Monday, June 29, 2009

Editorial: Passing the Porch

The editorial staff over at Pocket Gamer requested a "valedictory address" - and here it is, Passing the Porch.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Post: Claps And Singing Along

Friday was my final day heading up game production for Nokia San Francisco. I had joined Nokia in 2003, about a month before the launch of the original N-Gage, and let me tell you, going from Sega to a Fortune 100 organization (whose market cap is bigger than the entire games industry) is the kind of experience that leaves you at first fearing that you will die, and at second fearing that you will not die.

Two platform launches and two hero games later: I'm still alive, thanks in part to the platinum advice of Ecco the Dolphin creator Ed Annunziata, who would always chide me during times of stress, "Good lord, Scott: We are making toys, not nuclear weapons." (Ed also talked about my no-no parts in an interview, once - what can I say, the guy's a character.)

To be perfectly frank, many friends in the core gaming space were not supportive of my move to Nokia - and to be perfectly kind, strangers in the industry were less than "not supportive." But Nokia provided resources that most can only dream of, and our work carried both the challenge and the excitement of pioneering. (A harsh reality when it comes to pioneering: Sometimes, "the second mouse gets the cheese.")

We never made anything as useful as a nuclear weapon, no - we didn't even aim to create the opposite of a nuclear weapon, like an Alternate Reality Game that encourages homeless people to help feed and care for other homeless people. Still, I am exceedingly proud of the work that we did and the games that we achieved: Pocket Kingdom: 0wn the W0rld and Reset Generation were both world-beaters, defining connected handheld entertainment.

I am strongly grateful to Nokia for all of the amazing opportunities that I was offered during my residency: Responsibility and authority for game P&Ls in the millions, the hats to manage title marketing in addition to production, speaking opportunities and academic lectures, travel to exotic (sometimes frozen) locations, lots of face-time with the press, coursework at the UC Berkeley Center for Executive Development, and that's just off of the tips of my typers.

In April, I gave a "Ten Questions" interview with the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences, where I was asked about the "biggest challenge facing the games industry" ...

Q: What's the biggest challenge you see facing the industry?

A: I seriously question how heavy games publishing organizations need to be to compete effectively in the current and future markets? Is there a true advantage in the publisher owning the developer? Does worrying about (and investing in) creative activities dilute the publisher's focus to market and distribute? One of the biggest challenges facing the games industry will be that facing publishers to both renovate and innovate organization, processes, and practices for tomorrow.

... and my sentiment has not changed: I guess that the best way to start my sabbatical is to wish Nokia luck in renovating and innovating organization, processes, and practices for tomorrow. And I hope that Nokia, in-turn, will wish me luck in making it to the beach in time for first-person frisbee - sabbatical, here I come.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Opinion: Girls Fart

Whoa ... What's that smell? Better hop on over to Gamasutra to check out Girls Fart.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Post: Touching You, Touching Me

That Burn Your Resume opinion piece must have reached somebody in corporate gaming America, 'cause Epic Games can be seen here quoting me (with attribution) in a job description, of all things:

::: Director of Special Projects :::
We're looking for someone to report directly to the president to take on projects at Epic and its international subsidiaries, and drive them to completion. In the immortal words of Foe -- "to execute shit like shit was a mass murderer in Texas."

Even better than being quoted in a job description, today I received word from Andrew Dovichi, one of the game designers of Sega's Alien Syndrome for Nintendo Wii and Sony PSP, a person whom I have never met, a person who had, after having been for months frustrated by games industry interview process, stumbled across the Burn Your Resume piece on Gamasutra ...

So after I read your piece, I decided to craft my own CV in a style that is more indicative of my personality. I also cribbed some inspiration from your posted CV but that was the point of posting it right? I've attached my CV in case its the sort of thing you'd care to look at.

I sent that CV to one, that's right 1, company. Did the phone interview, took the design test, got the job.

I am, of course, completely amused: If everybody copies the style of the CV which I put with the Burn Your Resume piece for illustration, then we are back at square-one for getting noticed when our papers hit the desk. I am also completely heartwarmed: Touching lives is the reason that I pursued a career in the games industry to begin with!

Recently, a friend reminded me of the story of the Businessman and the Poor Fisherman. To make a long parable short, the Businessman must work his entire life to save for retirement so that he might live the very same pleasures that the Poor Fisherman lives everyday: Fish in the morning, play with his children in the afternoon, sip sangria and strum guitar in the evenings. The moral of this story being that we should put less effort into our work and enjoy what youth and money we have, when we have youth and money.

That's hooey, I say: The Poor Fisherman never made an awesome videogame that was enjoyed by millions of people, which means that - though he may everyday have relaxed to lazy pleasures - the Poor Fisherman probably went to Hell when he died.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Opinion: Be A Wiener

Find out what's wrong with your boss in my op/ed piece on Gamasutra, then, go ahead, be a Wiener.

Opinion: Burn Your Resume

In my first opinion/editorial piece for Gamasutra, I encourage you all to burn your resumes.

Video: Edinburgh International Festival 2008

It's a rare and beautiful occasion when conference organizers give no direction as to the content of a talk: EIF 2008 was just such an occasion. This is a talk of which I am particularly proud, and not just because my futurist musings popped an entire page in Edge Magazine ("A Scott with a plan"), but because I got to eat breakfast that morning bubblegum-punk-humming to myself, "Fuck it! Here's something I believe in!"