Below is a preview of a quippy little “owner’s overview” I created for a Tech Writing job application. Thought you guys might like it while I research my next serious blog entry. The viewer is just a preview…the download link to view in hi-res is below it. Enjoy!
Seriously, Nintendo, WAKE UP.
The hot topic in the gaming industry seems to be the ill fortunes of one of the industry’s once upon a time heaviest hitters and its seemingly geriatric-orientated solutions to drum up revenue that would do a better job of putting gamers to sleep than sleepy time tea.
There isn’t a happy memory in my childhood that doesn’t surround the adventures I had alongside Yoshi and Mario or even ripping some dude’s heart out on Mortal Kombat. I remember working hard to pump out the homework assignments to earn my ticket to an evening chockfull of the horrors and suspenseful jumps that awaited in Resident Evil (because yes, I was the GOOD kid that took the time to actually DO my homework first vice blowing it off).
Over the years I’ve still maintained my affair with Nintendo. Xboxes come and PS2/3/4s go. But Nintendo seems to always be there…good ol’ reliable Nintendo.
Maybe that’s the problem. Where technology and advances in gaming both in terms of visual aesthetics and interactivity are evident in the current generation of console gaming, Nintendo games haven’t seemed to change. I’d like to think that’s a good thing. When I play Mario, I’m more concerned about the challenge of the puzzles I’m forced to solve to wade through the end of a level into a castle where a fungus-y friend awaits to tell me the damn princess is in another castle; this over the cinematic one-upmanship that dominates the titles swimming in the libraries of both PlayStation and Xbox.
But in console wars of late, Nintendo has been lagging to the detriment of its bottom line. It took FOREVER for people to pick up on 3DS handhelds and even longer to embrace Wii U.
Let’s take a look at some of the past issues and future challenges that Nintendo must come to terms with if its to survive and continue giving future generations the same joy I had growing up when I finally finished that last annoying essay or pre-cal problem blocking my path to sheer 8 or 16-bit bliss.
Is it or Isn’t it a new system
As decades-old Nintendo customer, even I scratched my head at the Wii U when it first came out. I honestly couldn’t make sense of it. I set up the Wii U right next to the previous Wii console I had and turned my head feeling kind of duped. The only thing I had to show for the fact that I had bought a new system was the touchscreen GamePad that came with the U, and a controller similar to the generation of Wii controllers that had preceded it. So similar in fact you could use the exact same controllers from your old Wii and use them on the Wii U adding to the confusion.
But apparently I wasn’t the only person to have the same conflicting feelings about the two systems.
I’m just going to say flat out: the name choice was AWFUL.
I mean, would Wii 2 have been so bad? Wii Touch? Something that when first reading the name would have clued people in that this is indeed an entirely new system.
Take one last moment to really consider why this was a problem.
Imagine a society where we are used to electronics being upgraded every so often where the naming of said device or system is so vital that any non-distinction could be met with downturn sales or an apathetic response from consumers. iPhone 5 users weren’t exactly rushing to the stores to get the newer 5s because they knew it wasn’t an entirely new phone from what they had. However they did know and feel the difference between an iPhone 4 and a 5. The naming distinction is subtle, yes, but so pronounced that people could assess the difference between 4 and 5. The same could be said between Kindle and Kindle Fire, Xbox and Xbox 360, PS2 and PS3. But it wasn’t just the difference in names, the hardware itself is distinctive.
Again, as an owner of both Wiis, it’s annoying that the only thing really different between the systems is the touch screen controller, as previously mentioned.
Ok, this horse is officially beaten and dead – the poor guy.
For awhile Nintendo seemed to slowly but surely be recovering from the launch confusion with some really great titles like the well received Super Mario World 3D. But the problem with resting on your laurels (especially ones that have existed since the 1980s) is that the cushion on said laurel loses its elasticity and the butt print from the 800-lb gorilla becomes permanent. Thus the current troubles Nintendo finds itself in.
This town needs an enema!
What Wii U needs is an image makeover, one where it severs itself from its previous iteration (much like its controller design) and fully embraces the entirety of the Nintendo family.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned with venturing out and exploring the corporate world is that you have to start with what you know.
We know that there are Wii owners and 3DS owners. Two completely different systems that make complete and total sense to bring together. Mistake the first for Wii U was that Nintendo did NOT bring these two groups of consumers together. In fact, Nintendo wasted money on developing a touchscreen GamePad that would act as the main controller for Wii U. WHY? 3DS would have made more sense. Current owners of the 3DS would find the easiest transition to upgrading or buying into the Wii U so then the remaining challenge would be to get current Wii owners to become owners of BOTH the 3DS and the Wii U.
Thankfully stores like Gamestop work with Nintendo to offer bundle set-ups that would have brought the pricing down for both. But the marketing emphasis would focus on the fact that one could get a Wii U AND an accompanying 3DS for STILL less the price of a single PS4 or Xbox One.
The sad part of this suggestion is this is where people THOUGHT Nintendo was going and when it was evident that wasn’t the case, competitors swooped in and took advantage: PS4 owners who also own a Vita can enjoy the very marriage of systems Nintendo shirked when it decided to make a new touchscreen controller vice incorporating the 3DS.
Once everyone is brought up to speed and in the happy world of dual Wii U-3DS ownership, the next step would be to create an atmosphere conducive to the interconnectivity between the handheld system and the main system. Thankfully Nintendo already has said system in place.
As Scott Stein on CNET points out, the Virtual Console service can serve as the link between worlds (pun intended). As Stein suggests:
Nintendo should also open up tons of those old Virtual Console games — and more — to a subscription-based monthly gaming service. It doesn’t need the latest hits, or even the last few consoles. Just put the really back-catalog stuff on there. You know, like Netflix. Or, more to the point, like Sony is doing with PlayStation Plus. That service — which costs $50 a year, or about $4 per month — is quickly becoming one of the best values in gaming.
By “Netflixing” their catalogs, customers can enjoy the amazing offerings from the history of Nintendo on both systems using the 3DS as the controller for the Wii U and still be able to take the 3DS and enjoy the games while on travel.
And moving beyond that just imagine what would happen when Wii U games become 3DS games and vice versa. The current catalog increases to such an amazing number that the minds of title-hungry gamers would figuratively explode.
And with the mobility of 3DS think of another market that can take advantage of the Virtual Console. That market in which Nintendo up to this point has forsaken: mobile. In the way that iPhone and Apple TV can interact, so too can apps be created on iOS and Android systems that enable people to achieve the same effect with Wii U. I’m not saying give full mobile control over the Wii U system in the same way I’m suggesting they do it with the 3DS, but hey, increasing customer numbers at this point couldn’t hurt Nintendo. Besides, I’ve always thought Nintendo to be a tad closed minded to shirk its nose at the mobile market. And I want to play Mortal Kombat on my iPhone and iPad dagummit!
Gamification of the Mii-verse
Of course what is the melding of systems and differing consumer markets without the gamification of such ownership for all users. Under the umbrella of the Mii-verse, Nintendo can create a truly innovative social system that rewards social interactions as well as gameplay on the home system as well as on the go. Continue to imagine that 3DS accepting StreetPass invites taking those invites home to the Wii U and now StreetPassers on the 3DS system become friends on the Wii U. If Nintendo games are best enjoyed with multiple players then lets make it easier to add people to the friend lists when not at home accessing the home system.
