Oh Noes, we’re fscked!

So Wagner James Au writes a piece at Giga Om called Game Business and its Crisis of Attention, and derides the games industry for being short sighted. Go ahead give it a read, it will make you laugh.

Wagner Au has been a great, if occasionally panicky game journalist. He is correct in telling us that the Wii (which I just bought, glee!) has penetrated a market that many game developers did not think existed. But what he hasn’t taken into account is that the Wii’s success story was not incidental, but a planned, smart execution by Nintendo, ALSO a part of the games industry.

The story begins with the advent of the casual gaming market with a lot of women and older gen people taking interest in casual gaming websites, circa 2002. Nintendo saw that as an opportunity, and created their next handheld the Nintendo DS, a dual display touch screen little darling that took the button mashing away from the games and instead put in intuitive touch controls. Now a lot of developers jumped on to the bandwagon and made some A list titles for the DS. BUT the casual games juggernaut was largely because of first party Nintendo developed titles. Nintendo, a gaming company saw a market, and pushed for it with a strong game base for their console, making other developers take notice. Au does not even acknowledge the DS, and he is wrong in presupposing that the Wii brought about a brewing revolution. It didn’t. There was a huge casual games market, but before the DS, those people never thought of themselves as gamers. The DS changed that, not by being a great machine either, but by the first party titles that Nintendo pushed, and a smart decision to keep it inexpensive.

Even now, and this is interesting, it is the largest selling console in the world. Au mentions that the consoles have not been able to outsell the PS2. Well, the PS2 can’t outsell the DS either. And it’s just a little handheld, not even a TV console.

Nintendo then built on the market created by the DS and started development on the Wii, which again features intuitive controls, and despite mainstream shooter titles etc. at launch, a huge database of casual party games that the whole family can play. Nintendo’s decree was plain and simple: increase the market share. Again, great first party library, and the cheapest next-gen console in the market.

His allegation is that X360 and PS3 have been myopic decisions by MS and Sony. I agree, but only partially. The DS’s success took MS by surprise, but they knew the power of the casual gaming market, hence Live Arcade(met with humongous success). Hence Viva Piñata. Sony, too, understood that and while it has had a hiccup-y start with an overpriced console, they had a great GDC with the announcement of Sony Home (A Second Life like environment within the console, that is free to use, and as robust), and LittleBigPlanet, their lean towards the casual market.

Again, Au fails to recognize the fact that even now, the new gaming converts via the Wii or the DS, are increasingly taking interest in what other titles they can play. This can only mean good business for all of us. The market that has been single handedly created by Nintendo, will gradually, in smaller percentages, buy other games, other consoles, get into gaming proper. And whatever form the games industry takes, casual, hardcore, it still is the Games industry. It can change, and it already is changing, but it can’t sputter and die. Try buying an Wii in the US and tell me that games aren’t selling. There’s a 15 day minimum waiting period, and a markup of 100$ on the Wii on most stores in the US. Nintendo can’t manufacture those things as fast as they sell. If that’s not good tidings, what is? How can more people playing games be a bad thing?

Of course, we know that making a Halo 3 or Gears of War will cost 3-5 times more than a Wii sports. Which means more developers will lean towards easier to make and publish games, and the so called mainstream titles will be fewer as we go along. There are discussions to be had on the outsourcing business, and how that is helping these studios leverage their cost-benefit ratios, or the fact that already EA and Ubi have committed themselves to more Wii titles. And the 360 isn’t doing bad either – the games are doing well, Live Arcade is an unprecedented success, and their high profile mainstream titles sell like hot bloody cakes, maybe not as hot as Nintendo, but even by traditional standards, 360 titles are a success.

PS3, though, is in a sad position. Phil Harrison couldn’t hide faster. But that is not due to second life or grandma playing mahjong. There are a slew of problems – blu ray makes the games expensive, it also makes their console expensive, the long delays has meant bigger losses, first party development has been focusing on Home and sequels, so newer titles are harder to find.

Addendum: Already responses to his ill-written and statistic HIDING article is scathing:

Simon at GameSetWatch writes:
“And besides, which, with the Hollywood comparisons – hello, Pirates Of The Caribbean, Spider-Man, ka-ching? There’s room in here for a few blockbusters too – alongside a welcome widening of the market and (hopefully!) bigger opportunities for the little guy.”

