I have to confess something to you; two years ago, when I started to interview people for a little project at the university I could not imagine where these succession of meetings, talks and opinion exchanges with so interesting people were leading me.
December 2010 – February 2011. The idea was born.
My first steps were focused on meeting those surrounding me and who I have always appreciated. Above all, I thought that they would have something to tell, to teach me and also to the audience who could see the videos I was recording. As an example, you can see in the following image a compendium of some friends of mine (both Spanish and foreigners), classmates and even teachers who taught me at the University of Alcalá.
As you probably have realized, my knowledge of cameras –illumination, contrast, etc.- were not the best, and you can compare at the interviews on YouTube how this technical aspect has improved notoriously. This was the result of many hours of practice and the advice of people experienced in the audiovisual world, such as Xudit Casas or María Rubio, among others.
Everything started in a very passionate way (it still is, but now it is a bit moderated). I was not much worried about the structure of the information I was collecting: I only focused on collecting the histories of people and their relationship with video games. Points of view that contrasted at a professional level but at the same time met at a personal level (or vice versa), with multitude of curiosities, joys, lessons learned; moments every human experiences. This process of searching to satisfy my own curiosity brought me to meet collaborators who supported me to make this project something more serious; and a team started to grow. There, I started to believe that something beautiful and unique could emerge on this project, as I was not working just for my own, I also was working for those who believed in what I was doing and who were dedicating their time in an altruistic way to make a common illusion become real.
March – December 2011. Presentation of the Project at Spain and Brazil.
Documenting the impact of video games in people’s lives, even at a national level, is not a simple task. We are talking about a task without a definite end, and as far as I am aware, nobody has got involved in something like this before… In such scenario, I decided to create a project that could narrate something I would like someone narrates me. Besides, I found a number of topics that, in my opinion, are interest of a not too small public. That is why I focused on them. On this basis, the four channels of the series were born, focused on Memories, Culture, Education and Video Game Industry. Since then, the intention has been counting with different people, some of them more relevant than the others, but who have some story to tell with a personal point of view, trying that the spectator would not discern easily the barrier between him/her and the interviewed person.
And suddenly, a mysterious video appears on the Internet:
During the first year of the project, Madrid was the first city in which I was working, while trying to create an online community around The Gamer Inside. I coordinated the creation of a serious and professional team, with few people. We started being just three, and then the first trailer came out, with a newly created logo, graphic animations by of Álvaro Redondo and musical accompaniment, by Jonathan Hall. The launch of this little video was the first step to test our ability to coordinate, and I personally think it went pretty well, taking into account that we had only one month of work behind.
Watching this promising start, in late June I did not hesitate to attend the event Gamelab 2011 to publicize the project there and find out what was happening in Catalan lands at an event with many renowned guests. That edition of the event was really amazing to me. I was able to interview really important people from the industry, like Dino Patti or Siobhan Reddy, and also journalists like Dan Pearson from Gamesindustry.biz. I will never forget when I presented the project to Cliff Blezinski, or when I could get close to Molyneux, Kojima and other great figures who were there (I will not forget either that year, when I came across Miguel Bosé accompanying Gonzo to a lecture, a total surprise ). Another big event was when I met Joan Godoy, motion graphics artist from Barcelona, who soon joined the project and even today is still with us, working on the script as well.
After those months of June and July, the rest of the summer was really hectic, travelling to Brazil in August thanks to the project Videojuegos en el Cervantes, of ARSGAMES. It made me discover a new universe, a new vídeo game culture truly enriching, with many differences from the Spanish one, which led me to wonder the extent of the international project on an international level. The result of which was interviewing more than 30 people from Brazil and the start of the Brazilian edition of The Gamer Inside, with its first pilot episode posted late last 2012.
The summer ended with a nice video tribute to the first 150 interviewees published in September (you can see it in the following video). Although it was completed against the clock, I am certainly satisfied with the emotional allure it has.