StreetPassers already enjoy rewards for their social interactions and so too do Mii-verse users on the Wii systems. Again, combining the worlds to create one big one will only encourage Nintendo customers to buy into multiple systems vice just one or the other. I mean if Google can shove G+ down our throats with all of its services, no reason to think Nintendo can’t be successful doing the same thing – and people actually LIKE Nintendo, I don’t think unifying the social system between gaming consoles would change that.
And lastly, this would be yet another opportunity to connect system owners with the mobile market, as pointed out by Wired’s Chris Cohler. The gateway entrance would be characterized by a dual-purpose social and storefront experience that allows people to shop, share and communicate about things Nintendo.
Whatever Nintendo decides to do at this point it has to realize that the only reason its still afloat is because people LOVE Nintendo, but we don’t love the direction its taking to compartmentalizing all its offerings. The current trend in gaming is to create an EXPERIENCE. And sometimes that experience is away from home.
The old school way of doing business is, well…old. So I repeat: WAKE UP Nintendo! Put some caffeine in an IV bag, each a power mushroom and hold the B button while moving forward. Seriously, get some energy.
Tom asks, and so shall he receive. Over on the Evolve PR twitter feed, the following question was posed:
How can video game PR improve in 2014? We want your feedback! http://t.co/f1wePSIwBg
— Evolve PR (@evolve_pr) January 7, 2014
For those who don’t know, Evolve is one of the top PR firms whose focus is on video game developers and their titles.
I started thinking about what trends I enjoyed from last year that I think will increase exponentially in 2014. In addition to traditional marketing and promotional practices, there are a few things to consider when trying to increase your awesome with regards to Tom’s question on Twitter.
Diving into the world of the kickstarter:
Last year was a big year for crowdfunding. Through services like (but not limited to) Kickstarter and GoFundMe, developers of all kinds were able jump start production on projects that likely would have never seen the light of day through traditional corporate funding
pleas drives. I mean, hell, VERONICA MARS is being made into a movie through such means. But even Forbes reports that the popularity and power of crowdfunding is likely going to continue and increase in 2014.
For a PR firm whose focus is video games, increasing awareness of fundraising efforts not just for client titles, but ANYTHING in the gaming industry you like is an opportunity to boost street cred. One who becomes a champion of supporting the gaming community as a whole will likely garner closer and more meaningful relationships with clients in the long run when the client sees the people behind the firm care about what affects the community.
For client titles, award genuinely lasting rewards for tier levels to include credits, tangible items, and one-on-one interactions. Most Kickstarter projects offer these things, however these are often the responsibility of the developers. Combine such offerings with the representing firm to increase award pool at earlier tiers which equates to a more memorable investment experience. For a title in the fundraising stage, the combined efforts of developer and firm will increase likelihood of seeing the game into fruition.
Lastly inviting those who pledge to share their experiences by stimulating and moderating an online conversation via social media means people can communicate through the firm their ideas, anticipations and curiosities in front of worldwide audience with the intention of garnering increased awareness (especially if you do something in the ballpark of a Twitter hashtag town hall-esque kind of conversation).
Making a splash through live video media:
Increase presence on video streaming services like Twitch. YouTube is excellent for trailers and most play-throughs. However, people want to make a connection with their gaming experience. That connection is stimulated through interactions with people and not just the content.
A regularly scheduled Twitch stream allows you to preview client content in addition to general gaming content (again, supporting the community). The key is to show ALL forms of gaming and to allow you to talk about it. People feel better about their decisions when other people state their opinions about something whether they agree with it or not – this has been a founding principle for critical review of any kind for as long as people have had the freedom to express such opinion. Also, when gamers see a REAL PERSON playing through a game they can instantly connect to it, especially if that person running the live stream is vocal and answering questions coming from the channel viewers.
Live programming also gives you the opportunity to put the developer in front of potential customers to ask questions and share concerns or build expectations.
The trick would simply be gaining viewership, which can be accomplished through normal promotional and incentivized means which is something a PR firm should be well versed in.
Increasing Post Launch Information:
For AAA titles, it’s pretty clear that people often want to see how their game is doing. They refer to the gaming media for this information, which is good for objective statistical numbers reporting.
With clients you often provide this service through research, sales tracking, etc and offer the results through meetings and conference calls. All run-of-the-mill procedural stuff as one would expect. Why not expand that information sharing to the community as a whole, but most especially with the people you likely spent months trying to engage to purchase said titles?
I can say as a gamer, and especially as one who watches for fun, cool, and/or quirky indie titles if I end up buying and completing a game I like I often want to know how it did. Performance results to a customer means that they’ll likely see further content to the game (some games are all about the DLC) or other content from the developer.
The point is transparency to potential consumers in development and promotion should also extend to the post-launch analysis when said potential consumers become actual ones.
The overall theme to these suggestions is truly embracing the image as champions of the gaming industry. PR professionals are expected to promote and sell, but they are people just as well. The gaming community bonds through its likes and dislikes and to sell to them means you have to share yours as well. You are not just selling to them, you’re bonding with them. And in the digital age, that bond is as strong as oak.
If one were to explore the idea that playing video games means an opportunity to interact with character(s) or an avatar that represents who we imagine ourselves to be in the world of the fantastic and unattainable, then one would be remiss if he or she thought such connection didn’t extend into the real world. Thus, it becomes a powerful tool if you can connect with such people on their level, customer and client alike. Community managers and superstar influencers (especially the ones who put themselves on camera or lend a voice to popular gaming podcasts) are what REALLY sell games these days – so why not become an influencer or gaming industry hero yourself?
Happy New Year!
In this first post of twenty-14, I’ve decided to display an infographic I made to send to Blizzard to aid in a decision to hire me.
Flow charts! Who doesn’t love them? As much as they are visually appealing, they are a HUGE P.I.T.A. to assemble. The last one I made was awhile ago when I was finishing up school and I swore I’d never make another one. Never say never, I suppose, ha! Alas, my Warcraft-themed flow chart should at least raise an eyebrow (in a good way — I hope).
What’s unknown to a lot of people is that I interviewed with their PR team last month for a position (decision pending and forthcoming sometime after the holiday season is but a memory). I’ve harbored a dream of working for the company for YEARS and several times during my Navy career I stopped and told myself, “If I only had my degree and I wasn’t in the Navy I would take a position in a HEARTBEAT if they offered.”
Well, my enlistment contract is quickly drawing to an end (terminal leave starting in two months time) and I have my degree. Nothing is holding me back save for an actual offer.
The realist in me knows not to bank everything on this one opportunity. There are quite a few opportunities with other equally great companies on the horizon.
Which leads me to my only resolution for the new year:
I resolve to not inhibit myself from going for what I want and will, through determination, strive to achieve the goals I set out for myself with regards to gaining and sustaining employment at a great place.
I may not know where I will end up in 2014, but I know that it’s going to be an interesting ride.
UPDATE Jan. 17, 2014 20:22 PST:
So I did not end up getting the position. I happen to know personally the guy who did, and it was well-deserved. Blizzard hired internally, and I firmly respect that decision. It’s a quality I look for in an employer, in fact — hiring from within. One day it will be my turn, but until then I wish them the best in their decision.
It all started with a tweet.
Justine Sacco, communications director for IAC (former, now) , conglomerate in charge of such sites as Match.com and Dictionary.com sent out the following tweet prior to boarding a several-hour long flight to Cape Town, South Africa:
Sunk in yet? Rooted in place? OK…
What we have here is a real lesson in several areas. Now that the dust has somewhat settled, let’s break it down in a few of those areas.