Colin Campbell writes at Next-Gen:
“… [Au] argues that the game industry is in trouble because of the success of products like World of Warcraft, Wii and casual games. ”

Such a poor short sighted article. I usually don’t respond like this, but hey, someone actually emailed it to me citing it as relevant information.

Anyways, sorry for ranting, and I just wrote this as I went, so the data behind the argument is not here, though I assure you it IS out there. I…. I just can’t stand this sort of irresponsible journalism, I suppose.

Sorry for wasting your time, if I did.

The long of it

Or:How I Learned to Stop Worrying and blah blah blah

There are things, powerful things, that keep me from making regular posts on LJ or my blog, and amongst them are a strangely useless ergonomic keyboard, my propensity to make more spelling mistakes in a sentence than actual words, and the evillest invention of man yet, work. My theories on how the concept of doing not so fun things and continually proving your skills to gain another abstract concept: money, is directly linked to the invention of the nuclear bomb and Kurkure, to name but a few blights of the humankind, should be well known, but aren’t. Thank your favourite stars.

People who have ever read anything I have written, when I actually used to, should have alarm bells ringing in their head right about now. Yes, I am doped up on enough coffee to take care of the Brazilian national deficit, and work ended unusually early today(by which I mean at 2200). Yes, this is going to be a long post without de eville eljaye cutte, and I am going to write till I get bored or fall asleep or both.

The Dark Night returns.

So let’s talk about music, or more specifically, the sound of it. I have a very strange relationship with music; no one can say I am a music kind of person. I am probably one of the seven people on earth who doesn’t list music as a hobby on their CV/orkut type places etc., and that is mostly because it’s true. I don’t own an iPod or similar, never had a portable mp3/audio cd player, and my hi-fi system is hooked to my computer to amplify, among other things, the Windows default welcome tune, and the CD tray on that thing has been barren for 5 solid years. My computer hard drive has about 3 gigs of songs tops, the rest backed up on DVDs/CDs that get used every once in a bloody long while, and I can’t even list the songs on my HDD. I admittedly own a phone with iTunes, but the last time changed the playlist on that was when I bought it. I tried on more than you think you are for size, and the album still inhabits it.

So we’ve established my general apathy to music, yes? Now let’s sample this: I can’t imagine surviving without it either. There is a very simple thing that most people tend to ignore about all music: it’s all sound. That, my thoroughly bewildered and not unfairly bored LJ friend, is what I have been(probably) leading up to. I am a big fan of sound. All of it. Most days, I am looking to listen to at least 3 good sounds from all the music that I sift through, and believe you me, I do sift through a lot via my office LAN and teh intarwub radios OMG.

I listen to a lot of music simply for the sound. There is something inherent about sound itself, that makes you feel something. A child scratching on a piece of slate emanates a sound that makes you cringe from within, yes? There are millions, nay billions of such sounds that can make you feel something without having to resort to prose or music videos. The correct sounds can make the same sentence seem funny and intensely rude. Sound has power, and it is music’s DUTY to channel that power into something important, something with meaning.

We live in the age of confluence – I swear I saw a mobile phone concept which had a cigarette lighter and a Swiss army knife – and our art forms have blurred together to form newer children. Break down a music video, and that has a moving picture, sounds, colours, and even idolatry. The basics of art forms are quite simple however. The picture, painted or otherwise, has to tell a frame’s worth of story, or abstract feelings onto imagery. It’s business is imagery. I have long argued that Cinema’s primary service is the art of creating a spectacle, to show motion in pictures. The written word (responsible ones, not this tripe) has power, and that is to be channelled to tell stories or evoke feelings that the spoken brother cannot. Music’s primary business is sound. Maybe only for me, but there you have it.