The next stop awaiting us was GAMEFEST 2011. In only four days, 60,000 spectators attended the festival, something which may give an idea of how important this event was. For us, a small project, targeted to more educational and cultural aspects rather than commercial ones, the support given by GAME was crucial to present our work there, and also to introduce ourselves to more people and to make our name more popular as well. I was gladly surprised when I received a message via Twitter from Iván de Moneo, a journalist from El País (a Spanish newspaper). He said he was interested in writing an article about The Gamer Inside. It was hard to believe, bearing in mind we had only started almost a year ago: we were making something really big. Moreover, we would have loved to present the first material of the series at GAMEFEST, but the lack of financial support and the inability from some collaborators to devote more time to the project forced us to delay it in the early 2012. It seemed it was not the best moment to launch an initiative that was not going to return a profit; even worse, in a field with very high production costs and a slow return as the audiovisual field is. Those were some of the most difficult months. To fill that gap, and while we were working on the pilots (concept, script etc.), we produced a series of short videos in which GAMEFEST 2011 visitors told us the first memory of their first contact with a video game. The roles of Julián López and José Luis (Wi), at work editing and motion graphics professional level, was of paramount importance.
At that time, we were close to the end of our first year and I could see how I was getting more interviews than I could have ever imagined, even though the life expectancy of the project was not encouraging at all, especially taking into account the current crisis we are living. Very interesting people with their intriguing stories opened the doors of their homes or places of work, for me. I began to realize that the mixture of anonymous interviewees and more well-known people could increase the value of the final work. On the other hand, the hours of footage was gradually growing, something which was good and dangerous at the same time (due to the complexity of the developed script).
Late 2011 – Mid 2012. Production of pilot episodes and fund raising.
Shaken and full of tasks to be done at all levels: that’s how 2011 ended. We had no chance but to launch more new material, since all the promotion and interviews the series was getting (more than welcome, by the way), in contrast with the inability to produce more quality material than expected, left me with a quite unpleasant sense of frustration. December and January were far more intense because we had ahead countless hours spent on tasks script, editing, team coordination … I remember how, day after day, I kept doing anything else. It was like a 2-month birth in which you do not want to miss any detail of the whole process. My schedule started the moment I woke up until the wee hours of the morning, stopping only to eat and go to the bathroom. The rest of the time I was working and attending to meetings with various partners, including people living in very different time zones (China and Uruguay, for instance). At that point we were lucky to find Inma Barrios, who had worked for organizations like TED or Mozilla Hispano; she was on the ball making the translation of the four pilots with impeccable professionalism. I was also lucky to meet Raffa Santoro, a radio professional in Montevideo, Uruguay, and a video game musician as well, who complemented perfectly to the music of Jonathan, conducting pilots related to education and culture; Mr. Hall focused on memory and education. Meanwhile, Álvaro had ready in time the intro animation sequences, with a style similar to the graphic adventures developed by Lucasarts, which caught the attention of the spectators. Moreover, José Luis helped us with some motion graphics tasks and Joan and I were leaking information from the pilots, even reducing some videos to half its original footage so as they were not excessively heavy. After all these pilots were a sample of the material collected to give an idea of the diversity and quality, both to the audience and to all the potential sponsors / investors we could contact (and in the future allow us to continue with the regular production of new episodes).
For the January premiere I could not forget to let Iván Moneo (journalist from El País) know, which I hoped to announce the first project material from late September. But at the same time, we could not show anything in the newspaper, so we thought about making a trailer specially focused on such an event from some of the testimonies of the pilots. It was there that I found just in time the collaboration of the independent filmmaker Andrés Guevara, who was instrumental in the final edit of the video that was sent to the newspaper, where finally, to my surprise, not only we showed up online, but also in the printed edition. Finally, to close a really hectic January, I traveled to Madrid to release the four pilot episodes at Matadero, in the framework of the VI Conferencia Internacional sobre Filosofía del Videojuego (Sixth International Conference on Video Game Philosophy), again thanks to ARSGAMES. I must confess that I was so tired and stressed at the premiere that even I did not have the strength to assimilate that nearly 120 people had come to see our project. Interviewees, fans, friends, many familiar faces and the feeling of not knowing what will to say about your one-year fight. Luckily, everything went well and the final applause was memorable.