Lesson the first: Once again we see what happens when you, for one moment, underestimate the power of social media
Twice in the last week we have seen people take to social media to vent their frustrations for perceived slights.
The first came to us in the form of the Facebook storm that pitted fans of Duck Dynasty‘s patriarch, Phil Robertson against, well, everyone else. The cultural divide delved deeper than fans of the show and non-fans. In the wake of the digital battle of Gay-tysburg where religious zealots who decry Robertson was robbed of first amendment rights and the lefties who decried Robertson overstepped his bounds when he spoke in direct contradiction of the more accepting philosophies of his employer, A&E (particularly those on homosexuality which always seems to be the most inflammatory of subjects), the online battlefield was rife with equal parts savior, vitriol and inspirational messages of acceptance. It’s a wonder that any sense could be made of Robertson’s situation with the back and forth of a figurative flaming tennis ball on the court, but in the end, I believe it was John Stewart (always the moral compass I find myself agreeing with more often than not) who summed it up best:
“I think the guy said a zinger…But I also have an inclination to support a world where saying ignorant shit on television doesn’t get you kicked off that medium.”
The TL;DR is that A&E knew what they signed up for with Robertson and his tribe of Cabela’s toting NRA poster children and when one spoke out of line, they should have opened a dialogue instead of unceremoniously kicking him to the curb Paula Deen-style (remember THAT mess?).
But there have been some GEMS on both sides of the argument: for and against Robertson, and moreover, his supporters…I prefer reading the more thought-out arguments on both sides because it’s more interesting when intellectuals debate. Some people like UFC fighters in a cage, I prefer smarties with the written word.
And just when people were starting to entertain the idea of moving on from Robertson’s ejection from Duck Dynasty, Friday night happened. And from what I presume to be the result of checking every girl-gone-wild bucket list item in that Katy Perry song, Justine Sacco gave the gift of her misunderstood humor to the Twitterverse.
And when at first I was willing to write off Saccogate as the transgressions of a careless Twitter account holder who was the victim of cybercrime and a hacked account, I soon found myself writing her off as someone who simply tried to be funny in a public forum and it failed when both the context and the humor was misunderstood and misperceived.
Because, as much as we’d like (and some did) to call her an ignorant girl (again, some saying as much using much meaner words), the realist and humanist in me would like to think she was simply someone who tried to tell a joke and failed miserably.
When a comedian tells a bad joke, people tend to be silent, and if it’s a REALLY bad joke, people will boo, and if it’s downright offensive they’ll throw things.
The problem people have with Sacco’s “joke” is that even if people could wrap their minds around it actually being a joke, they begin to question or debate the source from where such a joke would originate. So ensues an often reignited battle of both class and race.
Wherein the previous week we saw the progressives defending the homosexual community against Phil Robertson and his army of followers (and yes, I strategically use the word “army”), with Sacco’s tweet we saw the the mob transform. Such transformation is both amazing and frightening as a flock of birds flying so spectacularly in formation changing direction in unison as the winds change. But never once do so many birds maintain the same formation. They change direction and what was once a V is now an oval. The mentality of the Twitterati is much and the same.
The point is people EVISCERATED Sacco before her plane even landed (I think the trending topic on Twitter puts the proof in the pudding, #hasjustinelandedyet) without so much as an explanation. What if she indeed had been hacked? Would that have changed the expedient manner in which the digital mob had made up its mind?
Lesson the second: The masses of social media users will often make up their mind without proof or evidence based on their experiences, background, associations, and upbringings.
In the past, when people judged a person based on their behavior, demeanor, style of clothing, or communication skills (or lack of any of the above) it was often easy to associate, cast off, or ignore people completely based on those judgements. The high school lunchroom was the first place we often saw this principle in motion. Segregation at its finest based on a number of factors. But such segregation was on a small scale. It was simply people around us. Can you imagine what kids have to go through these days. Their lunchroom no longer has 200-300 of their classmates. Their lunchroom now has 20-30 million people their own age and then some making the same judgements, jokes and agreements about daily life occurrences. And come on, you KNOW that our minds are totally screwed up as teenagers. Everything is SUCH A BIG DEAL. But we get over it. Like the campaign of the same name, it gets better. Why? Because we move on. Well most of us. We get away from those people or they get away from us.
With social media, it’s different. There’s no getting away from anyone or anything might that we try because everything is connected. Unless we move to some remote island and left behind every single piece of technology, we can’t escape the world. I mean, even on the island are you REALLY getting away? Google Maps satellite will still be able to display your coconut gathering and Tiki hut building to the world, enabling people to “like” or “share” what you’re doing.
The depressing sentiment is that because of technology, we are no longer able to drift away from the harsh politics of high school. We are no longer able to, well, grow up or face the music of our choices because if we say or do anything in the world, now, chances are there’s an association of people with a website, Twitterfeed and Facebook business page that can muster up support for or against those choices. We saw it just last week with the Phil Robertson debacle.
Lesson No. 3: Because we’re all connected, and because someone somewhere will be offended by what we say and do, we have to recognize that our personal life is different than our online one.
Sacco made a joke. Plain and simple. She didn’t think anyone would take it the wrong way, but they did. Did I? No, I didn’t. I got it. But that’s also because being a cynical and sarcastic person (much as I have been even when I was a kid and my favorite teacher in high school accused me as such — she wasn’t wrong and I loved her more for her honesty) I recognized Sacco’s effort. So what was I upset about?
Her lack of understanding.
I’m still new to the world of Public Relations, even in my 33 years the last ten of which have been in the Navy. Heck, I’m applying for jobs as we speak and most of them are junior role PR and Social Media positions. I have a lot to learn about the PR world. But one doesn’t have to be a senior person with years upon years of experience to see that what Sacco tweeted was stupid. But, therein lies the irony.
SACCO WAS A LEADER IN THE PR WORLD.
I mentioned this on PR Daily in their comments section, my feelings about the matter.
In the Navy, well, military in general, we leave no one behind. As teammates, shipmates, etc., we work to accomplish the mission AS A TEAM. As such, we are as it goes without saying, only as strong as our weakest link. We take each other’s mistakes and make them our own. We learn from those mistakes and when a team member makes one, we question ourselves as teammates and leaders to find where we failed that person.
Sacco wasn’t the only person who failed in her situation. We all did as PR professionals. It’s easy to poke a stick at her, make her the butt of this year’s holiday party jokes, and even make her a case study for future PR professionals in school, but the true challenge will be to accept her and teach her. One would hope that she attained the position as a DIRECTOR of communications at a large conglomerate because she’s indeed intelligent with the principles of investor and public relations as well as corporate and marketing communications. But who would have thought the younger cats like myself would have a few things to teach veterans like her about life in the social media age, or as my good friend and sociology doctorate holder Danny would remind me, in a social surveillance society.
Sacco learned the hard way what it’s like to live your life online. I’ve never met her, but I imagine her to be a spunky person. I like spunky. I have a few of those people in my life now. And each and every one of them are loving, caring and most importantly, ACCEPTING people. And a few of them have a sense of humor that can easily be misunderstood.
