Interview with Spencer Yan

Oh dear god, where in blazes do i begin with this? For the sake of context, Spencer Yan is a writer, blogger, and an amateur game developer who gained some pretty sordid notoriety for a rather ostentatious project back in 2016. The project in question was a bit of an obscure endeavor to begin with. It was meant to be a modification for a rather popular independent game called Hotline Miami initially titled “Midnight Animal” and then later “The Exegesis of John the Martyr ” then simply untitled and then ultimately, cancelled and abandoned. This was thanks to, in no small part, the constant vitriolic harassment he received for for deviating from the the base game’s glitzy aesthetics and surreal story in favor of something far more grounded, philosophical, and muted in tone. Any off-handed references we make to an aborted gaming project more than likely refers to the aforementioned terminated endeavor.

Overall, he’s quite a thinker. I’m fascinated by his viewpoints in regards to art, though i know for a fact we don’t see eye to eye. There were some details he failed to address, in part because we spent too much time waxing philosophical, such as the usual amount of time he spends on social media. Overall, his experience with social media, at least in regards to his past projects, had been pretty negative. He told me he felt the need to engage because he, and i quote, “tried to engage with it because I was naive and stupid enough to think I could make a difference by attempting to reason with, and engage the human dimension of that toxicity with the hopes that I could connect with people on a more basic level as a person”. Currently, his only truly active platform is Twitter. If you’re interested in following him, here is his Twitter page. Without further ado, here is the direct copy and pasted conversation we had on Twitter:

  1. Yeah, sure

     

     Report this message sent 9 hours ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 9 hours ago from Spencer Yan
  2. Damn, didn’t think you’d actually respond. Cool. Should we do this over email or twitter?

    Delete this message sent 5 hours ago from Alex Jimenez
  3. WHatever you’re comfortable with

     Report this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer Yan
  4. You got a facebook?

    Delete this message sent 2 hours ago from Alex Jimenez
  5. Yeah, but I don’t really use it much

     Report this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer Yan
  6. I’m much more likely to respond either here, or via email

     Report this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer Yan
  7. No prob, we’ll use here then

    Delete this message sent 2 hours ago from Alex Jimenez
  8. Sure, I’ll answer your questions as soon as I can

     Report this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer Yan
  9. Cool, cool. I got to start by asking, avant gard nobody? Hell of a way to present yourself.

    Delete this message sent 2 hours ago from Alex Jimenez
  10. It doesn’t mean much of anything substantial to most people, it’s just a personal play on words which I found interesting

     Report this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer Yan
  11. Playing up the role of the ostentatious artist. Truth be told, after the whole midnight animal thing, I’ve no doubt there are some that honestly see you that way.

    Delete this message sent 2 hours ago from Alex Jimenez
  12. It’s actually deliberately playing it down; I’ve never once considered myself an artist of any kind, and frankly, I don’t believe that artists exist, or that art itself is meaningful

     Report this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer Yan
  13. I will definitely admit though that I do play into the worst things people say about me a lot; even if they’re completely misguided or deluded, there’s always the slightest sliver of truth to be found, and I find that interesting to work off of

     Report this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer Yan
  14. It’s meaningless and insincere to pretend I’m something I’m not, or don’t want to be; so I just embrace what I am, and use that to my advantage

     Report this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer Yan
  15. I get what you’re saying. Labels are more often than simply that and nothing more. They only inhibit if take seriously. Jesus, reminds me of punk rock phase.

    Delete this message sent 2 hours ago from Alex Jimenez
  16. Yeah

     Report this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer Yan
  17. It’s not even just the label, it’s the entire notion of artistry as a whole that I fundamentally despise

     Report this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer Yan
  18. How come?

    Delete this message sent 2 hours ago from Alex Jimenez
  19. It’s a social judgment above everything else, and it’s used to enforce what I believe to be very artificial, and stultifying limitations on who or what constitutes membership within that community

     Report this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer Yan
  20. In general, I shun any kind of collective communitiies

     Report this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer Yan
  21. At least ones that identify themselves with some kind of unqualifiable arguments

     Report this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer Yan
  22. Therefore you wouldn’t call your own projects art?

