Video Games Don’t Kill People

tdb_108_video_games_kill_people_by_shadowmaginis-d4ybhxx I was watching With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story the other day and there was an great segment of the documentary devoted to the heat that the comic book industry faced during the 50’s because it was comic books that were ruining and corrupting young people. The only proof presented was shoddy – 100/100 juvenile delinquents read comic books, which today would be like asking junior high boys if they played video games – and at the time it gave an excuse and a scapegoat for poor parenting.

“You’re not a bad parent, its those comic books ruining your kids!” – direct quote from the documentary.

Fast forward to 15 or 20 years ago around Columbine.

“You’re not a bad parent, its that heavy metal ruining your kids!”

And nowadays,

“You’re not a bad parent, its those video games ruining your kids!”

So where does that leave us? Maybe the issues of troubled youth and mental instability aren’t because of a specific form of multimedia culture but the lack of a proper upbringing. I like comics and movies and music and video games a whole lot. I’ve never shot anyone in the name of demonic music/movies/video games. I also had parents that were very stern with me on what was okay and what was not. Not very long ago after the shooting in Connecticut a major news outlet reported that “According to a friend of the shooter, his favourite weapon in a video game was the assault rifle!” Then the article continued that since he played a video game with an assault rifle that it made him do this atrocity (paraphrased). Neat. Sick reporting bro. I prefer shotguns in most shooting games. I also like to throw fire balls in RPG’s and perform fatalities in fighting games. Not once have I fired a shotgun at a human, tried to manipulate fire in my hand or rip someone in half. video-games-kill Maybe theses issues go beyond multimedia and into far more difficult avenues of society? But those lack the easy canned outrage that old ass senators, who’ve never held a controller in their life, can conjure up. Much like the ones before them blamed heavy metal. And the ones before them blamed comic books. Much easier to blame things you have no experience with. Its like wrestling and steroids. Any time a wrestler dies, STEROIDS! Not alcoholism, drug abuse, mental illness, etc. STEROIDS! Why? It is easy. It ruined baseball too so demonize anywhere it might be. Don’t mention that caffeine abuse has all the same negative side effects of steroids. Its STEROIDS! because of lazy reporting. Do you have a source? No. Ah whatever. STEROIDS. Take the easy way out. There is an argument to be made about a culture of violence in today’s society. But that culture doesn’t start and end with video games. Ugh.

Industry… Transform!

