Developer Diaries// Trawling for Gems Post E3: The Preface

Posted 12 Jun 2009 15:41 by
It's the time after E3 where things are transcribed and gems are trawled for. Here's a quick insight into why, over the years, this process has become more of a challenge.

After many years in the game of gaming hackery, I'm still bemused that video game industry execs get so annoyed when what they say is interpreted by readers and writers alike. Why am I bemused? Mainly because 86.52% of what gets said has to be interpreted because it consists of jargon:

Jargon. There are three reasons for it:
1)To hide or obscure meaning.
2)To provide plausible deniability.
3)To enable the speaker make the subject appear more interesting than it actually is.
4)To enable the speaker to appear more interesting than they actually are.

Once upon a time, “back in the day” (a Wednesday) when video games were young and innocent, people would say things like, “Our game's dead good, it's got platforms and shooting and falling off things and it's a damn sight better than that other company's game.”

That day lasted for about 23 hours and was brought to midnight by the first language vandal who walked into a small room populated by game makers and said: “Jeez guys, I'm excited. I've just come on stream synergetically with the marketing department and we're going to drive your great work forward!”

The marketing department consisted of the language vandal and his certificates. The development room housed five people (tops) who provided music, code, level design, graphics, beer, sandwiches and game ideas.

The language vandal picked off the game maker he'd decided was “the alpha resource” and they both went off to re-define core paradigms of the current interactive experience by re-imagining the IP's core character's relevance to the demographic. In order to achieve this going forward, however, the language vandal explained, "That cool guy – Steve is it? Great guy! - well his role would to be leveraged for the good of the team.”

The alpha resource, feeling quite pleased that he'd understood what was being said, returned to the game room and told the team, “We're changing the main character from a duck into a muscular, semi-psycho cockerel who has trouble with moral issues. It's no longer gonna be Avoid Ovoid Racer, it's now Psycho Cock Kill!. Stop designing eggs! Make bigger guns!”

“Sweeeet!”, cried the team, who were sick of designing eggs anyway.

Remembering Steve needed to be leveraged though, and realising that he too had to give some negatively geared positive news, the alpha resource also slipped sickeningly into Language Vandalism with: “Hey, and Steve, we're providing you with the chance to experience the challenges of free enterprise going forward. Good luck fella!”

On the off chance that Steve actually went and confronted the true power-broker with, “Oi! How come you sacked me and replaced me with four other people?” He would be told, “Steve, fella, mate! I think you must be mis-remembering. I said to alpha resource that your role would have to be leveraged for the good of the team, fella mate!”

“Riiiight, Keith sacked me then! Bastard's always hated me!”

“Fella, pal, mate... here, take my card I'll connect with you soon and we can share experiential narratives!”

Once language vandalism had revealed itself as a virus, however, there was little to stop it... and it soon began infecting the games themselves with car crashes of certain vehicle marques resulting in non-existent crash damage. This was termed as “realistical” or “fun-enhancement”. Soon, it swept into sports sims with certain teams utterly refusing to license their names, players, towns and colours unless when a gamer fouled another player this was seen as “conceptually edging the rulebook parameters tackle-wise”. As for their team losing, this might happen but was to be seen as “proactively re-booting the old-factored scoring dynamic to go forward with added realisticness”.

Before long, in order to start playing a game you had to sit through at least two hours of cut and loading screens that explained why you could and must interface with the gaming synergies with the added super-awesomeness of infotaining active texture mapping eye-impact sectors”.

The games themselves shrank into 22% “positive dynamic environment concepts” (the bits you played) and 88% “enfranchizating pro-historical behind the scenes sneak peeks” (adverts for the next games in the series)”.

Of course, I'm re-equilibrillating jargon in a humour opposition... damn it.

Think I'm kidding? Try some of my very favourites chunks of jargon in recent years.

President and CEO of Activision Blizzard's publishing unit, Michael Griffith: “...reinvent this (Tony Hawk) franchise back to its roots where we engaged a broad, mass market consumer".

I'll try to translate, “Make a game from the fag-end of a series that reminds people of how good the early ones so they'll buy it.”

And you thought I was jesting about games becoming infested?

How's this from Engage In-Game Advertising, “The in-game integration of the eBay Motors marketplace experience allows GRID players to buy and sell performance vehicles in a realistic setting.

"The marketplace experience becomes an essential element in a player’s strategy to win races by upgrading cars for optimal performance. This marks the first time a real world application has been deeply immersed as a core function in a driving title."

See, if you call anything an “experience” it becomes so much more exotic. The idea that buying and selling a car in a driving game via “a marketplace experience” is 'immersed' and a 'core function of a driving title' is enough to make me want to douse these people in a realistic petrol/flame synergy going forward. The core experience of a driving game... is DRIVING!

Ahem... there's this, “The new date will provide a more optimal launch timeframe for the open-world action driving game featuring Vin Diesel”, to explain a release slip. How can anything be 'more optimal'? And why “release date” when you can say “launch timeframe”? Why? Because it doesn't make it sound like the game has slipped!

Finally, one of the masters of using 50 words, 45 of which are irrelevant, in order to say, “Make better games”. Microsoft's Shane Kim on Project Gotham Racing from May 2008, “And our goal is to roll the studio so that they can do more creative execution within the racing space. “ - I reckon that means, “Make the team make good racing games”.

That's enough for now, I've got to energise the team forwardly into an exciting beverage experience across the major beverating quadrants.

As I leave, however, I've got to point out that the majority of PR and marketing people I deal with on a daily basis in the UK have never said anything about 'moving forward with exciting gaming experiences for the significant quadrants within the EMEA demographic geography'... then again, for the most part they're always, every single one of them, drunk at about 09:00hrs at the thought of having to re-write something along those lines that was emailed over the previous evening.

Right... time to head back into the press materials.

Bye-bye now, fella!

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Joji 12 Jun 2009 17:09
True, it is an infectious seed of the industry, pr and marketng bullcrap. If only we could live without them.
PreciousRoi 12 Jun 2009 18:32
*cough* disruption *cough*
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