Gold and Blood: Chromacon 2017

April, 2017

Chromacon is pretty special.

It was my first time attending. I've been working on a prototype platform game, (tentatively titled 'ZipSquid') for about 3 months, and I was persuaded to show it off by Allan Xia, the multi-talented organiser of Chromacon, and a good mate.

As with most game developers I know, I certainly prefer the chill bubble of the studio as opposed to the hustle of promotion. I'm only able to work on this prototype in the first place thanks to the loving support of my partner, Edith. I certainly don't have extravagant plans for promotion, but I know that I better have something meaningful in place before releasing it. I also know about blowing dev out of proportion, so, as opposed to my usual abstract-y stuff - I'm sticking with a known genre, and hoping as it will inevitably morph as it passes through my filter. This is also an exercise in releasing a commercial game, as I've never done that before.

All the time I'm concerned that this is not being brave enough as a designer, and that my unreasonable dream of staying afloat doing this seems more unreasonable as I get older. This isn't even considering that the means of selling a product like this might be getting harder as the storefronts are duplicitous, and discoverability means writing your own press.

Those platforms aren't getting any easier, that's for sure.

Chromacon's vision is to build sustainability for artists, and I think this event does a damn fine job of doing it. Sustainability's maintenance means cashflow and design input - and for me at Chromacon, these manifested in a coupled way through conversation.

If I had to -very quickly- encapsulate a series of conversations I had at Chroma, they would be titled something like:

  • The Obscuritory, Osamu Sato, and New Zealand's isolation.
  • Side ways: I just love platformers, ya know?
  • Mystery as a trap, and erasing your online presence.
  • Authorial Motivation.
  • With what do you make and what do you make it with.
  • Children and Choice.
  • Fish, Memory, Douglas Adams, and the 1%.
  • Risky Role Playing, and the inverted structural hierarchy of creative projects.

I'm probably not doing all of those justice, but for someone like me, and probably a lot of artists working in relative isolation, that shit is gold, and life blood. That is, some of that information can lead to make smarter financial decisions in order to maintain financial sustainability, and combined with the invigorated flow of meaning can lead to renewed vision. Both are necessary, and if too separated, can lead to "Business Stream" vs "Art Stream" talks- drying out both of them.

The moment where I saw Chromacon manifest is when I saw Allan bringing round food for the 'fairly-tired' artists and devs on the second day. There's a number of reasons as to why this event is great, and that performed, sustainable, community ethos is sure as hell one of them. Glad I could take part.

Phil James