There’s been a lot of talk lately about free speech vs. consequence free speech. The truth is, we live in a great country where people can say whatever they want. They can voice their opinion, publish it, share it, LIVE it. But there is a difference between speaking your mind and saying shit that hurts people. One has to stop and think not of the legality of the speech, but of the moral purpose. Just because you CAN say something doesn’t always mean that you should. And the brilliant people in this world are those who can recognize the difference, even when in the moments they choose to speak they say something with which we do not agree. Phil Robertson might believe and speak to the fact that his faith dictates that I as a gay man will go to hell. And Justine may very well be a bloody awful joke teller. But there are times and places for such things and their dismissals from their jobs are the consequence of saying such things when they are suppose to represent the principles of their employers who pay them to either BE in the public eye or communicate with it. As this is their failure, so too, is it ours. It’s ours because we have allowed the social media realm to become an extension of the high school lunchroom.
There are a few guidelines I suppose need to be reiterated in order to trek through the lunchroom and survive without feeling like you’re in a never-ending power struggle that dominates a real high school lunchroom:
- Don’t VENT on social media when you’re pissed. Especially if what you’re venting about is work or family situations wherein real people are involved and could misunderstand what you’re saying in anger or be hurt by it. If you feel compelled to write it and share it with the world, then write it. But sleep on it or cool off before hitting the send button. And if you DO hit that send button, be PREPARED to defend it should people be equally compelled to confront you about it. Again I reiterate the difference between speaking freely and consequence-free speech where you can certainly do the former but the latter nearly does not exist.
- If you are going to call someone or a company out, do it politely and express your concern. Nowadays most people and companies are watching social media for customer service opportunities. Often calling them out on Twitter means you’ll receive much better and quicker attention which makes both sides happy (the company gets to show other people how they’re willing to help you and you get to benefit from that eagerness=win/win).
- If you’re going to joke on social media, be sure people know the context, or be prepared to explain it. Don’t joke (especially something you KNOW could be seen as offensive without context) and leave it at that and then board a 10-20-hour flight to another part of the world.
- If you’re a company or brand and your tweet/post, though honest in its intentions, goes wrong or is misunderstood, don’t remove it. It’s too late. Screencaps and the Meme-ers will keep it alive forever (and knowing Buzzfeed they’ll make a post rife with GIFs containing the most AWESOME reactions to it) and removing it makes you look desperate to please. Don’t look desperate. Own it. If it’s wrong or messed up, simply apologize and move on. People will too. TRUST ME.
- And along those same lines, if you make a tweet/post that’s awesome (for example) and a handful of people freak out or are offended by it. Apologize to THEM (probably individually and genuinely). Not to the world. And don’t remove the tweet/post. It makes you look weak. For the most part, people love a brand that stands by what it says and doesn’t change the message because a handful of people are offended. I know it’s hard to understand this, but the customer is not always right, and you really cannot please everyone.
These are the few BASIC social media PR principles. There are a ton of resources out there that afford people an opportunity to understand our world as we live it now online. But remember that often things get lost in translation from mind and voice to text online. If people cannot see your facial expressions or hear the tone and inflection in your voice to know you’re being (or trying to be) funny or sarcastic, chances are they won’t.
The final truth I end this post with is that I think social media is forcing us to be better people. It’s making us be smarter about what we say because as we saw with Phil and Justine, the consequences of what happens when expression becomes oblivious, even for just one moment, to the fact that such expression is online for the WORLD to see. Does that mean it’s not allowing or deterring us to be who we really are? In some ways yes, and in others, no. Yes in that now we are accountable to what we say; meaning, if it’s perceived as hateful or stupid, people will happily remind us as much. But no because we are now able to express ourselves on a global scale now, not just in our immediate environment. This allows for us to seek out and find those who share our ideals.
I just wish such expression was free from the judgmental antics of the high school lunchroom. I mean REALLY? Does that shit have to follow us long after we graduate?
Ah well…at least I ate lunch in Rm. 206 at Burges High. It was the journalism room. It wasn’t perfect (we had a caste system of editors and non-editors), but at least we got along. God I miss those guys.
Well it was bound to happen. YouTube, once a pioneer of online content creativity for even the most amateur of aspiring entertainers, vloggers, and journalists, seems to have grown too big for its own good.
Recently, the big why-tee (and indeed the question on most minds these days, why?) rolled out its Content ID system. Essentially it’s an automated scanner that probes all video content posted to YouTube analyzing it for possible copyrighted content owned by persons other than the content creator.
Seems simple enough, right?
Well, as with all things automated, there are a few traps in the system. Game reviewers, gaming community personalities, and multichannel content creators have been hit hard with the system, flagging their videos for copyright claims.
What do these claims mean?
When a video is flagged for a claim by a copyright holder, what happens is that any revenue from ads that run on the video or on the video’s page will be diverted from the creator of the video to the copyright claim holder. For the bigger gaming channels and personalities who have made such content creation a way of life, this could mean denial of revenue that equates to lost wages.
Recently, it has been reported that most game publishers like Ubisoft are dismissing the claims in support of the community that supports them.
How is this a problem if the companies whose copyrighted material is being displayed are dismissing the claims?
Let’s think of a video product like a cookie. You have flour, crisco, sugar, baking powder, chocolate chip morsels, etc. Each of these ingredients are combined to make a single product, a delicious chocolate chip cookie. YouTubers in the gaming community are making money eating those cookies for you and telling you what they think AND the company that made the cookie says that’s okay because they think it will make you buy the cookie to eat it yourself and possibly buy OTHER flavors of cookies.
But lo! What’s this…the maker of the chocolate chips that went into the cookie have decided, “Hey, you’re making money off our product that we licensed to the cookie maker. That’s not cool.”
So to better aid in the search for violators, YouTube made a chocolate chip scanner to find who has chocolate chips in their cookies and flagging them as such. You can still watch people eat the cookie, but now they can’t gain any revenue from the ads that surround the video of them shoving their face.
In essence, the current claimants for YouTube copyright violations (preceedingly known as the makers of the chocolate chip morsels) are music companies, mostly. A video is scanned and matched to YouTube’s, in the words of Kotaku, “copyright-o-tron” database and then if flagged, a message is sent to the content poster and the copyright holder. The problem with scanning is that the scanner is catching things that already have approved licenses to appear in the game being featured in a review video. Music in a video game, specifically. And if you think of games like Grand Theft Auto where a video playthrough will have music playing in the background that is a song by a popular artist, you can imagine the kinds of webs that are spinning here.
Naturally, the response to the Content ID system has been negative if only to speak to the fact that its catch-all system has been proven to be flawed and has already seen victims of mistaken claims. Mostly though, what seems to have people downtrodden is that this automated system seems to have no human oversight, despite the thousands of complaints seen on the internet.
And YouTube’s response couldn’t be more a more flippant “this is what we’re using, deal with it” attitude. Lest we forget this is the same attitude we saw from Microsoft’s Don Mattrick last summer at E3 (and we all know how much longer he lasted at Microsoft after THAT fiasco). Here’s YouTube’s response, courtesy of Kotaku:
Interesting to say the least.
One would be remiss to ignore the fact that Content ID exists simply to protect people’s rights to their creative property and YouTube’s survival instinct to protect itself from such claims. However, if one were to really look at the videos on YouTube no one is trying to steal someone else’s work and claiming it for themselves. Millions of people traffic the sight and it would be really obvious near instantly if someone even tried. And ad revenue is enough to keep content creators afloat but isn’t exactly raking in the dough. Hence why people are in an uproar and why YouTube’s attitude seems to be a kick in the nuts.
