quarta-feira, 23 de outubro de 2019

THE PETECA EXPERIENCE: A brief introduction to a left-wing take on building local videogame scenes

Visit our website: peteca.online

I’m writing this to contribute with the discussion about the need of local videogame communities, and to give anglophone coleagues an understanding of the brazilian context, our local problems and what we are proposing as solution. I’m being very brief here, so I suggest you to not feel satisfied with that low quantity of information.

The videogame in Brasil

The videogame industry in Brasil is not historically strong in comparison with USA, Europe and Japan. We started and developed around distribution of mostly japanese and north american games and machines, frequently in legal grey arrangements. So our industry was formed as a responsive culture, answering with local solutions to distribute foreign technology and innovation.

As a result, the recent industry is focused in conquering some space in the margins of the strong industry, making games under contract for the foreign companies with budget and contacts, or seeking the anglophone players (all alone or through publishers) or trying collabs with anglophone authors and studios if in a more individual/small group indie scale. Also new miserable derivative markets are being created by the gamefication fever.

A generation of videogame literates

In parallel with all that, we had a generation of videogame players that didn’t thought deeply about that complexity between the socioeconomic structure and the pieces of art they were interacting with for years. These players received the videogame as a foreigner culture, like a gift from the gods, and then some of these players discovered that making games was possible as a way of expression, as soon as the tools to do computer games were arriving with the internet. Many of these videogame literates are working class fellows that don’t have the time to dispend in videogame making and don’t have access to the industry. We don’t have a videogame culture for them, we don’t have a way to keep them making what they love.

Corporative culture and indie yuppism

In the last decade, local indie events with short and cool english names started to being organized in many brazilian cities. SPIN, BRING, PONG, PAIN and GLITCH are some examples. These events, centralized in prominent individuals - with mysterious organizer powers - and associated with the game jams started to form a videogame culture beyond the naïf consumption but strongly inspired by liberal ideology.

One of the key moments in the Porto Alegre scene was the exhibition of Indie Game the Movie in a theater, organized by Acquiris, a completely not indie local company (since even our biggest studios are small, “indie” is used in a lot of wrong contexts). The movie indoctrinates a narrative of the individual who make sacrifices and conquers the success, a genius and a saint. A smart and cruel way to explore the impossible love of making games.

There is a project in the brazilian videogame industry, very similar to the broader project of the latin-american bourgeoisie: they have free access to all the world, the borders aren’t a real problem for them, so they seek the opportunities out there while keep their countries and the people of their countries as a natural resource (with all the problems of reading nature as a resource). Working class people are like forests for them: something to burn in order to make profit. “Work for me, I’m the genius, maybe you can be that guy someday.” No, we need revolutionary solidarity to build our culture in radically different ways of thinking, organizing and making.

What is Peteca

Peteca is an experience of building people’s power in independent videogame, against the burgeois control of our culture. The heart of Peteca is the line of puxadores (pullers), a rotary system of protagonism that sabotages the liberal networking. The function of Peteca is to organize local meetings to discuss and experiment radical ideas about videogames. Every meeting is well documented to serve as a reference and demystification of the organizing process for the future puxadores.

Since we can’t pay for a permanent place, Peteca happens in an itinerant model. The puxador have three responsabilities:
Propose a place where the meeting can happen;
Propose a theme and a format for the meeting;
Register the meeting in details.

This opens the possibility to bring the videogame makers of the city to places where they usually don’t go. Places that don’t make sense in a profitable way.

What Peteca is in favor of/trying to do

Independent videogame as expression of a rebellious creativity and compromised with society;

Propaganda through action: being the practical example of what we want. Do what we can from our possibilities without losing the critical horizon;

The conception of scene as a contracultural local dynamics, based in mutual aid instead of liberal networking, being aware of the processes of exploitation, globalization and colonization - economic and aesthetic;

Diversity: compromise with a foment of expressive presence of women, people of color, people with disabilities, peripheral and queer, as a compromise to offer tools to deal with differential levels of privilege and decorrent social symptoms.

What Peteca is against of/trying to avoid

The individual-centralist model as the only way to organize;

The belief in the impossibility of collective and democratic solutions;

The permissive exemptness as the default in the politic conversation;

The paralyzing belief in the impossibility of taking a position as a group of people;

The individual success as the only driving force of associations between individuals;

The exaggerated professionalization of social relations; The networking paradigm;

The entrepreneurship as the foundation of every intellectual and cultural production and the profit as the only goal;

Insertion in the market without compromise with society: anti-ethical design, exploitation and audience maintenance;

The conception of a videogame centered in the production of “fun” or escapist entertainment necessarily acritical or despolitized;

The idea of independent as the initial stage of a mainstream/AAA position.


The more dynamic Peteca is happening in Porto Alegre, south of Brasil, with nine meetings till this day. There are Petecas in Aracaju (northeast) and São Paulo (southeast) too. Every city with its own line of puxadores. The proportions of the meetings are small, varying from three to eight participants, but we hope to grow.

The best we can do for our local videogame communities is to give up waiting for the benevolence of geniuses and saints, stop dreaming with gifts from the gods, and take our culture with our own hands. Success is impossible but our cities are possible and real. I hope our modest experience can inspire you colleagues around the world.

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