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3 years and 1000 creators, Steve Cook's quest to curate the un-curateable

There are a lot of games in this world. Like, a lot a lot and that’s become a problem for developers and customers alike. It’s a complicated problem that nobody (not even us!) has 100% figured out. That’s where people like Steve Cook (AKA Moshboy) come in.

If you’ve been around Twitter lately, you may have seen Cook’s 1000 Creators thread. If you’re out of the loop just know that over the past 3 years Cook has collected 1000 games by 1000 different creators. I was given the opportunity to talk to Steve about why he dedicated such a huge amount of time to this project, and what he learned from it.

You recently completed your 1000 creators project, what was the process like?

At times it was long and tedious and required the use of google and the wayback machine or asking a gamemaker if they still had a game that wasn't online anymore. The videogames I most enjoy curating are the ones that aren't always that easy to find. The fact that the latest versions of Chrome and Firefox don't support Unity or Flash compounded this. There were so many moments of frustration during the process.

And then there were many other moments of reward when I finally gained access to games I had been looking for or trying to get working for quite some time. Many mornings, it was smooth sailing and nothing but fun, especially during the first half of the project.

How are you feeling now that it’s over?

Relieved, happy, sad. I put immense pressure on myself when I work on these large curational projects (I did the same with the Pirate Bay Bundle), probably an unhealthy amount of pressure to be honest. Although it's a hobby, I’m passionate about it and take it very seriously. I like to think what I do is important.

#1000 @sylviefluff:
— trashymctrashboy (@moshboy) July 2, 2017

What do you think people should take from 1000 creators, other than a ton of great games?

What I like to tell people with this project is that I was curating the people that make the videogames as opposed to the videogames themselves. It's easy to play a neat videogame and forget that there was someone behind it that poured their sweat, blood and tears into it for many, many hours on end and honestly get very little in return, (especially in the case of the games I tend to curate because for the most part they are usually based on how fewer places have covered them).

I wanted this project to show that absolutely anyone can and should make videogames if that's what they have always wanted to do (those barriers of entry just keep getting lower and lower) and that videogames can take many forms. They aren't just first person shooters and metroidvanias. Videogames are still a young and largely unexplored medium. So don't feel pressured to make something polished and traditional.

1,000 gamemakers thread, 1 tweet at a time.
#1 @q_dork:
— trashymctrashboy (@moshboy) May 14, 2016

What spawned the 1000 creators thread?

I threw together this thing called a Pirate Bay Bundle a few years ago and always wanted to do a sequel. I actually started putting together the sequel but ran out of steam a third of the way through. I started this thread to prove to myself that I could find one thousand different people that had made or helped make a videogame. Eventually I came to consider it a spiritual sequel to the bundle.

Curation has become a hot topic in recent years. What can services do to improve their services? What can customers do to help find games that are otherwise overlooked?

It's a tough question. Very tough. Videogames are at a point where because the barriers have become so low, there is an over-saturation of videogames vying for peoples' attention. In some ways it's great because there are so many diverse voices getting involved and making beautiful things but on other levels, it's utterly heartbreaking because there are so many videogames that are going to slip through the cracks and some of these people have a dream of making a living from the videogames that they make.

I'm unsure how services continue to improve. There just needs to be a balance between recommending well known things with lesser known things to consumers that might be interested. Unfortunately there are many consumers that will remain unadventurous in regards to their purchases or are severely time limited.

Maybe there should be a big flashing link on the front page that leads to things that have been downloaded, bought or played less than x amount of times or a randomizer that specifically leads to a random game that has been downloaded, bought or played less than x amount of times.

Adventurous customers need to be loud about the lesser known videogames that they find. There are so many lurkers on the internet and I don't think people realize the power they hold in just tweeting or facebooking or whatevering the videogames that they play.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

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I really like and appreciate the concept of curating specifically hard to find / infrequently played games - very few games I've made myself have been played more than a handful of times (which I'm personally okay with), but there's a huge amount of really fantastic games with herculean amounts of effort put into them that have barely been noticed. I think that games could grow so much as an art form if we didn't look for just what we're expecting from games, and Steve Cook's work has undoubtedly helped with that, even in a small way.