I entered that contest Bioware was having. Did you hear about that? The one where you write a dialogue centered module using their tools, and maybe they give you a job writing their actual games? Invigorating! There are plenty of challenges where gamers are exhorted to produce their finest maps and so forth, their finest software - tasks so removed from my own experience as to be mythical trials.
If you entered a piece into this contest, I do feel a little bad. They might not even get to yours because they may still be writhing on the floor, overwhelmed by the torrent of pleasure sprayed by my own epic product: The Black Barn of Horesion. Something happened in that charred stable a hundred years ago - and within it neighs a waiting doom.
What Bioware is doing here is highly unorthodox, if not out and out unprecedented. Stories occupy a debased strata of development priorities already, and the execution of those stories clings for dear life on a rung far below, foot very close to the black crust that has hardened over a cauldron of burning magma. They have other shit to worry about, I don’t blame them. All the same, it was interesting to see a company move in this way, fishing for authors right out of the community.
Many people were curious about the revelations of one Mr. Smith we posted recently, revelations authorized only for agents whose sec-prot threshhold is Delta or higher. His seismic expose rocked the very foundations of the thing that we are talking about. I cast my net again recently, and came up with this tasty little cracker:
Wanna know about marketing, ask a Marketer. Here’s a couple nifty bits for ya:
1) I have in my possession a marketing plan for NBA LIVE 2004 (don’t ask how I got it… ). This marketing plan actually refers to "Hiring viral specialists to advocate NBA Live online via chat rooms targeting gaming fan sites" and "Placing offensive, defensive and PR shills into common gaming chat arenas." It goes on to outline a full page of tactics for said "Guerilla Online Marketing for Core Gamers."
2) I actually hired a company called Hype Council (http://www.hypecouncil.com). These guys do a TON of gaming related stuff—I actually wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the company referred to in your news post. Their technique is quite insidious. Let’s say they were hired to pump up PA (not like you need the buzz, but whatever…). Using one of the hundreds of shill accounts they have across the net, they post a new thread that says something like "hey guys, I’ve been looking for some new web comics to read. Anybody have any recommendations?" This is non-threatening, and gets the community engaged. They then wait a couple days and post again, this time with "Well, I asked some friends and they suggested I check out Penny Arcade <insert link>. I thought it was pretty funny, although I didn’t like all the cuss words. What do you guys think?" Again, seeking engagement, they now have stealthily inserted the client’s link, thereby encouraging trial. It’s all very measurable and very effective. You should see the monthly reports you get from these guys: everything is detailed. Spooky.
It’s all very insidious and, I’m sure, widespread. So much so that I don’t trust anything I read. Unless it’s a board where I "know" the posters, I always assume everyone on the board is a shill.
[End Somewhat Terrifying Message]
I fully expect to check under my bed, and find there scurrying the manifold agents of my enemy.