Posted by: seanmalstrom | December 1, 2009

Email: Not hate mail

You seem to be getting a lot of negative e-mail lately so I thought I’d send you something a little nicer.

I’d just like to let you know that I’ve been a fan of yours since I first read your Birdman article two summers ago. I check your site every day as soon as I can and I’ve learned a lot from it.

I’ve recently finished The Blue Ocean Strategy as well as The Innovator’s Dilemma and I’ve enjoyed reading them both.

Its odd. I used to think that business was boring. I can’t say why, its just one of those things that are stereotypically boring. After reading what you’ve written, I must say I was wrong. I’ve found business more interesting that almost anything.

I don’t have any specific question to ask or anything. I just wanted to thank you for teaching people like me without getting or expecting anything in return.

So thank you.

I thank you for the gesture, but I like the hate mail. Hate mail is when someone is so passionate that they write to you about it. I highlight hate mail and put it up. If you are not being criticized, then you are not doing anything.

I also get much ‘praise mail’ too.

I don’t put everything people send me up on this site. Not at all. One thing I notice is if the poster is trying too hard in his email to get put on the site. These are the emails that do NOT go up.

No one knows whether their email will go up or not. But once I started putting up emails, the emails became much better written with proper punctuation! (laughs)

Most people talk about the past. Journalists talk about the present. But it is investors and businessmen who talk about the future. I am interested in the future. The past is referred to because it gives us a pattern of which the future might be. It is fun to talk about the future and is sort of a type of game. You can be very wrong at it!

By trying to get into the future, the problem is that many people are in the present. You end up talking about events that have not occurred. You are already in conclusions which others have not gotten to yet.

For example, way back when I first started putting stuff up, the Wiikly columns (prior to the Wii’s launch) were all about how Wii was going to burst onto the scene and end the hardcore. There were people who hated me for doing that. But then it becomes present and the hate vanishes (on that subject at least). With “Birdman”, I said all these ‘casual games’ are going to crash. At that time period, everyone was saying ‘casual games were the future!’ But now the idea of casual games crashing is present. When I was railing about User Generated Content and how Nintendo can kiss the Wii goodbye if they continue it, many people were confused at why I was saying this since before the website resembled a Nintendo cheerleader type vibe and many got angry at me. But the Wii crashed to Earth very fast not soon after, and Nintendo is still trying to repair the damage.

It is not that I have a crystal ball. It is because I am trying to learn the business ways and this requires seeing into the future. Nintendo, for example, was able to see into the future by creating the Wii in the first place. All video game software requires being able to see into the future since it takes around two years for each one to be made. Guys like Reggie and all have to see what is happening in the future and plan accordingly.

One of the reasons why the recession is lasting so long is because businesses are not able to plan for the future (and invest in expansion and all). The other side of business is law. If laws are radically and rapidly changing, businesses will hold still. This is why thriving economies occur in nations with stable governments.

There are some people who think I should talk only the “business” side and not mention anything about gaming. But here’s the rub, that is in the ‘business’ side too. Also, I think it is important to talk about gaming more. Everywhere else, they talk about “industry” and the gossip within that. The “Game Industry” doesn’t talk about games anymore (if they ever did). Why is this game successful? Why is that game successful? Why did that game fail?

One thing that is not apparent to the reader is that many of the ‘off wall’ observations I make are actually rooted in something else. Let us say I come up with a Crazy Theory of Gaming. I never say Crazy Theory of Gaming just to say it. It is often based on other entertainment. I see the rules of entertainment as all fully the same. Even master entertainers can hop from one entertainment form to another. A radio mastermind, Orson Welles, can easily hop into movies and with his first movie he ever directed make “Citizen Kane”. Gaming, which is still in its infancy, will likely be predicted by other entertainment. I’ve noticed many in the “Game Industry” cite movies, but no one cites books, radio, or music. To many people, it probably appears I am using my site as a blow horn for my personal opinion. But these ideas are based on something else. Most of it is vague theories because this is the New World. Unlike other entertainment industries, there are no established truths about gaming yet. Well, there are with companies like Nintendo, Blizzard, and all but those are trade secrets, and they are keeping their mouth shut on them.

If there is something in gaming that is rarely praised, I think it ought to be praised (if it deserves) if only to break the cycle. Likewise, if something in gaming is always praised, I’ll try to remove it from its pedestal. For example, this is why I’ve been sharpening criticism on Ocarina of Time. It is not because I hate the game, I like it well enough. It is because no game is “perfect”, and I think in order for series like Zelda to grow that it needs to be able to break free from the past. Gaming dies if we stop questioning its premises. In the Age of Disruption, we need to continually challenge our assumptions. Assume…. Ass = U + Me

When I say something like: “Miyamoto isn’t a genius, it is that everyone else just sucks,” isn’t aimed to belittle Miyamoto or anyone else, but to hopefully point people to the horizon again. As long as there are more non-gamers than gamers, gaming has still not come of age. This is what the Blue Ocean is really all about. The “Game Industry” gets in a tizzy about who is on top during the next sales chart with their horse-race fixation, but misses the big picture. The “Game Industry” is two ants fighting over a leaf while a gigantic jungle surrounds them.

Here are some of my end goals as to where I want the blog posts and all to lead…

-People becoming interested in business matters and want to learn more.
-Jaded gamers and ambitious developers to begin exploring making their own game company and make games.
-Re-create the 1980s era sense that any gamer has the ability to make a game should he/she desire it enough.
-Turn discussion more on gaming and less on Industry.
-Clean up “pollution”. “Pollution” is things that are spread that are simply false. Much “pollution” is caused by viral messengers who are ‘polluting’ wholesome and pure discussion by gamers.
-Turn the despair and fear of depression around toward ferocious anticipation and encouragement about the future. Remember that Nolan Bushnell began Atari in the economic bad times of the 1970s. If you ever learn one thing from Reggie Fils-Aime, it is that you should be optimistic about the future.
-Challenge premises. If something is on a pedestal, I take it off. If something is constantly kicked on the ground, I pick it up.

I don’t like what has become of gaming and how it is discussed online. So when everyone, including analysts, ignored (intentionally) Nintendo’s business strategy, I decided I was tired of this behavior and wrote about what Nintendo was doing when others were not. I don’t like discussion of gaming to be entirely focused on the “industry” so I try to talk more about games. I’m perplexed that there isn’t more discussion as to why previous games are magical so I try to talk about that and what reasons caused the game to become ‘magical’.

I like putting up hate mail just to show that even people who hate Malstrom still read him. How often do you find that?


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