Source material: groundswell by Li C., Bernoff, J

Autobots! Transform! The… industries. Because of the groundswell. Attack? Help these companies understand the mobile age! If you’re company connects and taps into the groundswell and listens properly then your company should never be the same again. It is like constantly innovating customer service, because that is what it is really all about. Good businesses serve their customers well because they know what their customers want. Social media opens that up in entirely new ways. But it isn’t quite that easy. global-mobile-data-traffic-by-device I’ve said before that the word is going increasingly mobile and that it is rapid. This article from Business Insider predicts that it will basically explode five-fold in the next 4 years. If you’re a big company, you best make an app. Send push notifications through it. That could very well be a new form of direct mail. Push notifications all pop up on my screen until I dismiss them. Why not use that for marketing? What about Snapchat for short time-span hype? A 5 second picture that gets auto erased would be awfully hype for your customers. If you’re a game company teasing box art or a sports team teasing a new uniform, wouldn’t that be a cool way to go about it? Type out a mini-message, take a picture of a corner and send it off. Sounds like viral marketing to me. You have to start somewhere. 1. Start small Company transformations are not easy tasks. Its a lot like a merger, which as history has shown, are full of hiccups to the point of causing big old failure. You’re merging new ideas into a company full of different personalities and peoples with different beliefs about how to do business. You can’t come in with these ideas, say “Everything we used to do sucks. Now we’re doing this!” and expect it to go smoothly. You just end up insulting people. But if you start small and strategically it can work. Like slowly dripping food colouring into water, and then slowly stirring it so the momentum doesn’t make anything spill. Change takes time so pick your strategy strategically for ultimate strategery. 2. Educate everyone This is especially true for executives who tend to believe social media and newer business practices are for kids or them daggum hippies and not customers. But wait, these “kids” are getting older and becoming the core customers and target audience/market. Proof and evidence always works best. One great example of proof would be to construct an in-depth Social Technographics Profile packed with all the facts and numbers a lot of the “older school” thinkers tend to favour. It also wouldn’t hurt to set up an internal version of any external efforts so people can see first hand how it works on a small scale to help them understand the benefits on a larger scale. Have an internal sort of social media sharing platform on the company’s intranet. You can’t make successful changes if people don’t understand them. 3. Get the right people in place This is one of the simplest business concepts. Getting the right person for the right job. This usually comes down to knowledge of the situation, but more importantly passion. If someone is passionate about something then they are more likely to succeed. You need this relationship with the customers established  and for it to be successful or else what is the point? The most successful sports teams hire the right people to coach and manage, and that is why they are successful. Ownership is proactive in finding the right people but once they have them they sits back and say “You are the guy. This is up to you. You win us a Super Bowl/Stanley Cup/World Series.” They don’t put people without the right knowledge or passion in that position. If you have the right ownership group in place, they’ll find the right management group, to find the right coaching staff, to find the right player personnel to win. No team has won a Cup/Bowl/Series by putting someone who just had spare time into a position they weren’t suited for. A business shouldn’t do that either. 4. Synchronize your third parties nsync-nsync-1998 This involves getting your technology partners, contracted agencies, third party anything’s coordinated on to your plan. You’re paying them to do work for you, but if they don’t know what is happening, with you and your other agencies too, you’re probably not going to get very good work from them. This could be duplicate work, wrong work, bad work. Plain old confusion. That is never a good thing in business. Also be ready that if push comes to shove, change agencies or partners. If the one you’re working with cannot do work the way you want need then it is a waste of time and money that could be better spent elsewhere. 5. Plan ahead You want to know where this is supposed to take your company. What are the expectations? Where are you planning to take this objectives? Why? Plan a couple steps ahead at all times. Anticipate twists and turns. You don’t drive a car only paying attention to the first 3 feet in front of your vehicle, why would you figuratively do that in business? ____ Read my latest  sports bits at Talkingbaws.com Goalie Mike Smith scores with less than a second to play High school umpire Tag Team’s his strike out call Don’t be upset that Joe Thornton would touch himself _____ Authors note: I have to apologize for the late post. I was suffering from some sinus infection induced migraines as well as midterms this week at college.

Is Anybody Listening?

Source material: groundswell by Li C., Bernoff, J

This was probably my favourite chapter so far because it relates so well to all the mistakes that pretty well every company make. Here are a few key points that really stood out to me but get screwed up.

1. “Your brand is what your customer says it is.”

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“The value of the brand belongs to the market, not the company.”

The company believes they are, or wants to be, one thing, while the market/consumers believe they are something else.  You can tell yourself that you’re “B” all you want but if people just see a “13” then you’re a “13”.

A good example would be Blackberry.  They believed for the longest time that they were the premier business phone, which they were for a long while. But they did not adapt to the new smartphones being released and a shift in the market and became synonymous with “old persons” phone. The smartphone market is won or lost in the 20-35ish demographic, especially at the time of the Blackberry and iPhone going head to head in 2008 – 2009. College aged people accounted for just shy of 50% of smartphone users in 2011. They saw the Blackberry as “dads” phone or the stuffy business person phone. It is what sunk Blackberry. They were not able to shake that stigma. Why? Well, after years of generally ignoring the needs, aka not listening, of younger people with phones they found it impossible to catch back up. Meanwhile, Android and Apple have focused almost the entirety of their marketing efforts on people aged 18-35 and the market clamoured that they were “cool” phones and they’re alive and well. They listened to the market and built their product for it while Blackberry built their product and told the market how to use it.

2. What is listening?

If you’re listening efforts are not revealing new insight then you are doing it wrong. Plain and simple. If you are any gaming company at all and you are not constantly finding input from your community on how to tweak things to better the experience then you are a failing gaming company.  Times have changed from the 90s where you made a game and people played it.  Now you make your game in the mould of the customer.

If you’re XBOX and all the internet chatter is “Boo DRM! Boo always online! Boo Kinect! Boo!” and you come right out and say “DRM. Always online. Kinect. Deal with it!” well you weren’t listening at all. At all. In fact, you’re competitor who said “…” on all the issues above had their stock jump 8% because of you.

What XBOX tried to do was make their service into Steam. Fantastic idea. Everyone loves Steam. But instead of telling people “This is XBOX Steam” which people would have loved to hear, all that was said was the dirty, dirty engineering words and none of the benefits.

