Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Gaming . . . There Be Money There

Stan Brown, Gamerati.  Key demographic: Grognard.  Synopsis: Originated game organization in Japan; after name dropping, makes claim to "the first sanctioned Magic Tournament in Japan, ever" - finishes with cute story about Japanese citizens confusing role-playing games with role-playing sex.  Impression: Kind of a self-important git.

Catherine Blessing, Gamerati.  Key demographic: Children, Cute.  Synopsis:  Describes principles of game she would like to create; occasionally in the background, sounds of an adult chuckling.  Impression: awwww . . .

Brent Newhall, Gamerati.  Key demographic: Man boys, programmer.  Synopsis:  Details war story with typical incomprehensible disconnected phrases gamers use when going on and on about their games when no one cares; includes demographic-focused references to smoking and drunkenness and the innocence of the 15-year-old girl role-player.  Impression: Carefully staged, seemed to have trouble remembering lines.

Rob Hunt, Gamerati.  Key demographic: Cool people.  Synopsis:  Leads with reminisces of dance parties - "raves" - drugs, "weird crazy stuff," getting killed, etc., moving onto how a group of these ravers would, on Sundays, play Dungeons & Dragons.  Impression:  Cool people play D&D.

Gail Simone, Gamerati.  Key demographic: Artist, writer.  Synopsis:  Following self-promotion, describes video games as means to relax when creativity-stressed; includes product placement before returning to self-promotion, followed by more self-promotion, ending with use of gaming strategy as a measurement of her value as a self-promoted product.  Impression:  Wouldn't read her comics.

Beth Martinez, Gamerati.  Key demographic:  Cosplayers, possibly Furries.  Synopsis:  Prefers to watch rather than personally role-play, but plays online MMOs, loves to meet people and make costumes, proud to be accepted for what she does.  Impression:  Mostly harmless.

Pedro Barrenchea, Gamerati.  Key demographic:  Hispanic, game designers.  Synopses:  Starts by showing stamps on nerd card (dyslexic, ADHD, fantasy novels), promotes healing powers of gaming, speaks of professional ambitions before gushing about the gaming universe.  Impression:  Will probably be the most successful ex-Gamerati in ten years.

There's more, but I'm a bit sick to my stomach now.

A lot of people will think that I'm being grossly unfair by scheduling these videos as directed towards a key demographic.  But, you know, this is why marketing works.


Alexis Smolensk said...

Oh, by the way. The reader should be aware that these little shorts - which say nothing about the actual game - are intended to give little oxytocin hits, by making you feel warm and reassured that there are people in the world that you would really like, who like the same things you like. Then you will remember fondly that the people at Gamerati are JUST LIKE YOU.

Go you.

Scarbrow said...

The perfect antidote to marketing: founded, reasoned criticism. Especially if witty.

Thank you for providing it

Stephen Radney-MacFarland said...

So as a guy who knows Stan! and was sitting just beyond the camera when he taped that segment, I can tell you he is the least self-important git I know. No really. And I know self-important, and git-ish, because I have a tendency to be both.

He was just telling a gamer story that he remembered. It was funny. It was weird. Marketing? Sure. Cynical? Not by a long shot.

Alexis Smolensk said...

From a person with three names, about a person who needs an affected exclamation point after his first name, talking about the Magic tournament that a guy who used to work for the WOTC initiated.

Yeah, right. Not the least self-important.

Tell me, Stephen Radney-MacFarland, as an ordinary grumpy grognard, who heard of sexual role-playing in, like, the 1970s, when the 'wierd' story was already tiresome, what does GAMERATI have to offer me?

See, I'm writing a book, an Advanced Guide to being a better DM, that presumes the reader already IS a DM, and therefore doesn't need to be told again what combat is. And I would sincerely like to know, however gittish I may sound right now, what value gamerati has for me. You are marketing it. And someone is picking the key demographics, so they seem to know what they're doing.

I'd like you to sell me. Don't just defend your friend. Deliver a pitch.

Hand to heart, I'll respect it.

Stephen Radney-MacFarland said...

I don't know if I understand what you are asking from me, but I will hazard a shot at this...I guess.

Gamerati is about the fun of games. It is a celebration of that pastime in all its nuances--the fun, the "cool", the interesting, the silly. And as both a discipline and frivolity.

They run a fantastic event in Tacoma that I can take my non-gamer girlfriend and her son to and we can all have a blast. They accept gamers of all types. Even freaky game designers with strange names.

