Why I Won’t Sell My Art
Or: I Could Never Be a Painter Knowing That the Works of Van Gogh
Have Already Lost Their Original Colours
J. K. Giih
As I recently got back to making computer games I was reminded of what I don’t like about it, namely the trouble of making the game compatible with different systems. One of the few good things about Windows is that there are not too many versions of it widely in use and for the most part the same executables work across all of them. This is the opposite of true for GNU/Linux. In the case of my game the most convenient solution was to distribute a game file that requires a certain framework, but runs on any system with that framework installed, and kindly instruct the users to install that framework for their particular system, which ideally would be a trivial little extra step. Words can’t express how shocked I was to learn that some of the most popular GNU/Linux distributions either didn’t have the framework in their repositories at all or the version they had was over three years old and incompatible with my game. The only way for the millions of users with one of these flavours of systems to run my game would be to install the framework not through their package manager but manually from a website, something that is common practice on Windows but a last resort on GNU/Linux.
This disquieting setback made me once again question whether I would ever be confident enough about anything I make to let people pay for it. What if someone bought a game of mine and didn’t get it to run? I suppose I could eventually fix the problem or in the worst case give them their money back, but neither would make up for the shame of having made and sold something that doesn’t work as it should. And this doesn’t just apply to software. I have a bookbinding jig I made in case I ever feel like printing and binding books, and in theory I could be printing and selling little books of poems and stories right now if I knew for sure that as time would pass the pages would still hold together, even if roughly handled. A test print I made some years ago is still intact, but that in itself is not enough to convince me. This is why I would rather submit my writing for no monetary reward to an online literary journal run by myself and get my income from other sources, namely social security. I do find it odd that the government would choose to pay me simply for existing, but at least I believe it’s money I almost certainly qualify for.