3. Set up a community

This is simple enough and should be your primary listening plan. It can be as simple as having a Facebook page or a Twitter account which can be really effective if you run them well. Read all the action happening on your Facebook wall. Check all your mentions on Twitter and search hashtags that are directly or indirectly related to your company.  Find where your audience’s Social Technographic Profile is and start interacting. Don’t just listen or read, reply. Have a conversation. You don’t need to reply to everyone but you should be conversing to some extent in a proper two-way manner. If you’re in technology or games, you probably have your own forums. Great. Also be aware of all the other forums on other websites that are more neutral ground than yours. For instance, there is the Bioware Social Network and then there are people talking Bioware games on Gamefaqs and other sites. You can find just as much valuable information among the trash there as you can anywhere else.

4. Closing thoughts

None of this is exactly difficult. Not for tech companies and video game makers and developers and whatever else. Your entire market is online people. This is why you have community managers.  To listen at the ground floor what the audience wants, let your development team know and give that to market.

Listening well can change the power structure of your company. Listening poorly can send you up the river without a paddle.

This is a great video from Steve Jobs where he talks about tailoring your messaging.

If he scored 4 goals, Joe Thornton would take his pants off. Don’t be upset

(can also be read at http://talkingbaws.com/category/home/ where I will be posting most of my sports thoughts)

Sharks’ rookie Tomas Hertl scored 4 goals against the Rangers and sealed it off with this beauty.

It sent the hockey world, at least in North America, into a tizzy. Most comments were in endorsement of the move. Its a highlight reel move. This got the NHL on ESPN which usually only happens after someone does something criminal on the ice, or a team wins the Stanley Cup. The NHL needs things like this. It was great when Daniel Sedin did it. Rick Nash did it. And especially when Marek Malik did it. And literally as I am writing this, Thomas Vanek just did.

So why are people upset? Apparently because these damn kids today have no respect! But really, who cares. 99.9% of people love it. Only Damien Cox and Adam Oates hate it. Its great to see “shootout” moves become part of regular play. People love it when someone does a flashy dunk in the NBA, so why not flashy dangles?

Today, the Vancouver Canucks will play the San Jose Sharks at home. Since the Sharks haven’t played a game since “Teenage Mutant Ninja” Hertl’s big night, it was still a topic of discussion. The Vancouver media were interviewing Sharks winger Patrick Marleau and asked about the showboat-iness of Hertl’s big night. This is when captain Joe Thornton piped in with this:

“I’d have my cock out if I scored 4 goals. I’d have my cock out, stroking it.”

Jason Botchford posted this quote in his blog at the Province.

Now people are mad at Botchford. Why? Apparently when a player shouts from across the room and interrupts an interview, its off the record. A lot of other media members (basically anyone who isn’t a Sharks media) have come to Botchford’s defence. Most echo some sentiment of “unless its stated that its off the record, then it is on the record.” Apparently, yelling an answer to the media is “locker room talk” and it stays there. But the the audio of the event is reportedly clearly audible on Vancouver radio who played the clip along with their Marleau audio, the stuff they actually wanted.

There are two camps on why this is so awful. The first is the above “off the record” crew that apparently won’t publish a juicy quote at all costs when it is shouted at them. The second group is the “think of the children” people. Apparently a newspaper, one that publishes stories about sex tips, rapists, sexual offenders, murders and other news, is a family paper and kids shouldn’t be subjected to “cock.” By the way, this is the homepage of the newspaper.

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So thats cool I guess. Suicide? Check. Domestic violence? Check. Rape? Check. Genetically predisposed to being pessimistic? Check. But a quote in a blog about a a guys dong? Apparently that crosses the line of what children should be subjected to.

But apparently the Mercury News, the above angry Sharks media outlet, had no issues talking about Brent Burns celebrating by getting naked in their article.

So what is the moral really? That the NHL is so boring that people will take something fun and devolve it into a cry-fest about journalist ethics. I never went to journalism school, but if I ask a question and get an answer from a guy who clearly wants me to know his opinion, I’m probably going to publish it. Imagine if this same “locker room” talk principal applied to when teams trash talk the other teams. Had Thornton shouted at the media something about the “Sedin sisters” or “Cindy Crysby” it would be published even though apparently it could technically be “locker room talk.”

This shows just how much NHL fans want to know what their players are like behind the scenes. How hungry people are for an unfiltered look into their favourite teams.  This is why 24/7, Oil Change, and Behind the B have been so well recieved.  Look at the NFL with Hard Knocks or even the WWE with Total Divas.

Something like this gets reported and forgot about in other sports as quickly as it was said. In the NHL? Its a big story and a call to arms to end all evidence of player personality.