For some reason these little video shorts may have chafed your ass in some way, but I found them cute and fun. Mileage may vary, I guess.

What I do have to disagree with your assessment of Stan! as a person via this one bit of sound bite. Stan! is one of the nicest, warmest, and talented people I know. I'm not here to market. I'm no marketer. Spend some time with Stan! and you will find that he sells himself. But I am a friend of Stan!'s and I can tell you this. Your impression is just that and you are filling that impression with pretense that seems...well, overstated. Maybe because I've seen the animal, and your analysis comes from one mere fossil: a artifact you've found on the internet.

Anyhoo...good gaming.

Alexis Smolensk said...


The words that you have chosen to describe the game towards which I have dedicated my life, that I consider an artform, that I consider to be performance art, which is adrenaline-fueled and highly intellectual, which takes many hundreds of hours to build and process, and which encourages my players to participate in fanatically, disturb me.

You see the game as "frivolous," the sort of thing that can be participated in without much thought, I see D&D and roleplaying as a deeply serious investment of emotion, creativity and spiritual development. You see the game as something that "non-players" need to be able to participate in. I expect non-players to learn, change, embrace the game and become players - not 'dabble' for a day because the game is accessible.

I don't support the promotion of RPG gaming as an amusement. It means much more to me than that.

As far as Stan (affectation not included) is concerned, may be nice, and warm, and talented. But the phrases and message in the short was CHOSEN to convey a very distinct message, and that message was to market himself and the product you're also supporting. I don't care who or what Stan is. I only care about the message he conveyed. I strongly, sincerely, passionately disagree with that message, because fundamentally it was about MARKETING the game, not PLAYING the game.

Here is where we differ. I don't care who plays. I don't care if it is fun for them. I don't care if anyone thinks the game is fun. I don't care about inventing spaces to play the game, or making sure that other people have a blast. These are marketing concerns.

My concern is the GAME. How it is played, how it is improved, how the players are treated by DMs and what happens in the game.

You mentioned none of these things. Because that is not your message. Your message is that I should like a game that I already like, and that I already play, without needing you or your celebration. And because I don't need you, and because none of the things you offer me are in any way wanted by me, I must make the analysis that you are exploiting people who play the game as a means of spreading your marketing agenda.

It is actually WORSE if you are sincere when you speak the words you speak. I'm fairly certain you don't understand that. That is because YOU are in business, while I am playing a game.

This makes our agendas very, very different.

Stephen Radney-MacFarland said...

I think we have a fundamental disagreement. Like yourself, I have dedicated most of my life to the game. I've worked on four iterations of it, been playing it for...holy shit...22 years (damn, am I that old? I guess I'm that old), and have taught numerous course on the design and business of gaming.

It is serious. And it is frivolous. I constantly tell people it is my job to make fun. A particular kind of fun, but the main goal is fun. When I talk to other players, they tell me stories about how much fun they have. Like Gary Gygax (see both his books Role-Playing Mastery and Master of the Game) I do not believe that roleplaying games are performance art. Quiet frankly they just don't meet many of the criteria. I do think that there are levels of mastery one can obtain, and I constantly strive to the highest level of mastery in play and in design. During my career I have found enjoyment and earned accolades in each.

Games are also a business. You may not like that side. You may think it sullies games, but I also disagree with you on that count. I do care who plays the game. I do care if people have fun. Games should be fun.

All of that being said, that is beside the original point to why I posted to this blog to begin with is to point out that your impression of my friend was wrong. It still is.

Now I've come to the conclusion that you and I are not going to agree on any of this. And that's fine. Opinions vary. You may see me as some sort of RPG business hack, and that's you prerogative, I guess. I'm sure this assessment will give a lot of the people who know me a good laugh.

Good gaming.

Alexis Smolensk said...

That's right, Stephen. We do have a fundamental disagreement.

Stephen Radney-MacFarland said...

Drat. Make that been playing for 32 years. I was trying to make myself younger than I really am. Oh well.

Alexis Smolensk said...

I've been playing for 35, Stephen, and I know many people with this much experience.

32 years of repeated bad habits and repeated bad philosophies do not value make.

Shawn Driscoll said...

Never heard of this Gamerati before. I have trust issues with these kind of self-marketing "gamers". I feel like I've stumbled onto Linkedin RPG connections.