If this was the road YouTube was forced to travel, there are a number of ways to communicate that without seeming like a Mattrick-esque kind of jerk (though, Mattrick was blatant in his wording, YouTube by way of its public response seems to at least be using nice words — props to the PR team). Not to mention the fact that once again, like the Twitter-block debacle, you have a company trying to roll out changes to its services without duly WARNING people beforehand how they might be affected. Wired‘s Derek Powazek broke down what happened with Twitter and it seems that point-for-point the same could be applied to YouTube’s current Content ID situation.
Essentially, people notice changes like this right away, ESPECIALLY when once the system is in place all of a sudden videos years-old are being flagged out of nowhere. And most importantly, the system seems to hurt victims (in this case YouTubers) more than the copyright holders.
The easiest solution I can think of is to increase human oversight of Content ID to discern legitimate claims from bogus ones flagged by the system. It doesn’t take much to see a flagged video, CLICK ON THE LINK and ACTUALLY WATCH it to judge the content. Let the system do it’s job in identifying but let PEOPLE at YouTube first be the judge. This should alleviate the number claims needing to be processed and those undergoing review won’t waste the time or money of the people involved with the dispute.
What also needs to be re-examined is who has rights to particular parts of the cookie. Music plays in the background of a game that was approved to use it. The game, in essence, is an experience. That experience needs to be protected wholly, not in part(s). Otherwise there would be no limit as to who has a right to a claim. I mean, a video game featured by a reviewer was made using a particular software not owned by the game’s development company. Who’s to say that the software company doesn’t have a right to a claim? The game reviewer is wearing a shirt with an American Eagle logo. Who’s to say AE isn’t allowed to claim the video now because they contributed to the “costuming” aspect of the video.
The point is, why should music INCLUDED in that experience be seen as a separate entity? The fact is, it shouldn’t. If this were the case of someone making a new video to play on YouTube and decided to add a soundtrack of copyrighted music, that’s one thing and perfectly legit for a claim. But in this case, news reviews and critical reviews featuring content already approved for use within said experience should not be, plain and simple.
Right now, there seems to be no movement from YouTube other than its official response, and from what I’ve seen from all the game reviewers and broadcasters I’ve followed is that if that continues to be the case, they’ll find a new home. Case in point:
I’m not sure I’m encouraged to continue down this road with YouTube, if things don’t go well I will sever both @olr and personal videos.
— rob roberts (@skie) December 15, 2013
Some have even started barking up Twitch’s tree calling for an advent of the streaming service to become a true one-stop shop for the gaming community and its broadcasters. That would definitely be an interesting development if it came to fruition as it would open up competition to the video behemoth that is YouTube.
Either way, YouTube has to know that initiating policies and practices without warning and with little-to-no regard for the ultimate end user will result in an exodus and that could mean loss of revenue for not just it, but parent company Google. It needs to tread lightly in the coming days with regards to this issue. I assure you, this is not the last we’ll hear of it, and I’m sure other industries that participate in creating content on YouTube, and not just the video game industry, will have plenty to say when it starts to affect them just as well.
It’s no secret I’m in the Navy. I’m proud of that fact. I’ve served 10 years and will be concluding that service at the start of the Spring.
I’ve been a communicator my entire career and have always done what I can to ensure that what I’ve communicated and HOW I’ve communicated remained relevant and timely.
Let’s go back to a time, say, 2008. It was the year that changed the way society – not just in our great US of A, but all major power nations – communicated with each other by notably incorporating social media beyond personal use into the marketing and informational strategies of media agencies and corporations. The presidential election made excellent use of social media allowing users of Twitter and Facebook direct communication access to candidates as they campaigned for our nation’s future.
But in the advent of this technological advance, the military was working opposite to society, cutting off access to all social media services. What started with blocking MySpace and YouTube led to a figurative witch hunt of all websites that were considered social media so that they could subsequently be closed off. Such policies were attributed to the mere waste of man hours being lost to personnel using these services, to operational security risk concerns (probably the biggest reason of them all), as well as the strain on networks due to bandwidth issues for such sites as YouTube.
At a time when others were picking up on social media as a means of sharing stories, images, information, and opening a dialogue between target user and content creator, we as a military were working backwards.
One of my biggest accomplishments in the Navy was contributing to the reversal of the policy that prohibited social media services by demonstrating how they could be used effectively and in line with our civilian media counterparts. I, along with a team of joint military public affairs and journalism specialists from the Air Force and Marines, streamlined media and imagery release using Facebook and Flickr for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. We archived and organized visual content making it more accessible as we shared our communication efforts with the world – a system that is still in place exactly how I organized it.
Because of what we did as a team and the organization efforts I put into realigning their visual product releases, coupled with the efforts of those in similar situations at overseas commands not falling under U.S. Navy or military jurisdiction, we were able to demonstrate the power of social media and how the military would benefit from its incorporation into a communication strategy.
Because of my efforts I was awarded the Joint Service Commendation Medal and it was not long after I returned from Afghanistan and was gearing up to head to my next assignment in Bahrain that our work was cited as among the reasons the Navy was opening up access to social media services. It was an honor that I shared with my mentor and friend Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Monica Hopper. Twice over I have been tasked with creating and managing the online social content for Navy commands, which included U.S. 5th Fleet in Bahrain.
I share this so that one has a better understanding of where I’m coming from when I say I’ve worked hard to better understand social media, its uses, and how one can use it to reach his or her target audience more effectively. Such understanding comes with growing up with the technology, as well as using it in nearly every stage of its existence.
There is a delicate psychology that needs to be understood with it that some people today are still failing to understand. While that could be the subject of an entire blog itself, I’m going to focus on the media, specifically, Navy media and how it’s still falling short at effectively using social media. I guess I should disclaimer this with being my own opinion and perspective based on what I have observed and experienced throughout my career and in no way reflects that of my command or the US Navy as whole.
The Chief of Information’s senior enlisted adviser came to San Diego last fall and tasked us as Mass Communication Specialists (MC — the Navy’s enlisted media specialists) with finding new ways to share our story. He shared CHINFO’s dismay at how we as Navy communicators were constantly being outscooped by external media with sharing our story, be it positive or negative.
Well I can assuredly say I have witnessed at least one reason why that is. Because the commands for which he has no control develop policies that contradict his wishes as well as slow the process of sharing information. Which is ironic if you think about it considering the Navy’s public affairs doctrine specifically states full disclosure with minimal delay.
Let’s use a semi-real life example:
Currently, my command falls under a strike group. Because my command lacks an official 1650 (the job designator in the officer community that signifies Public Affairs Officer) we must vet our news and visual products through our strike group’s PAO. This is not unusual. The process of review and approval has been the norm for longer than even I have been alive on Earth (33 years last month, in case you’re curious).
So where is the issue? It lies within social media.
Before, I mentioned that there is a psychology behind how social media is used, viewed, understood and shared. Are you posting too much? Too detailed? Not frequently enough to be remembered? And in the case of Navy media, in a timely enough manner?
And therein lays the rub. Timeliness.
Continuing on with our example…
Let’s say I have two Sailors going to a public event honoring WWII veterans returning from the Washington, D.C. memorial at the San Diego International Airport. In an official capacity, I take images as normal. I download the images, caption them and email them to the strike group’s PAO for approval. Because it’s a Sunday, the email with the images will not get seen until Monday at the earliest. And because we are not the only command in the strike group, we’ll likely get the approval and feedback early Tuesday.
Tuesday. TWO DAYS after the event occurred.
Now consider this. The Sailors I was documenting had their cell phones on them. They were taking images of themselves with veterans and sharing them with their family and friends on their social media pages AS IT WAS HAPPENING.