    Delete this message sent 2 hours ago from Alex Jimenez
  23. One of the reasons, yeah

     Report this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer Yan
  24. They’re always either ‘projects’ or ‘works’

     Report this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer Yan
  25. At best, they’re ‘texts’

     Report this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer Yan
  26. I wouldn’t call my own projects art, and I wouldn’t call anyone else’s art either

     Report this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer Yan
  27. You don’t think you’re conflating art with craft? I mean, one’s generally thought to be expression while the other implicitly has some set bar of skill

    Delete this message sent 2 hours ago from Alex Jimenez
  28. Neither really means anything to me

     Report this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer Yan
  29. People produce works, and works exist within dialectic

     Report this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer Yan
  30. They can either contribute something meaningful to the dialectic, or they can be uninteresting and contribute nothing

     Report this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer Yan
  31. Though if i’m following you here, whether they contribute or not, would it matter either way?

    Delete this message sent 2 hours ago from Alex Jimenez
  32. It certainly matters if they are able to contribute something

     Report this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 2 hours ago from Spencer Yan
  33. But then again, who’s to say their contribution will will have any lasting value. Fads come and go and would-be game changers sometimes never get off the ground. Electric cars and laserdisc

    Delete this message sent 1 hour ago from Alex Jimenez
  34. It’s not up to people themselves to decide, it’s up to everyone else; hence the value of the dialectic, which necessitates an other

     Report this message sent 1 hour ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 1 hour ago from Spencer Yan
  35. Gotcha. Bringing it back to Earth here, do you have any more projects on the horizon?

    Delete this message sent 1 hour ago from Alex Jimenez
  36. Not for the near future, but I have started plotting out something pretty significant over the past month or so

     Report this message sent 1 hour ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 1 hour ago from Spencer Yan
  37. Mind giving me a little insight? What is it?

    Delete this message sent 1 hour ago from Alex Jimenez
  38. It’s a text about the process of writing and reading text

     Report this message sent 1 hour ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 1 hour ago from Spencer Yan
  39. Textception

    Delete this message sent 1 hour ago from Alex Jimenez
  40. Delete this message sent 1 hour ago from Alex Jimenez
  41. i’m sorry

    Delete this message sent 1 hour ago from Alex Jimenez
  42. In some sense, maybe

     Report this message sent 1 hour ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 1 hour ago from Spencer Yan
  43. A lot of my work deals with the fundamental instability of narratives, and the collapse of authorial voice

     Report this message sent 1 hour ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 1 hour ago from Spencer Yan
  44. There’s the fundamental question of the separation between authors and their fictions, and fictions and realities in general; so a lot of stuff like narrative recursion etc does appear

     Report this message sent 1 hour ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 1 hour ago from Spencer Yan
  45. You say this and i’m starting to think back to Art Spieglman’s Maus. It’s artstyle begins to betray the narrative, purposfully, once the author himself realizes that anthropomorphizing ethnic groups in itself doesn’t work

    Delete this message sent 1 hour ago from Alex Jimenez
  46. Sorry, i’m assuming you’ve read it.

    Delete this message sent 1 hour ago from Alex Jimenez
  47. It’s not exactly the same thing, but yeah, I do tangentially brush up against that kind of stuff, re: the struggle between reproduction reality and creating new ones through attempts at mimetic representation

     Report this message sent 1 hour ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 1 hour ago from Spencer Yan
  48. How do you feel about open world games that put so much effort into building their lore and rules only for the gameplay to betray both at every turn?

    Delete this message sent 1 hour ago from Alex Jimenez
  49. Can you give an example?

     Report this message sent 1 hour ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 1 hour ago from Spencer Yan
  50. Elder Scrolls. The provinces you visit are touted in writing as vast countries yet Skyrim is like 20 square miles

    Delete this message sent 1 hour ago from Alex Jimenez
  51. I know there are gameplay limitation, but come on

    Delete this message sent 1 hour ago from Alex Jimenez
  52. Well, I really love Skyrim, to be honest

     Report this message sent 1 hour ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 1 hour ago from Spencer Yan
  53. so do i

    Delete this message sent 1 hour ago from Alex Jimenez
  54. It’s the first game that really made me truly appreciate the concept of an open world, and it’s one of very few games that’s made me genuinely appreciate nature and my own life more

     Report this message sent 1 hour ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 1 hour ago from Spencer Yan
  55. I’m with you on the latter but not so much the former. As majestic as nature is, i’d rather avoid it if at all possible.

