Game Critics, by videogamedunkey
Speak Like a Human: Friendly, self-deprecating, human tone Grateful for the suggestions/criticism. No jargon.
Win/Win: Determine what Win will give the swarm to let them feel like they’ve “won” in some sense
Avoid a Public Battle: Move the conservation offline
Right the Wrongs: Don’t let errors stand in Google’s cache forever
Make Friends: Email specific combatants and invite them to continue suggestions; perhaps allow them to join an advisory panel
Take the first letter of each tactic and you’ve got the anagram for the SWARM tactics that Tod Maffin described. It’s a rather safe set of evasive tactics for dealing with problems and problematic customers, but somehow, always pandering to the customer seems to rub me the wrong way. While the customer may always be right, and that you don’t want to be driving away the consumers of your content, it feels rather cheap to prioritize profits. I’m aware that my thinking is rather wishful, and in a business, wishful thinking won’t get you profits.
The idea of customer engagement being conversations with people rather than at them, doesn’t seem quite right either. There are some people out there, and especially on the Internet, that you don’t really want to be dealing with if it wasn’t for the money they spend/could potentially spend on your product. While SWARM is a good strategy, it’s not the be all, end all of strategies.
I follow a twitch streamer called WinterGaming, who plays StarCraft 2 at a competitive level. And boy, do SWARM tactics not describe him at all. He will insult you, shut you down if you’re being combative, or ban you from his chat. But people find his personality hilarious, and I’m inclined to agree. That’s mainly how he gets and maintains his following. Sure, Winter (the streamer) may have a completely different platform and dynamic, but that doesn’t mean you have to play nice all the time.
Especially if people are being dicks on the Internet.
Brand storytelling describes a brand’s vision as a cohesive and persisting narrative. It goes to describe what kind of background the brand has, and what their values are. The key point in storytelling, is how you get your message across. This as I understand it to be, can mean just about anything from promotional videos, advertisement marketing campaigns, or a spokesperson who represents the brand as a whole. If we look at the Old Spice commercials with Terry Crews, we can see him as the face of Old Spice. Someone who, when you first think of the brand, will immediately think of when trying to relate to the associated brand. Given how bombastic they had Terry Crews portray his character, it served to leave a very strong impression on the viewers.
This can extend to slogans as well, such as McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It”, was a brand message to promote to their consumers that at the end of the day, their goal was to make their consumer happy, that they were worth it. In an oversaturated market of competition, having distinguishing features or these brand stories to tell, set the brands apart from the rest of the competition (whether in a good way or a bad one). The end goal, is ultimately to create more traction for the brand, so that more consumers become more engaged and become more loyal consumers. In part, the consumers who buy into the brand become part of the brand story, and continue to perpetuate it when the situation calls.
My mission statement can be narrowed down to four words: Game design as Education. A way for me to connect with my audience of gamers (and those interested in games) by analyzing relatable scenarios and otherwise ignored design aspects in games. The topic of games is broad, making it rather difficult to just narrow down on just “design” as a concept. Rather, design becomes the underlying theme of the blog and its content, while the topics addressed in the blog broaches the many different aspects of games, like sound effects, art, voicework, level creation, music, gameplay, narrative, I could go on.
There’s no specific way I can use the knowledge of who my audience, metrics, and analytics are at the moment, as I don’t have enough of each category to make informed decisions. So the goal for right now is to focus on expanding my field of reach, and see if I can tap into the audience I’ve envisioned myself to have.
I’ve talked about this before, about the origins of the blog’s background. It was something I drew for my blog because the requirements for my Publishing 101 course needed me to have visuals.
Okay you probably wanted the creative process behind it, fine.
The background image is meant to be an old arcade machine, with joysticks and buttons. In the center where the arcade screen is, is where the content of my site is nested. As for the floral motif and the cogwheels, it was meant to represent “Aesthetics over Mechanics”, where the beautiful visuals are being supported by the hardware working behind the scenes.
It also serves to represent the game design that is hidden beneath the seamless gameplay. How certain design choices help create a smooth and immersive experience without the player noticing. These design choices are essential and serve as the biggest focus for this blog’s content:
The Mechanics under the Aesthetics.
My target community is players in the gaming community. It may seem a little ambitious to target the gaming community, but it’s simply a drop in the bucket when it comes to the end goal. And that end goal, is to target not just adolescents and young adults, but also those in the work force and retirement. In other words, people who may not have a vested interest in games at all.
Targeting the gaming community is an easier task that the aforementioned. People have already defined what they like, and simply have to have their horizons broadened. That’s not to say that I’m a leading authority, a be all end all, but there is always something out there that can appeal to different kinds of gamers. Most of the time, people who play the games they do, don’t overthink the things that are presented in front of them. That’s because the game was designed to be so seamless, that the game is an immersive experience. By teaching them what makes a seamless experience, they can come to appreciate the effort that goes into doing so.