Wut iz Social Technographics Profile?

Source material: groundswell by Li C., Bernoff, J

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Social technographics profile? No, unfortunately this doesn’t refer to Aviici or Daft Punk or your every day rave. It refers to… how to classify your social media participators.  Still actually pretty cool, just without the lights and smoke machines and ear-bleeding base beats.

Quickly, the “social” refers to the people-to-people (P2P) activities in the groundswell. “Technographics” is all about Forrester Research’s methodology for surveying customers. Basically, demographics and psychographics of technology users.  The model serves to separate your consumers into groups. Once you can separate people into useful classifications, relative to how loosely or tightly based they are, it becomes easier to target your efforts towards them. Not unlike data mining.

There are 7 classifications defined by groundswell:

  1. Creators who make up social content on the go. Writing blogs, making videos or vlogs, taking/posting pictures.
  2. Conversationalist are the people who use social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and are frequently updating their status and posting tweets/retweeting.
  3. Critics are people who make responses to other people’s content. Such as commenting on a blog or posting in the comments section of YouTube.
  4. Collectors  organize content for themselves or others either by updating RSS feeds or voting for stories on news sites or other sites like Reddit and Digg.
  5. Joiners these people are similar to the conversationalist in that they use and maintain social media profiles and have active profiles, but are much less frequent about posting.
  6. Spectators are people who consume and use what others produce online such as watching YouTube, reading blogs and other user generated content.
  7. Inactives are people who do not interact at all with social media or social technologies.

These classifications are fine, but the real power of the Social Technographics Profile is that it can help you understand how, which, what, why, and who is using specific social technologies and medias.  This information makes it easier when creating an appropriate social strategy.

One very good example of this is the Edmonton Oilers website. They play in Canada and are beloved by “Oil Country”.  Now think about Edmonton/northern Alberta  or “Oil Country”. A whole lot of oil workers, generally males, and most of these oil workers are under the age of 35.  What type of ads are running on the Oilers site? Credit cards (have more money… sorta!), Ford trucks (get that jacked up rig and fit in with all your buddies!) and ads for other “toys” that are quite expensive but are still material.  Also, the content is team stuff, team stuff and team stuff. Then, a little bit about the Octane girls. and the glory days. Fits right in with the oil workers up north and the general demographic of Oiler fans and what their interests are. Most of these guys, especially the workers, are spectators or joiners.

I mean, just look at this. Personification of North of Red Deer, and the NHL knows it.

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Compare that site with the Vancouver Canucks website. The content is different. You get the same Visa ad but then the next ad (that I found through 15 refreshes) was about the finest cheese! Creme da le creme! OKA cheese! Cheese goes with wine and BC is wine country, plus I know from personal experience just how much B.C. people from the Okanogan all the way to the coast love their wine. But the content is also different on the home page. It is primarily community involvement and how you can get involved in all these great causes just like the team. Compare that with the more general “green” attitude of British Columbia, especially the Lower Mainland, and it fits with their demographic. Then along the bottom it is user generated content from Canucks fans! If I were to throw a knowledgeable guess out there, based on living in both places, your people in Vancouver are probably higher up in the Social Technographics Profile in comparison to your people in Edmonton.

Also, nothing seems specifically tailored to either gender on the Canucks’ site, while, to me at least, I just feel the Oilers’ site is aimed more at men.

This works across all markets and all products too. For instance, if you can effectively corner a segment of retirees and older adults (who tend to have more money, empty nest and all that) then there is great potential there for marketing.  Facebook ads man. Older people generally tend to be less desensitized to advertisements, especially online, than younger people. My mom clicks on more Facebook ads intentionally than I do accidentally.

Want ladies? Make a Pinterest page. Seriously, look at that.

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74-36 guy/girl split a year ago. And Pinterest at least involves most of the users to the collector level, if not higher.

Quickly, translating this to video games (the initial point of this entire blog project), ever wonder why video games are targeted towards Americans? Probably because of thisthisthisthis and this. First, those sites generally all involve critics and conversationalists as well as some level of creationist. Secondly, Those traffic numbers are basically the only argument needed any time someone asks the afformention question. They have learned their audience.

Its just something to keep in mind. Most people know to ‘know’ their audience, but with social media its thrown a bit of a wrench in some things with companies only producing content that don’t take advantage of potential that the one-to-many or the many-to-many has. Find who you are “talking” to and give them something to make conversation.

Authors note: This was originally posted on my backup blog adamv2.wordpress.com