I am writing this letter – and making it public – because it’s the only way I know to make you stop, think, and appreciate things.
You need to change both your outlook and how you run The Indie Game Magazine.
When I joined IGM back in the very tail-end of last November, I had no idea initially what to expect. Actually, that’s not quite true. I knew what I hoped to expect: a professional, well-organized site with a clear strategy and high ethical standards.
Now, your previous decisions – and what led to the controversy that you encountered with IndieStatik – are by the by. I wasn’t involved in that and I started after all of that came to light. For the record, I understand and appreciate how frustrating and difficult it can be trying to burn the candle at both ends just to get some income. But I’m sorry Newt, you were in the wrong with that and you deserved what you got. I know you think you were treated unfairly, but you really did bring it on yourself.
Here’s the issue Newt – you don’t know when to let go. You don’t know when to step back, admit that you might be wrong or that other people may have a better idea of how to do things than you. IGM is your baby, and that’s cool; we all want to protect our own things, after all. That’s only human.
But there is a difference between being protective and being smothering.
Unfortunately, you have smothered IGM to within an inch of its life. You have not only smothered the site with sudden ideas that get enacted upon in a piecemeal manner before being thought through, but you have smothered your staff and alienated many of them through being, for want of a better phrase, a total control freak.
When Chris Adkins was handed the reins of IGM last year and a statement was issued declaring that you were no longer involved, then that is where things should have stayed. At the time, I know that the statement was genuine and nothing duplicitous was going on.
I also know that Chris Adkins is a man of extreme integrity, a man who I have come to respect and a man that I have never once heard a single bad word said against. That’s pretty damn rare in this business.
Adkins took the reins and did a damn good job, and things were starting to get back on track. He looked after his writers: he was always considerate, friendly and informative and was basically one of the best damn editors I could ever hope to work with. Under Adkins’ leadership, IGM had a real chance of getting back on its feet and sorting out its problems.
But you just couldn’t stay away, could you?
Here’s how I see what happened next – and this my own personal view; I’m not claiming to speak for others.
When Adkins needed to take a leave of absence you decided it was the perfect time to muscle back in. I think you did that for the right reasons, but your ego got in the way. Before long you were enacting policies which contradicted each other. You were telling writers where they can and can’t work. You were trying to control what they could talk about – not just in their articles, but in their own private conversations. You started recording long, rambling voice messages and then getting pissed when no-one replied. You were patronizing, speaking to staff like they were six years old and that you were the font from which all knowledge flows.
Worst of all, you didn’t support the very people you needed to support. You had a whole team full of new recruits and instead of nurturing their talents, you smothered them. A writer without their own voice may as well not be a writer at all. When your new Editor-In-Chief came aboard, you didn’t communicate, you dictated.
You put up a vision statement for the site with absolutely no warning that directly contradicted the vision they had put forth just the previous day in their welcome announcement. You started to redesign the site, piecemeal, to the point where your writers couldn’t even log in to write articles. And you had a load of fantastic new recruits wanting to work for you, but you couldn’t even be bothered to find the time to set them up with staff accounts; and no-one else could do it, because your paranoid nature meant that you weren’t prepared to allow other people to do so much as create an email address for new staff.
And then you started trying to pressure the very people that should have been in control – your Managing Director and your Editor-in-Chief. You bullied them to try and make writers quit; you ranted and raved and had temper tantrums that would be embarrassing to see in a pre-teen, let alone a married man supposedly in control of a professional company.
You don’t own your writers, Chris. I know that pisses you off, but you don’t. Writers will write where they please, and write what they want to. Neither you, I or anyone else has the right to tell someone where they can and cannot work.
Just because a writer doesn’t work exclusively for you does not mean they are fucking you over. It simply means that they are doing what they feel is best for their career. IGM only covers Indie games – but that doesn’t mean that Indie games are all your writers play. Hell, even if Indie games are all they play, that doesn’t mean they’re only allowed to write about them for IGM.
When what you did last year became public, you damaged the integrity of the site. More than that, you damaged the integrity of your staff. By trying to take a more active role now, after an official statement saying you no longer have any day-to-day involvement, you are again damaging people’s integrity.
More than anything else you are making Chris Adkins look like a liar for making that statement in the first place and placing your new staff – who you have only just obtained – in an incredibly awkward position that could compromise their future prospects in the industry. That you’re doing that whilst simultaneously not supporting them but actively undermining them seemingly every chance you get means that I am sorry to say that once again, you have brought this on yourself.
You’ve just sacked – without any notice, warning or reason – your Editor-in-Chief, after giving him a massive rant about how he wasn’t making you money just several weeks after his appointment. You just sacked – again without reason or warning – one of your most active writers, who was on compassionate leave. And after your managing director handed in their notice of resignation – and offered to work a notice period to ease the transition – you again instantly revoked their access, deleted their email account and removed them from the staff forum.
Do you really think that is any way to treat your staff, or run a professional website? Seriously? Are you really surprised that you have the reputation that you do and that IGM is going down the toilet?
You have lost your Managing Director, your Editor-in-Chief, and a number of your writers in one fell swoop. There is a very simple reason for that Chris: you are frequently unprofessional, unethical, often borderline criminal and almost permanently unsupportive, and many of your tactics continue to be ethically questionable. You’re also incredibly two-faced.
This was not any sort of conspiracy; you just happened to piss off a lot of people in a very short space of time, and it’s not the first time either. You have not learned from last year’s debacle in the slightest.
I am saying this, because I sincerely and truly hope that you are finally able to recognize your mistakes. Until you do that, you are doomed to continue repeating them over and over.
I genuinely wish you the best for the future; it is just going to have to be a path you travel alone.
Follow me on twitter: @spamdangled
Talk to me on skype: dale.aatg
Continue Play is an independent games journalism site covering everything from the smallest mobile indie game to the biggest AAA console release. We believe that our readers come first, and we pride ourselves on the fact that we are never led by outside pressure. Feature-led and covering games from the past, present and future, we seek to provide something for everyone, no matter what their gaming tastes.