Or simply eliciting a “hey, that’s pretty cool.”
The real challenge, is targeting the people who claim they have no time, or have no interest in games. Which is for a fact, bullshit. You can have time if you make time for it. So by talking to this demographic, I can come to a better understanding of what appeals to them, and how I can get my foot in the doorway.
Let’s talk about Todd Maffin’s How Google Killed My Startup, an eerie reminder of the competition that arise, and why it’s so pertinent to know the field you’re entering into.
Now, I think the idea behind the startup was ambitious. Making a paid service for essentially what would be, a glorified game walkthrough. The immediate problem right off the bat, is that if you knew any game with any remote semblance of a following, you’d know that there are people out there who are passionate about what they play, and will make comprehensive wikis and walkthroughs in their spare time out of sheer passion.
Saying that Google killed your startup is overexaggerating a little. If there was ever a problem like what Todd Maffin had brought up in his idea pitch, players would just consult a wiki. They would ask the gaming community; other players in the game and in the forums to strategize and share information.
“None of which the game really tells you how to do. You’ve got to figure it out for yourself. That can take dozens of hours to get it right.” – Todd Maffin
Those dozens of hours trying to get it right was a sense of accomplishment for gamers. They would tough it out, for the sake of playing the game, rather than a walkthrough handing you the solution on a silver platter. To me, that feels more like an insult.
YouTube Gaming was just a cherry on top.
YouTube was already a proliferation platform for gamers to share things about their favorite games, just for the sake of sharing. Some became streamers and played games without a walkthrough, that could be considered a walkthrough if you watched them play. Sure, it may not be the most professional. It may not be the most in-depth. But really, what mattered the most was that it was relatable. The people making these wikis, walkthroughs, and videos, were other passionate players just like you. It was just a poor understanding of the market, and the audience to whom they wanted to address.
I still can’t define what my professional self is, even if you asked me after all this time. But if there’s anything I learned, it would be that identifying and understanding who my audience is, is who my professional self has to understand.
Look at Alex Boutilier’s article on how video game companies collect data from you.
Data collection is a very important aspect not only in my blog, but in the video game industry. Let’s look at some of the data mentioned in the article, and address them point by point.
- The unique identity of the gaming console – Knowing this, we know which platforms to focus on, and what genres to put in said platform
- Internet provider – Could Ubisoft possibly pair some of their products with certain Internet Providers? What kind of speeds do that they have, and need to support alongside Ubisoft’s products?
- Dates and times spent playing Ubisoft games – This can easily be used to track gaming habits and how frequent certain kinds of games are being played.
- Game scores, metrics and statistics – What are people doing? What are players focusing on, getting better at, spending their time on, etcetera. Ubisoft can design more gameplay that can revolve around these metrics.
- How much money is spent in-game – What kind of content are people willing to pay for, and how they can market similar products to these players.
All this data that is being collected seems trivial and insignificant to the players, but can prove to be more of a gold mine of information for game companies. With more information, video game companies can adopt better monetization strategies so that they can profit more, and use those profits to make better games.
Your first question might be, “well why do I need a game console? I don’t want one/am a PC gamer”. But what you don’t understand, is the realm of possibility that unlocks if you do decide to get a console. Despite starting off with Nintendo’s Nintendo 64 and transitioning to a PC gamer, I never really thought I would invest in a gaming console. With the advent of Steam and various other websites dedicated to finding when games are discounted, it’s a hard sell to want to justify the three hundred dollar initial investment for the console, and the sixty dollar price tag for following games. Being able to obtain games for a quarter or less of the retail price, and being able to play on hardware that surpasses what consoles are capable of, PC gaming is without a doubt, the apex of gaming to me.
So why do I own a Wii, a Wii U, a 3DS and a Playstation 4?
The simple answer to that, is console exclusives. You can’t get your Mario’s, your Halo’s, your Persona games, on PC. There’s a whole different environment that can be unlocked through console gaming. And games provided by Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony each have something unique that they bring to the table, that no other competitor really has over one another. So how does one choose? It’s simpler than you’d think.
Let’s start with the most relatable, Nintendo. As I mentioned before, I grew up with Nintendo’s products, happily playing away at the Mario and Pokemon games without a care. But as everyone grows up, your values change, and suddenly they don’t really line up with Nintendo’s “family values”. You kind of start wanting to look elsewhere. But what does Nintendo do well? Well, Nintendo does “family values”, right. Almost all of their games focus around being able to play games in a family environment. Mario Kart, Mario Party, Wii Sports, Super Smash Bros., I could go on. The commonality with all these games is that anyone can pick them up and enjoy them. Great for entry-level gamers, like say your parents, grandparents, and younger audiences. In this sense, Nintendo has a pretty good market, because that kind of demographic is bigger than the amount of gamers who want something a little more serious than what Nintendo has to offer.
