AAA-Indie Gamedevs “100 Rabbits”: A Critique

RND/ To consider a critique of gamedevs “100 rabbits”:

Calculating the truer costs of the ‘AAA Indie’ gamedev lifestyle, aka ‘my life as an Instagram filter’ while contextualizing its hip colonial tourist fantasies.

Why do you think that videogame adventurers always need to tour the world’s hottest locations to prevent the end of days?
– Critical Distance

Where did you grow up?
The South Pacific.
I’m sorry, where?
The South Pacific islands; Tuamoto Archipelago – French Polynesia, Tahiti, Papeete
– (from) Cypher movie, 2002

To imagine a contextual critique for the (frankly unlikely sounding) Devine Lu Linvega and Rekka Bell – names bringing to mind people called ‘Clay’ in bad 80s novels. On the frozen minimalist hedonism of multimedia game development studio 100 rabbits:


Notes and observations based around their artificial feeling, skillfully advertised and precisely manufactured Patreon video – which might otherwise seem perfectly ordinary and everyday – perfectly naturalized ie. made somehow natural or effortlessly self contained – within the dead beating heart of global capital, that is.

Right off the bat, watch as precisely 100 rabbits quick march into line with military precision forming a single, hyper efficient modular unit, logo / logos.

Ominous background music then begins – a warning, lightly infused with unconscious apocalyptic dread, as though gloom, death and foul decay are always the unconscious (background) fellow travellers on this strange developmental journey.

Queue the image of a young, pale skinned couple in ‘too cool for school’ techno-cyber nugoth / Soviet Realism statue mode – somehow perfectly po faced poseurs, survivors from some lightly failed andor wilfully obscure 90s electronica band.

A soft sensual voice in the digital darkness whispers “26 days until we leave – until we can truly begin.”

– Ah, the humble myth of ‘honest’, fresh new beginnings, apparently free of context cultural history or politics.

Yet what precisely brought you there to your holy ‘alpha moment’, clean and innocent – precisely on whose dusty, tired shoulders does one too often arrive like queens and princes – without acknowledgement.

We are independent designers

– Independent of andor from what, exactly? What about being inter-dependent non designers?

Together we made Oquonie, a video game about impossible spaces – about being lost

– Interestinglyh, Oquonie is described as an IOS puzzle play for Ipad and Iphone where bizarroid characters speak an obscure language – though 100 rabbits were describing themselves.

To consider the ‘impossible space’ 100 rabbits smoothly semi-unknowingly inhabits as that of global capital – a dark space of privilege, cold calculation and oh so well designed computer user interfaces. Featuring violently clean postmodern typefaces – a space that from the outset is precisely designed and socio synthetically constructed for one’s own needs – for synthetically intelligent paperclip maximization.

Our game is about being lost, making sense of the world

– It’s virtually impossible to be lost in today’s hyper wired universe of digital information; the network of global capital has now expanded everywhere and is increasingly able to instantly find and locate – ie. contextualize anyone on its vast data control grid. Or perhaps it could be more about feeling lost to the realities of the real world – just making nonsense of actual facts – another mere convenient escape into one’s own tiny, insular universe of neat, nutrasweet moments carved up into easily traded, gameified micro Fun™ units.

We made it while travelling. We started it while we lived in Japan and it was finished during a trip to Thailand

– The rapidly dying Earth as one’s private global entrepreneurial playground – without end or limits. It must be hard – I hear those long air conditioned trips with little niblets and in flight video can be arduous.

Then follows a shot of beautiful, young, thin woman in a clean, spacious, well lit and ventilated room, surrounded by high end technology – probably built by wage slaves in some awful Asian sweatshop.

I guess I could say that Oquonie was reflection of ourselves at the time. Lost in translation

– To consider the movie “Lost In Translation” a deeply racist vanity project. Watch as some fiscally solvent, blank eyed city girl pirouettes on a cushion of perfumed air through a dystopian megacity of expensively cheap neon dreams – the dim, ever so slightly bored look on her pink cheeked face precisely mirroring the carefully constructed ‘lite’ and breezy ironic detachment with which the apocalyptic West treats other people’s culture – as a mere slick super surface – a hyperreality coating to be casually tossed over one’s own private ideological skeletons.

