had they put the same degree of passion into fixing problems that they did complaining about them.
No doubt many other perspectives will be forthcoming in the days ahead (some have already been expressed in the copious comments section of the EA Louse blog), but no matter what is said, the objective facts of the situation will probably never be known to the public. Nor should they; even in our gossip-drenched culture, I hope we can collectively realize that it isn’t our right to know the details of what goes on behind a company’s closed doors any more than we’re entitled to know what Brad and Angelina ate for breakfast this morning. The Internet has done funny things to our perspective, to be sure.
That said… yeah, I got a kick out of reading it, too. I’m only human, after all.