Do you see the difference? Because the official channels and authorities tell me I have to serialize, caption, submit for approval and then release my imagery, the Sailors with a cell phone edge me out in telling their story. So for that matter, WHY WAS I EVEN THERE?! Those Sailors essentially did my job for me with their smartphones because by the time I receive approval to release the images I took, the event has passed, people have already seen images and anything I would have to add will just be seen as too little, too late – such is a characteristic of the psychology of social media and its users.
You can change the situations to have occurred during the week and the location to being on the ship, and the result will still be the same. Stalling information so that it can be reviewed by the appropriate channels and thus always being two steps behind everyone else. It’s like we’re the little brother, Randy, in A Christmas Story always trying to run and catch up because we’re bogged down with layers upon layers of unnecessary garments (read: bureaucracy). And yes, occasionally we’ll fall and have trouble getting up.
But the elephant in the room is clear: my shipmates with their own cameras and cell phones have quicker authority to share their story and the Navy’s by extension, than I do as the official public affairs specialist.
Some will argue that past events have made for the process to be necessary when unruly photos or videos are released or leaked. But I can assure you that responsible communicators like me are smart enough to know the difference. Yes, individuals in the past have made mistakes (but I can tell you that neither PA specialists nor PAOs have been the ones sharing these negative materials), but that does not mean you have to stifle communication efforts out of FEAR that it might happen again.
Sharing our Navy story is more important in the bigger picture and trying to apply old school thinking to new technology, in this case, simply will not work.
A possible solution would be to empower the commands more to make the decisions for themselves what images they want to release on social media (most assuredly during a public function wherein the timeliness of sharing such stories and images plays an important part). Higher commands can then simply review subordinate command social media accounts on occasion to ensure relevancy of topics, information, and images and offer feedback as necessary (key phrase there: as necessary). This will cut back the amount of time it takes for commands without a designated PAO to share information and stories because the ultimate release authority would fall back on the commanding officer (most of whom, by that point, have received media training prior to gaining control of a command or ship). This will have the added effect of enabling smaller commands to share their story – because let’s face it, a lot of what the public sees are big deck stories and images because the smaller commands don’t have media departments with immediate access to approval authorities.
The point is that social media is the norm now. Newer platforms are being released and are on the rise and the Navy is still running to catch up. If the process is not made simpler it will forever remain behind and the most talented of Navy MCs (such as the ones I have had the honor of working with and witnessing the awesome work they have done) will eventually tire of the old school thinkers, leave the Navy, and give their talent to someone else. For a vast majority of them, they simply desire to document and inform, and when faced with roadblocks like the ones I’ve seen in my career, it makes it difficult not only for the Navy to tell its story, but to hold on to the communicators talented enough to tell it to begin with.
The lesson is that if one has the foresight to incorporate social media and other content branding principles into their communications strategy, then one also has to realize that you have to play by those rules. Rules that are simply understood through practice and never set in stone. Where the Navy and the military in general, need rules, instructions, and doctrine, it has to realize that the openness of the internet and not just social media, mean that if you invite the technology in, you must be ready to use it as it was intended. Otherwise you risk being that guy at the high school football game who graduated years prior living in today’s world physically and in the glory days of the past mentally.
And I for one know that the Navy is better than that. Alas that’s a battle that will rage on long after my departure. The sun sets on my time here, but it will still rise. I hope that others who follow me are able to build upon the foundations we laid forth when we took on the burden of social media.
2013 was overall an amazing year. The commissioning of my ship, USS Anchorage (LPD 23) was a culmination of two years of hard work and it paid off tenfold. I feel like this year brought everything full circle with regards to my career in the Navy.
I’ve met really great people and have had the honor and pleasure of serving alongside some of the most selfless people in the Navy. They have taught me the value of dedication and have embraced our core values with a passion that I wish to emulate as I move forward.
I feel as though this may very well be my final look back on a year as a Sailor. But I am not sad because I know that whatever the future holds for me, I have made a lot of great friends in my shipmates.
Alas, today we also saw the passing of a great hero in human rights. This is one of my favorite quotes:
“People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
The man, the myth, the legend.
Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street.
Well unless you’ve been drifting around Earth’s orbit avoiding satellite debris, then by now you’ve heard the rather shocking news of the recently announced departure of Ghostcrawler from the hallowed halls of Blizzard Entertainment, which was followed up with a gracious forum post by the man himself. As lead designer he was the man behind the infamous crusade to nerf plate classes, boost mages, and harbored a secret love affair with Holy Priests. For six years he changed the way Blizzard did business in harboring direct line communication with World of Warcraft‘s playerbase, a responsibility which up until the advent of Twitter rested solely upon the shoulders of Blizzard’s highly communicative community managers.
Depending on who you talked to as well as the particular development cycle, you either really loved the guy, or loathed the guy. Sad that you can turn to /r/wow to see the barrage of “Ding, dong…”‘s that resounded and were echoed on the official forums, but so be it.
Say what you will. This man changed the way developers interacted with their playerbase by, you know, ACTUALLY INTERACTING with them — on a daily basis, no less. WoW trolls often took this for granted without realizing that he was giving them something very few, and I mean VERY FEW AAA title teams give their players: transparency in system design between maker and consumer. For this, I am eternally grateful because to me, it wasn’t simply playing a game. It was understanding what was truly encompassed in making it great and the hard decisions that had to be made to keep it that way.
So as his departure comes to us on the eve of one of our greatest American holidays, I choose to think of the man I met at BlizzCon as the somewhat reserved, though still awesome to converse with guy who wore some AMAZING collared shirts (no, seriously…fashionably sensible this guy), and was willing to talk with just about anyone. I was in the enviable position of spending nearly every night in Anaheim with him and a few of the developers, and I found most engaging some of the things I was able to discuss with him that was NOT related to Warcraft.
For me, my one curiosity that he entertained was how a man with a PhD and a background in marine biology made the switch to lead systems designer for one of the largest MMOs in the world.
“The unique aspect I found common in both worlds was that they both catered to my desire to simply observe.”
I remember this because it struck to the very heart of my nature as a Navy photojournalist. One of my natural talents is one where I remain off to the side, often with a camera, and observe human interaction. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy attention as well. But I also enjoy the simple of art of people watching. Have you ever just stepped aside to enjoy the moment, looked around at the people in your company and just, observed?
So as sort of a hero of mine, my reasons for looking up to him were simply that he wasn’t afraid of change in making a drastic career shift. A strength I look to achieve myself on the precipice of one the biggest decisions I’ve had to make in a long time — ending my contract with the Navy after ten years and moving on to something else. I wish him the best in his next endeavors, whatever they may be.
Which makes for a great segue into my annual reflective musings.
See, a lot of people get nostalgic, hopeful and reflective around New Years. But I’ve always tended to be that way around Thanksgiving, if only because my birthday is normally just days before the holiday and between the two days, I think about my next year on this planet and what I hope to achieve.
This is a BIG year for me…and I’m fucking scared. Yes, the profanity is meant for dramatic emphasis, but also because it exudes the exact level of fear that is coursing through my body and soul as I face the forthcoming changes.
I know the end result will be me exiting the Navy a much smarter, stronger, and better person than when I entered it.
Ten years ago this week, I reported to my first ship, the recently decommissioned USS Ford (FFG 54). It’s crest motto was one that has stuck with me to this day. A single word etched into my soul that drove my success in nearly every venture with the Navy: “Tenacious.”