Going to new places kept us creative

– To quote fellow researcher Slavoj Zizek:

Previously, it was possible to talk about periods of “equilibrium,” during which the processes of production and reproduction, spun peacefully, and periods in which the contradiction between the forces and the relationships worsened, whereas contradiction, the forces/relationships discord, is part of the very “concept” of capitalism itself (in the form of the contradiction between the social mode of production and the individual mode, deprived of appropriation). It is this very contradiction that forces capitalism into a state of permanent expansive growth, incessant development of its own conditions of production. This is quite unlike earlier modes of production in which (re)production — in its “normal” state — took the form of a circular movement.
If this is the case, then the evolutionary reading of capital as its own limit is no longer sufficient. It is never the case that at a certain point the framework of relationships of production block the further development of productive forces; on the contrary, it is this immanent limit itself, this “internal contradiction,” that pushes the perpetual development of capitalism ever onwards. The “normal” state of capitalism is the perpetual revolutionization of its conditions of existence. From the very outset it is rotten, marked by contradiction, distortion, immanent disequilibrium, and it is for this very reason that it changes incessantly, that it never stops developing.

– Zizek, The Most Sublime Hysteric

We decided then that this was the kind of life we wanted for ourelves

– That one is already able to choose one’s lifestyle seems very ‘lucky’ – yet what about everyone else? Where does that leave them? Where do they factor into this perfect life equation?

We want to feel lost again

– In which one is reminded of ancient Chinese emperors who burn all ancient texts and cultures that went before them. In their illusion, history really does starts with them. Yet perhaps one is already lost in deep shit – but just doesn’t care to fully realize it.

That is to say, we enjoy the unacknowledged privileged feeling of having the fiscal choice to engage in creative expression apparently outside dominant modes of mainstream cultural production, but rather than ‘outside’ it such, our seeming independence is our very dominant mode of our existence. Just like Apple HJypercorp used to say, “Think Different” – yeah, but note all such alleged thinking lies clearly within the boundaries of your tax free hypercorporate territory. That’s the very definition of main stream – where most of the shit and garbage floats.

100 rabbits renamed their boat Pino (a stunningly aggravating character, permanently suffering from inbuilt brain damaged cuteness) from pseudo-philosophical anime Ergo Proxy.

In a later Patreon video, 100 Rabbits and a bunch of the beach bronzed and beautiful re-christen a boat with beer; laughably however Rekka is quick to point out that some fancy hipster craft beer will be used for the ceremony. But of course it will, dahling – after all, such distinctions separate the truly in from the out crowds.

– Next a series of images taken with a nice camera then drift past, all looking as though they’ve been given a luxurious Instagram treatment.

There’s nothing more foreign to us than a boat in the open ocean

To consider what kind of enthnocentric psycho-projections are busy at work here. What unquestioned cultural values are needed to maintain perfectly plastic senses of some infinitely exotic, free floating ambient ‘otherness’ – what forms of concrete (in the inverted Hegelian sense) colonial expansionism are actually at work and play on these dirty global data waters of info Capitalism?

Exactly what toxic myths float such tourist dreams of ‘foreignness’ – what ‘big other’ which are ultimately from outset only ever mere reconfirmations of the epic, heroic status of one’s self – one’s own desperate, clawing techno culture?

We take off into the cosmos ready for anything – solitude, hardship, exhaustion, death. We are proud of ourselves, but when we think about it, our enthusiasm’s a sham. We don’t want other worlds – we want mirrors
– Scientist Gibarian, Solaris (Steven Soderbergh, 2002)

We want fewer things in our life

– Yeah, but the ‘right things’, right? As though being financially independent means independence from finance – from the holy global shopping imperative. In which such obsessive-compulsive Spartanism exposes the need to escape to some mythical private Brotopia – the construction of a monument to digital hyper quantified self™

We spend time in cafes

– Looking East in cool private abstracted reverie while sipping coffee made by brown skinned people in poverty.

It’s a big move for us – a really big step into the unknown

– But it’s precisely known – eminently knowable and understandable. Sure there are always risks involved in such capital adventures in indie venture capital – but these somehow seem minimal and generally laughable.

Thank you for keeping us afloat – literally

Literally this is the last thing said for almost every 100 rabbits video; consider how it signifies keeping the dream alive – the dream perhaps being an insular escapist illusion of indie-pendence, totally dependent on a global system of exploitative trade based on asymmetric power relations and slick, endlessly psychologically self justifying elite public relations. Ding ding! Cazually all aboard the virtual love boat to private entitled indie fantasy – in which it’s a minor miracle the boat doesn’t sink from the sheer unacknowledged (/unconscious) weight of pretend-scious private fantasy aka the hard labour and suffering of other human beings actually needed to keep such dreams alive. (This is somehow mirrored by little cartoons of happy couple at end of each Patreon video – conveniently abstracted notions of innocence.)

