Support the Things You Love

by Jack

UPDATE: The information in this article has deprecated.

Cult of Personality: Twitter

Warning! The following post contains gratuitous and shameless self-promotion!

Follow Button

This post is all about how we can help each other across social networks. I’ve long-considered how best to approach this topic, and I think now with several games in the wild and a book on the market it’s time we got down to brass tacks and squared a few things away with each other.

If you’ve already done things like Follow Dark Acre on Twitter, Like Dark Acre on Facebook, and given rounds of thumb’s ups to the various video postings as well as subscribed to the YouTube channel, you know everything there is to know about what I’m going to say, so go on and enjoy the rest of your surf, maybe give my recent Ludum Dare 48 entry a go.

It’s a well established fact that, much like any medium, the Internet has a lot more consumers than it does providers. Certainly, it may seem like there’s endless reams of kitten videos, cooking blogs, and Facebook wall photos, but when comparing the creators of that content to those who are hungrily consuming it a rather large disparity emerges.

With Twitter, the key to success is building up a meaningful community of people around a given idea. In many cases the provider-consumer relationship is enough, like say a really famous comedian. You’re only Following them to get a chuckle while standing in line somewhere. In other cases, like mine, I’m trying to set up a channel where I can talk to other game developers and game players and increase our collective knowledge base.

Since I’m spending most of my time creating content, I have only narrow wedges of time in which to consume it, and so I have a very focused use of Twitter. I have curated lists of users that regularly update with meaningful links or content of their own, such as Mike Acton (probably my #1 Follow on Twitter) and other people who are pursuing dreams similar to mine, like the indie developer Quickfingerz.

If you’re someone who’s creating content for games, an independent game developer, artist, musician, journalist, or all-around games enthusiast, I ask you to please Follow me and other people like me on Twitter. If you’re regularly providing interesting content I’ll be sure to Follow you back and create that virtuous circle of social networking.

If you’re already Following me, and I’m not Following you back, it might be for a couple of reasons:

  • You post political or religious-centric content. Unfortunately my world-view doesn’t include subscribing to these ideologies because I find them a drag and wish we could somehow function as a society without having to evangelize and prosthelytize our moral beliefs.
  • You regularly post negative or overtly critical Tweets. I have enough negativity in my own heart without having to absorb yours, thank you.
  • You spam often about inane things like what you had for dinner or what’s going on in the coffee shop you’re hanging out at. Again, that’s just not for me.

If you’re Following me, and you don’t do any of the above things then I may have simply missed a proper Follow-back. I do regularly use tools like Your Tweeter Karma to curate my Follows, so I’ve probably given you a fair shake but if you feel that I haven’t, please contact me and let me know.

iTube, YouTube, We All Tube

Massive YouTube Subscribe Button

Most of the Internet audience is a passive one, as well. It is extremely easy to track the passivity, all you have to do is take a look at a top video on YouTube and compare the number of comments and ratings to the number of views and very quickly it’s apparent that people are watching, but not responding in a meaningful fashion.

For the famous and the virus-driven content this is a minor issue. Once certain thresholds of views are passed, any feedback from the audience becomes a white noise of either other users trying to promote in the comments, or sarcastic and humorous commentators trying to push their funny jibes into the Top Comments section.

But for struggling artists and developers it becomes very difficult to extend the reach of their videos without the support of the audience. Views are becoming easier and easier to get, with embedding appearing everywhere across linked networks like Facebook and Twitter and blogs, but the ‘Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down’ and comments are dwindling as few embeds allow the users access to those native YouTube functions.

YouTube tool bar

The more ‘Likes’ a video has, the greater the chance that it will rise to the top of a given search. Of course the onus is really on the provider to make a great video, properly tag it, and promote it, but in the end the user has the real power to shape its success.

How can you help Dark Acre? I try to post video content with some regularity whenever I have something that needs showing, like new game development in motion, game release trailers, or time-lapses of game jams. There’s a tradition of weekly development video posts here, too. If you come across them, I’d ask that you take that half-second to click through to YouTube and bang on the ‘Like’ or ‘Dislike’ button. If you don’t like something for any reason, please drop a quick comment to let me know how I could make it better. I’d love your feedback, and other viewers could benefit as well.

Also, to keep up with the videos you could subscribe to the channel itself, opting in to e-mail notifications of new uploads. Much like how my Twitter expands with Follows, I’ll be sure to check out your content if you have a channel and subscribe to it as well, and I don’t have anything against ‘Friending’ users to help build the social network up there too. Using the subscribe system is the only way I personally get updates to the phenomenal ‘Matt Chat‘, so it does have its uses!

Face(book) Time

While I may apply the monkey-sphere principle to my personal Facebook page, I have no such limitations or reservations to the Dark Acre Facebook page.

Giant Facebook Like button

There’s no real harm in Liking a Page on Facebook, and it’s an easy way to get updates if the Page provider is regularly updating with quality content. It’s also a direct community portal, bringing people into a larger conversation space than Twitter. Each page can act as a mini forum for enthusiasts of the provider’s work.

I’m currently still in the process of working out how to really start generating some good conversation on the Dark Acre page, but for the time being I’m content with dispersing the weekly update and any newsworthy items there.

The amount of Likes raises the page’s profile and naturally spreads the visibility of Dark Acre, so if you are on Facebook and you do like the things I’m doing, could you please help me out with a Like?

The Blog, Or How You Create Your Own Newspaper

I would really love to have my blog as a regular column in your newsreader. Not using a newsreader? Many people are, particularly those with iDevices.

I wrote up an article on using RSS, so if you’re not on the bandwagon there’s information there and elsewhere.

Suffice it to say, there’s a way to compile all of your needed sources of information on the internet into an easy-to-read format that gets delivered to you as the news happens.

I’m working hard to make this page as clear and accessible for all, and the primary dispensary of all things Dark Acre. If you think the information here is worth reading, and use RSS, I’d ask you kindly to please subscribe to Dark Acre using your favorite reader.

Last word on the blog for now is that I would encourage you to add your words to the discussion. I know it’s hard and time-consuming to drop comments on articles, I find myself reaching for the comment button often and then thinking the better of it. But if you do have something to say about how I’m doing, just want to say hello, or offer any suggestions and criticisms, I want you to know I’m completely open to them either publicly or privately.

In Closing

A quick ‘too long, didn’t read’ summation. I’m asking anyone who wants to provide free support to my efforts as an independent game developer to:

All of the above is totally free to you and on a long enough time-line will help Dark Acre get the exposure it needs to really grow. In this modern digital economy the only currency grassroots indies have is their social network, coupled with the awesome work they’re doing. If you’re out there doing great work and think it needs to be known, expand that network!

Thanks as always for reading, and I hope to talk with you soon.

*subject to the caveats listed in the Follow section above