For ten years I had lofty goals of progressing, completing media projects and making written and visual products that would impact the lives of those around me.
But I also had important life goals that included cleaning up my unfortunate first (mis)steps into college and then begin coursework to complete my Bachelor’s. I served time in Afghanistan to achieve the former, while I did time in Bahrain to begin achieving the latter.
I’ve been lucky enough to have had a journey in the Navy that has brought some of the most amazing people in life, and brought me closer to the people who knew me BEFORE the Navy. Every single person has touched me and influenced me in only the best way possible. I wouldn’t even dream of departing if I didn’t feel confident enough in my ability to succeed and that confidence comes in large part to the many influencers I’ve had and continue to have in my life.
I am thankful for:
- My family: doting, loving and sweetest ever Mom, and two brothers who have grown into two level-headed men.
- My own Williams sisters: Stormy and Taryn. Thanks to one Cuervo-fueled argument with Taryn, whom I consider my sister, I find myself in a place I never would have imagined possible. She kicked me onto the good path and knew I was going to succeed.
- My two Jeffs: Darcy & Hopkins. Twice in my Naval career I managed to meet two really great guys that accepted me for who I was, never judging me, and always reaching out to me when I needed it most.
- My second family: The Masseys. Since leaving Mississippi, I’ve missed greatly two awesome friends, Gil and Ariel, and their amazing parents (Greg and Karen) who, also, never once judged me (a surprising find in the great South).
- My fairy gaybrother: the good Dr. Cortese. Since meeting him in Austin 14 years ago, Danny has been a truly great friend always encouraging me to push myself in completing my education, while also teaching me to know when to just step back and enjoy life. His husband Abel came years later and between the two of them, I find myself never wanting for hilarious conversations or a good ass-whooping in Words with Friends.
- My San Diego crew: Adam, Eric, Moose, Matthew, Chris and David. This year was particularly hard and grueling but you guys keep me from going off the deep end of reclusivity, and I can’t be more thankful.
- My Navy mentors: NCC McNairy, MCCS Hopper, Cmdr. Stewart, and LT Wade. I wouldn’t even be in a position with so many great options to weigh had it not been for the amazing advice and opportunities you have afforded me or encouraged me to take over the last few years.
- My professional mentors (and great friends): Laura and Wayneston. You two have stepped into my life as forces of awesome and the hands you’ve extended to me to ensure I face my decisions in the coming year with confidence are both appreciated and unmatched. I don’t know how I got so lucky to have two selfless people such as yourselves in my life, but as Laura says, “Like attracts like, and awesome attracts awesome.”
What’s a single guy who is the male equivalent of Carrie Bradshaw (yes, I even have the Apple powerbook…er, Macbook) without a mention to the many great lovers over the years. Again, I’ve been blessed enough to have met and maintained good friendships with nearly every guy because even though a relationship didn’t work between us, we never let it get in the way of the friendship. Again, I am grateful.
And lastly, what’s a post of thanks from a servicemember without a shout out to all my brothers and sisters in arms serving abroad, deployed in dangerous places, and unable to share this day with their families and friends. Remember to raise your glass to them:
So my goals this year are to find a great place to work in PR, be it Blizzard (*notsosubtlewink*), or any other cool gaming company or gaming-focused PR firm. I also want to become more active in the PRSA. I joined the society over the summer and I really want to feel apart of that community. Especially since I have a new goal of getting APR certified (which is the PR equivalent to the Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist program — lots of studying, and more studying, and did I mention studying?). A new road on my journey and I look forward to the travel.
I suppose it’s time to mosey into the kitchen to begin work on the overnight side dishes.
HAVE A GREAT THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!
So the interesting thing about the criticism concerning Blizzard’s forthcoming Warlords of Draenor expansion for World of Warcraft appears to be the ages-old battle between the sexes.
I’m still trying to gather my own thoughts on the subject matter, but the consensus from what appears to be a vast majority of the Warcraft community’s female population is that there exists a huge imbalance in representation — though some have largely attributed this to marketing campaigns that appear to solely cater to men.
In fact, for some good reading, here’s a few posts on the subject that all bring up valid and relevant points:
- First Impressions – Alternative Chat, November 9th
- First Thoughts on Warlords of Draenor – Harpy’s Nest, November 10th
- Lords of Draenor: Where are the girls at? – Restokin, November 14th
- Women and Warlords – Mushan, Etc., November 16th
So after all that, I can say that while my female gaming colleagues have a right to voice their concern, as a gay man, I’m just going to say that if ANYONE feels under-represented, well, yeah…draw your own conclusion.
However, blogs such as the ones highlighted have done an excellent job at pointing out alleged flaws in Blizzard’s Warlords of Draenor marketing. I’m not going to belabor the point only because the future story of a future expansion isn’t completely written. So to spare poor Nethaera‘s sanity (the AMAZING community manager in the unfortunate position of bearing the brunt of this debate), let’s talk about what we HAVE seen.
Note: I LOVE the World of Warcraft. I love the story. Yes I drink Blizzard Kool-Aid with my hot pockets and it is delicious — cherry flavor with an orange slice What I’m outlining here is my ONLY criticism of the story. I’m not one to complain or attempt to dictate change. Lest we forget, I simply muse about what I think would enhance MY experience. I felt I needed to disclaimer that. For the most part, I have been a VERY happy Warcraft gamer. And honestly, if this is the ONLY thing I’m criticizing, then you know Blizzard is doing a lot of things right.
I think part of what I find wrong with the female driven stories is that
Joss Whedon didn’t write or create them Blizzard doesn’t seem to know where they want to go with them. First and foremost I’m a lore nerd and gamer. I play games mostly for the story vice the actual gameplay and challenges. I’m moved by my bond with the characters I play as well as with those who propel the story.
Garrosh Hellscream by Callthistragedy1
Garrosh was a very interesting character to follow. His downfall is unique from other “villains” in that he was NEVER, yes NEVER, corrupted by any other force or being other than his own motives and stupidity. Y’Saarj’s heart didn’t whisper empty promises of power. Nor did any of the weapons he scoured all of Pandaria to find. His will was his own, even when he was transformed in the epic final battle in the Siege of Orgrimmar. He wasn’t consumed by the power, HE was the one who CONSUMED it and wielded it. And I find this fact most fascinating. Ok, now hold on to this thought…I’ll get to why I bring this up in a moment…
Let’s talk about Jaina. Arguably Azeroth’s most powerful mage. Somewhere in between Deathwing’s downfall and the discovery of Pandaria, hers is a story of tragedy unlike that we have ever seen in any of Blizzard’s games. The most tragic and unprovoked act of war spearheaded by Garrosh resulted in the destruction of an entire city, Jaina’s city, and the death of some of the most recognizable figures in Azeroth’s history, including the leader of the Kirin Tor, Rhonin. The Kirin Tor, mind you, who’s very credo was to be the voice of reason and tolerance to ALL of magic’s practitioners, despite their political allegiance.
Once upon a time, Jaina, had similar views of tolerance. In expansions prior, she herself was the voice of reason, always yielding to acts of peace vice that which would further push war onto Azeroth’s land. What I find amazing is that for so long she held this yearning for peace despite every single tragedy she endured, and hers is a LAUNDRY LIST of bullshit any person has to endure:
- The death of her father.
- The mental deconstruction of her boyfriend, Arthas
- The near destruction of the world her boyfriend caused…and his attempt to kill her when it was time to confront him
- The friends and mentors she lost in the two wars on Azeroth
AND THAT WAS PRIOR TO THERAMORE’S DESTRUCTION.