The premiere was a great achievement. It was like a birth that leaves you very happy and proud, but also worried, wondering if you can make that baby-project grow in a balanced way, maintaining an identity in a world of culture and the media too governed by political and economic interests. During the following months the pilots were published (somewhat technically improved and translated into no less than eight languages, thanks to Inma, Irene, Florence, Anke, Viktoria, Cristina, Eliana, Giuseppe, Giacomo, Alessia, Rafaella, Leonardo César, Jorge, Marcus and Luyao, with a special mention to Pablo Muñoz, who gave us a big push to find collaborators in social networks!).
During April I had the pleasure of being invited by Mar Marcos to present the project in the I Jornadas de Webseries (First Conference of Webseries) held at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. There, I was able to meet many others who, like me, had ventured to record their own productions for the Internet. Talking to them was really rewarding, as they had really advanced webseries production as Las Crónicas de Maia or Crónicas Drakonianas, although I kind of felt like a little freak, since apparently the webseries documentary genre is not very common yet. After this event and other encounters with people from the world of television I realized that, sadly as it may sound, our alternatives to launch the project as something aired on professional television were fading away as I spoke with the responsible from the national television channels, both public and private. The best things I heard about it was the following:
- “We are interested in your content and we want to exploit it, but we cannot afford it.”
- “Produce the first season and then, if they like, they will probably buy you the whole lot as if it were a sack of flour.”
- “A documentary series? About gamers? Better go to La 2 (pat on the back included) “.
Until, on May 5th 2012, the final chapter in the fair RetroMadrid was released. I had turned 29 and I also fulfilled a couple of dreams: the fair I had worked side by side two years ago with Rafa Corrales not only reemerged from the ashes but also exceeded 5,000 visitors, thanks to a brutal work teamwork by both exhibitors and organization. On the other hand, we released the last of our four pilots, dedicated to the Spanish video game industry (for me, the hardest one, at all levels).
Seeing such a scenario, I removed all my hopes that the project would finally appear on television, at least in its current form, and with the means we had our only hope was to find a way to continue giving it life on the Internet without expecting anything in return, at least to medium term. Due to this situation, I began to use what I have learned to find a job in the video game industry as a PR or Community Manager, or producer / video editor, or all in one. It was not until June when I started working in Darkout, an independent video game behind which there is a team of 11 people scattered in 7 countries, and it’ll soon see the light in its first commercial version. I must say that, although there still is a long path, it is also comforting, since this job is allowing me to know the industry from the inside much better (which I will also facilitate the task of documenting it) and explore possible the sources of support from The Gamer Inside to indie titles, and vice versa. It is too early to say anything, but I hope to bring more news about it very soon.
 N.B.: La 2 has an undeserved fame of being the most boring channel on Spanish public television. The author does not necessarily agree with this statement.
Mid-2012 – Present day. Expansion and internationalization.
Given the difficulties in producing new material and obtaining economic support, I have chosen to invest a big part of my time and money in completing a bit more the map of interviewees at a national level (interviewing in Valencia, Barcelona, Murcia), focusing on more collaborations which could help us keep visible, improving the website and expanding the online community of the project. The fulfilment of the new web portal has been a key factor. This has been possible thanks to the collaboration of a fan, Chema Montero, who I met in RetroMadrid 2012, when he came over and congratulate me for this project. It was very exciting for me as I had never had the feeling of meeting what we know as “fan”, beyond someone who clicks “Like” at social networks. Chema, who is a web designer, encouraged his friend Jorge López, a programmer, to start from scratch our website. The truth is I couldn’t be happier with the result. Furthermore, as we had such a complete web portal, we couldn’t simply show the contents in Spanish. That is why we launched a petition of collaboration in September to find English translators for almost every post published until now at the project blog. Thanks to Inma Barrios, among others, the call had a really unexpected success and we even received 13 collaboration applications, even from professionals of the American and British industry. This made our blog available to the English speaking public too (thanks to Ángela, Inma, Al, José Manuel, Miguel, Sarah, Siung Ah, Arantza and Darío for their dedication on the translations!)
2012. A year of collaborations.
The aim of expanding the project and getting involved in other initiatives has been constant during last year. Proof of this has been, at a national level:
- The supporting video to the crowdfunding campaign for the dubbing of Unepic.
- Appreciation to the community of podcasts Arcadia Gamer and El Club Vintage after their successful crowdfunding.