Update Patch One: Free Lives Studio

A similar video exists on youtube from Free Lives Studio, responsible for ‘Broforce’ *rolls eyes* in which director jock Evan Greenwood appears to effortlessly Onion parody combine every ‘AAA Indie’ development rock star asshole cliche:

Thanks, Free Lives; anyone who honestly states video game development is hard now has bile inducing corporate videos like these to contend with – what a fucking shower of tossers.

Update Patch Two

In which n seems 100 rabbits are now official darlings of Patreon – the unacceptably all too acceptable face of modern indie capitalism.

From the 100 Rabbits Patreon video:

We’re just there – in our own little world – alone on planet Pino

– It felt like watching a movie

Both of us stood there thinking – how is any of is real – is this really our lives now?

When finding that delicately floating ‘work / life’ balance often means hard labour – for some invisible someone else.

Ghost hands cling desperately at the helm

In an era defined by increasingly morally and ethically flexible economies and labour forms, digital nomads represent perhaps the ultimate manifestation of Capitalism. These location independent freelancers working from laptops on gigs ranging from web development, computer programming to life coaching and video game lifestyle blogging have emerged out of the millennial convergence of wireless technologies, flowing transnational capital and massive global inequality.

They travel predominantly between countries with a low cost of living, following the networked global slipstream which is at once stable and ephemeral – all that is solid rapidly melting into bitcoins, to paraphrase Marx (as in Groucho.)

The once quirky trend enabled by the sharing economy, Digital Nomads have grown into bona fide international subculture of true assholes. An ever growing list of startups exist to cater to them; tailor made visas cropping up in nomad friendly countries with no shortage of lifestyle advice, neat accessories online aimed at them and their ilk.

But as a community of internet enabled supra-national travellers has grown, a myth has strengthened around them – the idea that all it takes to eschew citizenship to a 9 to 5 brand of hypercorporate Capitalism is an internet connection and a mildly adventurous attitude.

Skype calls in cafes without using headphones, talking loudly over locals about ‘crushing it’ and ‘killing it’. Young entitled and arrogant crossfitters meet digital bromads. In which the digital nomad life means flexibility and freedom for those carving out a career of ever shifting postmodern dislocations. Web developers, copy editors, online marketers or graphic designers can now apparently leave behind the nine to five grind to travel the world, designer laptop in hand to fund their private psychic adventures.

However, though such lifestyle tells itself and others that it’s open to all, the single white male caricature has flourished – the popped collars of college bros with the pathetic braggadocio of 80s style stock traders. One may easily picture the digital bromad – just add a Macbook, infinity pool, mojito and expensive flipflops.

Bromad’s particular brand of unearned confidence and hedonism is however simply the toxicity of unchecked masculinity casually invading some distant ‘exotic’ locale.

“Bromad” describes someone designed primarily to make quick money live in cheap places that makes others feel uncomfortable or unwelcome with their utter lack of respect for women or the nuances of local cultures. They may often do push ups in public.

With the rise of the digital nomad comes awareness of shades of the gentrification and colonialism it entails. Contrary to any expectations set by Instagram’s Digital Nomad hashtags, ‘freedom’ and ‘flexibility’ do not automatically mean endless, stress free vacation days.

It can mean tight budgeting, difficulties adjusting to local culture, constant stressful efforts to ensure one’s next contract is lined up – though bromads are of course able to benefit from key systemic privileges already firmly in place.

Western countries with attractive passports and good visa options are more likely to turn out digital nomads – indeed male dominated tech digital industries mean young men are more likely to have established enough career contact networks to risk it all on one way tickets to Thailand – business class of course.

If the nomad life does not work out, the upper middle class fallback of Mom and Dad’s account takes away the worst of risk.

Of course, even being labelled a ‘Digital Nomad’ makes one squirm, since the term conjures images of straight pink skinned male millennials, usually either developers, programmers or other virtual product hucksters selling something the world doesn’t need (themselves) while preying on others. These of course are the loudest of digital nomads, ones who have crafted the public image of their lifestyle.

People worldwide have been repeatedly subjected to conversations in public places between Bromads, about how much they are ‘crushing it’ – how many local women they took home this week, how little money they are spending opposed to how much they are making. It’s abhorrent. The Hipster’s dream, where the perfect sunset on another day of successful creative capitalism is shared with friends and a cold craft beer.

100 Rabbits: The Hipster’s Dream
  • Nomadism – as real virtual mobility
  • Interfaces – as mobile devices
  • Desert Of Realness – as the internet
  • Oases – as third -world places cafes public libraries free or cheap wi fi zones
  • Virtual fires – as forums meetings in third places
  • Originally these codes of digital nomadism were artificial or conventional but gradually have become natural or behavioral – all connected with the intellectual cultural mentality of a global community of oh so faintly detached / smug wankers

Example Reference Links


// how to play big science