But alas, it was Theremore that became the straw that finally broke the camel’s back. Hell hath no fury like a mage scorned and that is essentially what Jaina became. A dangerous and furious force of power with a story this world hadn’t seen since Dark Willow:
Jaina the Kind became Jaina the Pissed Off…so much so that she nearly destroyed Orgrimmar herself. Did we really need a Siege raid? Jaina could have done that shit all by herself, and she nearly did with an army of water elementals had it not been for Thrall and Kalec, more so the latter. They talked her down out of a vengeful rage by appealing to her humanity. And it worked (much in the same way it worked with Dark Willow).
Jaina Proudmoore by breathing2004
So throughout the expansion, we see Jaina working with more gusto to find a way to bring Garrosh down. She purges Dalaran of ALL of those who would ally themselves with the Horde, imprisoning those who refused to leave. She rids the Kirin Tor of their neutral policies and officially declares that while Garrosh leads the Horde, the Kirin Tor would side with the Alliance.
(Note: all of this was detailed in the Jaina-centric novel, Jaina Proudmoore: Tides of War, written by Christie Golden)
Essentially, for me…I see a woman showing as much strength and fortitude, more than I had seen with any of her male counterparts. What’s interesting to note is that a lot of people seemed to think Jaina was simply going crazy and that the “crazy bitch” (well, Lor’themar called her a “witch” but you KNOW what he meant) would eventually overstep her bounds and we’d have to confront her — possibly Garrosh-style. Thankfully, the crafter’s of Warcraft’s story had the foresight not to go this route.
But, they still messed it all up. Halfway through the expansion, somewhere on the Isle of Thunder, Jaina lost her gusto. Fast-forward to the final confrontation with Garrosh and upon his downfall, all we saw was a mild-tempered mage whispering in Varian’s ear:
“Oh, I’m just going to stand here, looking and talking all sexy and stuff…dismantle the Horde…”
That’s all she was going to do…whisper in his ear!?!?!?!?!?
After the Panda, Taran Zhu, walks in and says “my people have suffered more than any other…”
ARE YOU FREAKIN’ KIDDING ME!?
JAINA JUST STOOD THERE AND LET HIM SAY THAT?!!?!??!?!?!!eleven!!one
Let’s think about this for a second:
- It was the Pandaren Emperor who decided to bottle up his negative shit and bury it in the land, which as it turns out was the very reason the land was affected by the Horde and the Alliance’s arrival.
- It was the all the weapons from the Mogu, Mantid, AND Pandaren Garrosh sought to increase his power.
- Had Garrosh not released the power buried in the Vale, the Vale would have continued to house the very corruption that would have eventually overcome the land anyway….
- Oh and by the way, Theramore got blown up — not by some power already buried within the land – but by AN ACT OF WAR.
AND IT WAS TARAN ZHU WHO SAID HIS PEOPLE SUFFERED THE MOST FROM GARROSH?!
I hate to throw race into this but, shit, if Jaina were black, she would have gotten GHETTO on their asses. Hand on her hip, swiveled that head and exclaimed:
“AW HELL NAW, BITCHES!…” Okay, maybe I’ve been loving Angela Bassett too much in this season of American Horror Story, hehehe:
After getting everyone’s attention, she then would have walked to the center of the room, Ice Nova-ing Varian in place while pointing to Thrall and Vol’jin declaring, “Y’all take one step and I’ll sheep your asses and leave you that way until winter when I’ll make myself a fabulous coat….Now, a bitch has some THINGS to say…”
“FIRST OF ALL, WHOSE PEOPLE HAVE SUFFERED THE MOST?!”
And proceeded to go on a verbal tirade that would have seen Jaina beat even more, the ever-living shit out of Garrosh, ice-lancing him to the wall as the others could only watch both out of fear and utter amazement, as she tells both Taran Zhu and Garrosh:
“I believe it was MY people who suffered the most. You see, Garrosh, you destroyed this land seeking out powerful artifacts to empower yourself with, when the only thing more powerful than any of the dark magics stored on this continent was a power of YOUR own making…my rage. I’m not going to kill you, oh no. I want to look you in the eye and show you my face. The face of the thousands of innocent people you killed. This face that will be the last thing you ever see.”
As she frostbolts his eyes out, blinding him and then walking out of the room (yes, WALKING out because it’s more dramatic than porting, hehe).
And THAT is how it SHOULD HAVE gone down. Instead it was a male-driven conversation where the only woman of power with a vested interest (because, well, Sylvannas couldn’t have been more bored) was kept silent.
But do you see the difference in the spirals between that of Garrosh and that of Jaina?
- One destroys the world to seek power, the other didn’t have to seek that power as it was WITHIN her to begin with.
- One seeks to purge the world of the “impure” while the other just wants vengeance for all that was lost.
- One’s will is so strong that he WIELDS the power of an old god without ever being corrupted by it, the other wields the power of her own RAGE as a result of being tormented by extreme loss only to be told to calm down, “that’s not how we do things.”
- One fights tooth and nail to hold true to his principle, the other just stands there and lets others decide what would be best in the interest of all involved.
- And never ONCE was it outright explained that the ONLY REASON Garrosh took out Theramore was to break the will of the ONLY person he saw as being his true threat. Sure taking out the other leaders was bonus to him, but no. He wanted Jaina out of the picture, plain and simple. He understood her power and knew that unlike facing Varian in melee combat, he wouldn’t be able to compete — a mage overtaking a warrior? As it is in game, so it is in the story, it seems
Sadly, I could keep going.
*spoilers here and there…you know the drill*
So where do we go next? OF COURSE you know Garrosh escapes. OF COURSE. And not only that, but has a time-bending friend (likely, a rogue Bronze Dragonflighter….because, honestly, every dragonflight has to have one or two corrupt members…) that will send Garrosh back to a time when Orcs could not be bested by the wiles of pissed off human female mages.
And that is where we find ourselves in the current battle of the sexes. We don’t know enough of the story yet to see how it all plays out, but I do know that a lot of female gamers are not liking the ”manly men doing manly man things” theme that the current previews and marketing would have you believe is the story’s direction.
Quoth the lovely Miss Olivia Grace:
— Olivia Grace (@oliviadgrace) November 15, 2013
I reserve judgement until I actually see the content. But there are some things to think about:
- This is Draenor — and if anyone should be leading the campaign to clean up, yet another of Garrosh’s messes, it should be Aggra. HER HOMELAND IS NAGRAND (rhyme not intended, hehe). So what if she’s a mother. Hey, I hear women are allowed in combat now in the U.S. military, I think it’s high time they lead a few of the Horde’s forces. Preferably with a little more dignity than Zaela.
- DON’T EVEN GET ME STARTED ABOUT ZAELA. A former badass who worked to overthrow a tyrant male leader only to blindly follow another one. Ugh.
- As far as we know, the Draenai have always enjoyed equality between the sexes, especially with regards to offensive and defensive forces. There’s no reason to think that there couldn’t be powerful female figures prominent in the story (matter of fact, there seems to be one in the works)
Lastly — can we get some gay characters up in the story? Enough dabbling. Story, front and center, please, kkthxbai.
But really, I’ve enjoyed the story and gaming experience thus far and the changes they have so far previewed keep me interested. I like to end of positivity so to my fellow gamers, stay passionate. The developers and architects of this universe, thank you for making a game that invokes such passions. And to the community managers like Nethaera, I love you. /hug