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Jacob Grimes DIY Draft

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 11 months ago

Four friends begin setting up their instruments inside the basement of a new acquaintance they met through a message board. In about an hour they will be drenched in sweat, pouring their hearts out to twenty complete strangers. All they ask for return is to be heard and a floor to sleep on that night. Across town a computer science major is working endlessly through the night coding a computer game he has been creating since the beginning of his collegiate career. Within a few months it will be complete and circulating for free on the Internet. What do these two groups have in common? They both apply the DIY attitude to their every day lives.


DIY or do it yourself is the art of creating or fixing an object without the aid of paid professionals. Whether you are fixing the broken latch on your kitchen cabinet, or self-publishing a magazine, the DIY aesthetic can be applied to any activity. This phrase came into fruition during the 1950’s when homeowners began repairing broken objects themselves. During the 1970’s the expression began to take on a whole new meaning.


Bands such as Black Flag, Hüsker Dü, The Minutemen, and Minor Threat began applying ideals found in the DIY culture to their music. Unlike musicians on major labels, these artists did not have the financial backing of a corporation. In order to reach their audiences they had to do everything for themselves. This included recording and manufacturing their own albums, booking tours, and producing their own merchandise. While this took a toll on them physically and financially, with many of the artists living in poverty, they were able to live a sort of freedom most people can only dream of having.


During this time home computers began to grow in popularity, and with this came programmers. Without an established videogame industry, programmers were able to create and distribute their own games however they liked. Much like tape trading, games were passed along from one person to the next. As videogames began to increase in popularity, so did the DIY community. As more games were being independently created, a new form of distribution was needed, the most popular form being freeware. Created by Andrew Fluegelman, freeware is software that is available for an unlimited time at no cost to the user. By uploading freeware to the Internet, developers were able to reach a wide variety of gamers thought unimaginable.


As the DIY community grows older, the values still stay the same, especially in music. Musicians continue to travel the county in their beat up vans, asking for nothing more but a plate of food and a place to rest. Most of these artists work second jobs in order to pay rent and provide for their family, but still make the sacrifice for self-expression. A strong advocate of the DIY music community is Chris Clavin, owner of Plan-It-X records, whose slogan is “if it ain’t cheap, it ain’t punk.” DIY is much more to Clavin then providing LPs and CDs for modest prices, it is a mind set. To him DIY means not being afraid to take chances and treating others with the respect. It is inviting others into your home and cooking them food and having the same done to you.


Independent gaming continues to evolve and adapt new techniques and systems, most notably the open source movement. Open source games are any programs whose source code is available to edit and build upon. This allows multiple participants to work on a project depending on how much interest it generates within the gaming community. The open source game movement has led gaming communities to establish their own development studios, such as Tales of Games Studios, who released the internet sensation, Tales of Game's Presents Chef Boyardee's Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden, Chapter 1 of the Hoopz Barkley SaGa. These communities are merely message boards in which developers post game ideas, codes, and demos, in which other members provide constructive criticism.


Some independent developers have decided to take their programming abilities and turn them into a means to make a living. These developers are releasing their games under the backing of corporations in order to reach an even larger audience. The Microsoft Corporation has began providing independently developed games through their Xbox Arcade, with its biggest success being the award winning Braid, created by Jonathan Blow. Blow is an independent programmer, designer, and advocate of videogames as an “innovative, ethical, and personal art.” He cites World of Warcraft as an unethical game that exploits players by using a simple “rewards-for-suffering scheme.” Blow can be seen as a champion for independent gaming, but is he just as guilty as some of the corporate developers? Yes and no. Sure Blow can be considered a “sellout,” someone who literally sold his soul to the devil known as Microsoft, but is this really such a bad thing? His unique and innovative game Braid has sold over 50,000 copies, which has allowed him to start work on his next game. Blow is single handedly responsible for ushering in a new era of mass-market games, using innovation and art as a basis for progress.

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