    Delete this message sent 1 hour ago from Alex Jimenez
  56. Oh, yeah, I’m not really a fan of the outdoors much in terms of going out into it

     Report this message sent 1 hour ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 1 hour ago from Spencer Yan
  57. I can do it, sure, and have done it, but I’m not very into it in general

     Report this message sent 1 hour ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 1 hour ago from Spencer Yan
  58. Hence the seeming penchant for urban landscapes

    Delete this message sent 1 hour ago from Alex Jimenez
  59. I just like places with uninterrupted views of the sky

     Report this message sent 1 hour ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 1 hour ago from Spencer Yan
  60. Winding it back to you upcoming project, care to say anything else about it? You say you’re plotting it, so i can assume there will be a story.

    Delete this message sent 1 hour ago from Alex Jimenez
  61. I’m not really comfortable saying much else about it; it’s in a very nascent stage right now, and it’s an almost strictly academic work in some sense, at least right now, so I don’t want to get anybody’s interest invested in something that’s extremely niche

     Report this message sent 1 hour ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 1 hour ago from Spencer Yan
  62. I understand. You go on any other social media beyond twitter? You had a wordpress link before your github a while ago, right?

    Delete this message sent 1 hour ago from Alex Jimenez
  63. Nah, Twitter is really the only platform I use with any consistency, although I’ve been scaling back considerably in the past month or so

     Report this message sent 1 hour ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 1 hour ago from Spencer Yan
  64. I was wondering about that, ’cause i saw the contact page on your github and figured you were active elsewhere

    Delete this message sent 59 minutes ago from Alex Jimenez
  65. I used to be a lot more active, but it’s just been wearing me out, and I don’t have much interest in maintaining much of a consistent online presence anymore

     Report this message sent 57 minutes ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 57 minutes ago from Spencer Yan
  66. Crawling back into the shadows, huh?

    Delete this message sent 57 minutes ago from Alex Jimenez
  67. Nah, everything is still there, so there aren’t really any shadows involved

     Report this message sent 56 minutes ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 56 minutes ago from Spencer Yan
  68. I just don’t really have anything meaningful to say or offer, so there’s no point in me pretending otherwise

     Report this message sent 56 minutes ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 56 minutes ago from Spencer Yan
  69. Coming onto the subject of having something to say, you ever feel there was any real necessity to engage with an audience? I mean with some of the shitty things people were throwing your way from your game project, i would’ve just tuned it out early on if i were you.

    Delete this message sent 53 minutes ago from Alex Jimenez
  70. Everybody always talks about “tuning things out” as if it’s so easy or simple, but in reality, what happens is that an atmosphere of toxicity is fostered from which you literally cannot escape

     Report this message sent 52 minutes ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 52 minutes ago from Spencer Yan
  71. Whether you choose to actively regard specific statements or not doesn’t make a difference; either way, you’re producing in the shadow of a smog of public effluvia, and there’s nothing you can do about it

     Report this message sent 51 minutes ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 51 minutes ago from Spencer Yan
  72. Early on, I tried to engage with it because I was naive and stupid enough to think I could make a difference by attempting to reason with, and engage the human dimension of that toxicity with the hopes that I could connect with people on a more basic level as a person

     Report this message sent 50 minutes ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 50 minutes ago from Spencer Yan
  73. It turns out I grossly overestimated both the intelligence and amiability of other people, and my own patience for patent bullshit and entitlement

     Report this message sent 49 minutes ago from Spencer YanDelete this message sent 49 minutes ago from Spencer Yan
  74. Patent bullshit and entitlement. That’s gamers for ya

    Delete this message sent 48 minutes ago from Alex Jimenez
  75. Honestly though, real sorry to hear that.

    Delete this message sent 44 minutes ago from Alex Jimenez
  76. I think i’m about ready to wrap this up, and i only really got 2 questions left

    Delete this message sent 44 minutes ago from Alex Jimenez
  77. Okay, it’s getting late. If we have to stop, we’ll stop here. It was real cool getting some insight into your worldview and you certainly gave me quite a bit of material to work with. I’m going to put this up on my wordpress for my assignment. If there’s anything you want me to strike from the record, i’ll edit the entry afterwards. Have a nice evening

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s