There are at times a single note, half a guitar riff, a voice modulation in a phrase that are all it takes for me to listen to a song over and over again. Then there are songs that have subtext in the sound itself. Not the lyrics, or the imagery of the videos or the album cover, but the sounds themselves. That is a rare breed that makes hair on the back of hands stand. Lyrics are important in songs for most people, and probably why I listen to all that jazz. Sometimes, though, you have to go beyond what the song is trying to say and listen to what the music is whispering. Probably why I find myself increasingly getting hooked to things like live performances at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, or Yo Yo Ma concertos with Morricone, or original scores of recent films, simply because of the purity of sound, the disassociation that they covet with pre-conceived imagery(probably not in the case of film OSTs, but you’d be surprised at how much the shuffle button can help create a disconnect).

I find myself turning the radio on during my drive to work, trying to distil five minutes of good sounds from an hours worth of songs with a 70-20-10 ratio between Himesh Reshammiya-Bullshit-Songs. Suddenly the mood changes, does it not? A one sided argument about the sound of music suddenly threatens to turn low brow when I mention Hindi film music? You’d be surprised at the regular pace at which some notes can create vivid feelings amongst these. You’d be well advised to begin listening to one Rahman, Allah Rakha, maybe even without paying attention to the lyrics. There is a particular love ditty that he created that was very romantic; nice non-dil/pyaar/ishq type lyrics, but (to me) had a faint but unmistakable undercurrent of impending sorrow. You couldn’t tell, really, if you paid attention to the words, or the imagery or the placing of the song in the film. But from the moment I heard that song I was gripped with fear, and I wanted to call my girlfriend to check if she was okay. Every damn time. Surprise of surprises, when I saw the film the song belonged to, the dude in the song dies right after. I was shocked. Here was someone who was creating songs for me, the guy with a sound fetish.

That and the realization that I just listen to anything these days, as long there are 5 notes worth of excellent, unique sounds, made me get up and make this post(that, and gallons of caffeine coursing through my veins). This is as much an admission of a hidden, suppressed personal peculiarity as much as it is a strong suggestion to stop paying attention to what is cool to listen to and what is not. I can’t remember names of artists, bands, genres or albums. I can’t recount my all time favourite top ten alternative or grunge bands. Simply because I don’t care. At the risk of sounding musically illiterate, I unequivocally state that I don’t care about the genre based segregation of music that music channels and music magazines push down your throat, nor do I care about the literally thousands of artists and millions of tracks that are required listening for any rock/jazz/concerto fan in any given year. If it sounds good, point me to it. But if you think it’s important because it was a great commentary on the punk society of 1950s Lisbon, for chrissakes, keep away from me and go back to your music snobbery and iSocks and celebrity posters. I listen to ARR, Michael Bublé, Philip Glass, John Ottman, Pete Townshend, The NESkimos, and Crystal Method and tons of others ALL IN ONE DAY. And you know what, I hear better sounds in my music than you, Captain.

(This was probably in response to the most musically racist comic I read in recent times, and no I won’t give you a link. In any case, blame the coffee)

I am returned. Pay homage to the usual places. In the face of Ellis abandoning you all, I shall be your Internet Love Swami on LJ. Tell me all your filthy secrets(or generally amusing foibles).

My Wit Dazzles Bushy Bush

… and my madness elicits pity.

Ah, the vagaries of Google talk conversations:
sup dude

uploads! deliverables! milestones! guinea pig rape! skullfuckery!

yey :\

much nonsense is afoot, my friend


my only solace is John Ottman’s wonderful music and people on my google talk who keep reminding me that the world is sane, and the earth is not indeed, purple

oh no
world is not sane :\
and the world is actually blue

there you go disturbing my inner feng shui again
more coffee for me
devi, dammit
don’t run away

i want some crappy office coffee 😀

yeah well, you can come to my office and bloody well have the worst office coffee in your entire existence


it is distilled from evil itself using the tears of slaves and black hearts of donkey raping lawyers
the milk is churned from the blackest cancer stricken cows from calcutta

hmm i think i would rather go to a ccd 😐


and i wil put this conversation on my blog, so that i can look at it and wonder at my insanity at a saner hour


i will not cease ion my endeavours to make you famous, oh yes

u would not want to live ur life depending on the mood swings of google

you wouldn’t want to live your life as a corporate whore either so i guess the grass, as always, is yellow, burnt, and un cow worthy on our sides of the fence