Moving over to Microsoft’s Xbox, this is an area where I’m not exactly fond of. Not entirely because of their reputation (I’m looking at you, EA), but because of the games they have to offer. Xbox is sort of the median between the three companies, where you get a sort of middle ground between gamers a little more serious than Nintendo’s audience, but not quite as much of a time investment as the RPGs that Sony has to offer, but that’s a matter of preference. I’m still familiar with what Xbox has to offer, which seems to fall into two categories: Sports games, and First-Person Shooter games (FPS). Not being a Sports or Shooting game fan, Microsoft immediately falls out of my strike zone, which is why I’m not too fond of them. But the nature of these two genres (games like Madden and Call of Duty) lends themselves to shorter game periods, with each game session/round lasting typically about thirty minutes per match. Makes it really easy to just have something more engaging in short bursts, which would appeal to people who don’t have a lot of time, but can still play without the investment of time. Microsoft also has one of the best multiplayer engagements, with their games often being the best at finding people around the world and matching you into a game. They also support voice chat, which lends itself to more toxic interactions. Something I’ll get into at a later date. My major gripe with Microsoft is that their games don’t have substantial enough depth to them to engage many demographics. Halo and Call of Duty never really spoke to me in the way that Shin Megami Tensei, The Witcher, or Nier games have.
Finally, onto my favorite, Sony’s Playstation. Sony manages to hit all of the things I’m looking for in one go, and does it spectacularly. Sony’s games typically fall under the Singleplayer RPG genre, and since Sony is a Japanese company, they have some of the best RPGs I could ever ask for. RPGs are sort of like an engrossing fantasy novel; sprawling worlds, engaging storytelling, lovable characters, and because it’s a game, gameplay that is engaging for hours. Games have taught me many things over the years. Made me think about my actions, question my morals, or taught me values I never thought I’d consider. This is something I’ve found that Microsoft (and at least most Nintendo games) have never achieved for me. With many games starting at twenty hours of gameplay to around a hundred, I’m definitely getting the bang for my buck here. It’s more of an investment of time, as you don’t read a book in thirty minutes and just be done. It’s something you enjoy over a long period of time, perhaps over a nice cup of tea. And because the RPG genre is so vast, it also encompasses many other genres such as the Shooter genre, so I’m not really missing out from Microsoft. But since these games seem to be rather intense or lengthy to some, it make come off as intimidating to newcomers. As interesting series as Dark Souls is, it may not serve as a very good introduction to gaming to newcomers.
As you can see, each of these companies and consoles achieve difficult goals in their unique way, but none of them capture the essence of what the other does best. As a person who looks at games from a design aspect, I find this very interesting regarding how one would be able to incorporate all these great aspects into one game, essentially making it approachable to all demographics while having substantial depth to them. Is this possible? It might not be. It is a really ambitious of a task, and you can’t possibly hope to please everyone. Especially if you’re trying to do this alone. But certainly these are some of the steps needed to be looked at, that would certainly lead to some great games being made.
So with all of my personal bias in mind, I probably haven’t swayed your decision in the slightest. You might be even more confused. But by defining broad scopes of focus like this, it becomes easier to narrow down what people are interested in, and how I should design games for people. What’s your thoughts? Leave a comment below and let me know.
Farewell for now,
Insert Coin(s) to Continue
Paola’s site, Bongga Wear is a blog with a focus on plus-size fashion. At first glance, the blog seems to take on a very simplistic stance. The blog seems to consist of the white of the background, the highlights of blue on the top and bottom, and the grey text on the background. As with the previous Peer Review of Bongga Wear, I would also suggest that a little more color be incorporated into the blog to lend the blog a more personable feel, as there isn’t a particular element that stands out about the blog.
Going into the social media aspects of the blog, there doesn’t seem to be much in terms of representation for social media. There is a link to their Instagram, but only the promotional video for the website resides on what is otherwise a barren platform. As mentioned in class, there is something about landing upon an empty page that doesn’t convey a very good impression of social media presence. Branching out and using one’s own Facebook can help provide some traction for social media presence, as well as adopt an audience who would be able to give open feedback. But if the decision to stick solely to Instagram is the choice, then consistent content being posted, the advocating of said Instagram to other social medias and/or social circles may be ideal.
The only other topic of note from the previous Peer Review would be to provide more engagement with Bongga Wear’s audience in order to grow a following. There aren’t necessarily any new challenges that the site faces that doesn’t already present itself. The parting piece of advice would be to follow the suggestions made in the previous paragraph and focus on a more social media-oriented approach.
If you’d like to check out Paola’s site on plus-size fashion, you can visit her at http://www.bonngawear.com