At an international level, we have participated at three important events:
- The opening of the Video Game Museum of Rome, at the Italian Videogame Developers Conference 2012 (IVDC), where we presented the project and performed our first pilot episode dedicated to the memory channel of Brazil.
- I travelled to Viborg (Denmark) as a guest and part of the collaborating staff working in the documentation of two festivals: Learning Games Expo and Viborg Animations Festival. The first one brought together some of the most interesting learning video games projects created by Danish and North European students, who we had the chance to interview. What is more, we are now publishing their interviews in our YouTube channel (thanks to Isaac Garabito for their beautiful cover designs.) On the other hand, Viborg Animations Festival gathered some of the biggest experts of the world in education and new technologies orientated to creativity and education in developing countries.
- At mid-November, The Gamer Inside had the honour of being invited to participate in the blog of the Argentinian event Game On!, one of the most important events in the framework of the studies of the relationship between art and video games at an independent level.
The Gamer Inside in figures.
Although I prefer to think in quality terms than in quantity terms, The Gamer Inside has achieved these figures until now:
- Interviewees: 344 of 21 countries, from 5 to 90 years old.
- Hours of recorded material: 400 hours approx.
- Facebook: 964 fans
- Twitter: 1,501 followers
- YouTube channel: 422 subscribers / 47,244 views
- Subscribers in our email newsletter: 725
2013 is a year in which the project will grow in the following four directions:
- Support to independent development. As the director of The Gamer Inside I feel really identified with independent video games; the nature of the project itself shares many things with indie philosophy. We have few resources, we don’t have any external support of any media group, and we would like to transmit an author’s vision and a special care for detail. For this and more, we are going to keep supporting all the independent titles as far as we can, with special attention to the Spanish ones. This support will not be only the diffusion through social networks or the creation of videos but also collaborations at newspapers, as we will start shortly a section in two important websites that work with the indie video games: Ze[h]n Games and Indie-o-rama.
- Scripting of the first season. We will experiment with the narrative format that fits better to what the community wants to hear. We want to thank Bakir, our pixel artist, for his effort to continue with the animated sequences.
- Analysis, classification and archiving of the recorded material. We have been working for one year in a web solution to give the better access possible to the collected material. The objectives are the indexing of the published material so as to allow a fast localization, as well as personalization, of all the footage we will publish in a future (now I have to thank Daniel Ruf and Javier Bermúdez for their collaboration).
- Creation of little docugames. In this project we have scheduled the launch of little adventures, technically simple, but which allows expanding and experimenting at the universe of the series, giving the player a margin to expand the topics, situations and characters in determinate chapters of the documentary.
- …Has anyone said crowd funding? When talking about the future of the project along these two years, many people have suggested that I could make a crowd funding. Unfortunately, I see crowd funding as the solution for much delimited projects only, with a start and an end; instead, in this project we are talking about something without a stipulated end. As my intention is keeping this project running indefinitely, and I do not know how much money we will need to achieve that. So, for now, although it is not viable for the series, it is viable for a campaign of fund raising for other parts of the project. Accordingly, we are considering different possibilities, but we cannot reveal anything concrete yet.
Thanks for being there!
During these two years there has been a bit of everything; happiness and disappointments. As a result of the first losses you try not to get raised too much with good news and not to collapse with the bad ones because after that, you always have to remain at the forefront. From here, I give you a piece of advice after all this working time: everybody can achieve their dreams and dedicate themselves to what they are passionate with, in one way or another, even if you are alone, try not to lose your desire to learn from mistakes and to evolve, as they will be the ones that will help you in bad moments; they will avoid you to throw in the towel and will help you to meet other devotees like you who will give you mutual support to keep going on.
Until I started to write this text and I started to remember all the details of each stage of the project, I have not been aware of what we have achieved in these first two years, due to my pig-headedness of not losing faith in this project. Thank you to all the people who have done their bit to help the project to be where it is today, thank you to all the interviewees who have trusted in our job, thank you to all our collaborators, thank you very much to all of you.
I would like to finish with this video a good friend showed me a few time ago, which illustrates what I think it is a positive attitude before any project you want to carry out in your life. I think that this kind of message is very useful at this time in this world (thank you, Vicente):