What do I say about *myself* if I buy, and play, your game?

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  • edited April 2010
    Posted By: Todd LI am accusing 'marketing' of violating respectful distance-- via intrusive, duplicitous behavior; disguised helping me or being my friend.
    I'm willing to accept that point of view as valid where one can assume the existence of such a distance. But, thing is, I don't accept that such a thing as "respectful distance" normally exists when communication is taking place.

    You find it creepy for one person to get into the head of another person, and that seems odd to me. Not because it doesn't take place - it absolutely does. But because that's the usual state of affairs, from my viewpoint. We're in one another's heads all the time, every time we communicate.

    And, yes, an huge segment of communication has "buy this!" or, to get more general, "buy into this!" as the motive behind it. That's a real thing.

    But from where I sit, once this becomes visible, either we can spend our time running away from the possibility of 'selling out'. Or we can live in the world we have, warts, all, looking for approaches that do good things without doing harm.

    Communication means being in each other's heads. Your parking-lot-rape analogy is in my head; it's not without effects. Why did you decide to use your time in my head to throw that image around?
    Posted By: wburdickHere's just an observation: this thread is no longer about marketing. Itismarketing, and some of it is aggressive.
    By the implied definition in the first post, it always was. I asked people to consider "If this is true, then what else is true?". Which is a request to frame your thinking in the form described.

    And so are most posts, in most threads, by the same definition.
  • Well...that's probably a lot like the weird mindfuck you get when you discover someone is a psychologist. Are they dissecting me? Am I having a real conversation with this person or am I being analyzed? Can I be honest with this person or will some slip of the tongue reveal my deepest secrets?

    The short version: Marketing (like psychology) isn't magic powers. It's not coercive. Again, read the wikipedia entry. Bill Burdick, I encourage you to scroll up a bit and find that link. You will hopefully see that your definition of marketing -- "the use of persuasion to sell products, advance agendas and ideologies, etc." -- is incorrect. Or at least incomplete.

    On (effectively) being called a liar by Todd: speaking of maintaining respectful distance, please don't do that.

    I promise I have nothing personal to gain from sharing my story, other than to clarify what marketing is and is not. It's not like *anyone* in the indie gaming scene has the budget to afford this stuff. OTOH I've handed out many, many hours of free advice to folks who simply don't understand how to connect their creations to an audience. Again, I'm just not seeing how this is intrusive, duplicitious or anything else. If you're not sure, just follow the money. Who's gaining what?

    The whole "marketing is eeevil and must not be trusted" thing is just so tiresome. It's precisely the same space as "all cops are pigs" and "lawyers are scumbags" and "government can't be trusted" and all the other generalizations. It's lazy and dishonest, and it does the OP a disservice.

    On that note, what possible motivation could the marketing-bashers have when they have no stake in how Levi markets his playthings? Social cred? Looking cool to strangers? A sincere interest in protecting poor innocent bystanders from...what? Being sold a plaything. Heavens.
  • Posted By: Paul BThe short version: Marketing (like psychology) isn't magic powers. It's not coercive. Again, read the wikipedia entry. Bill Burdick, I encourage you to scroll up a bit and find that link. You will hopefully see that your definition of marketing -- "the use of persuasion to sell products, advance agendas and ideologies, etc." -- is incorrect. Or at least incomplete.
    I did read it (after I posted) and I agree that mine was an incomplete definition (it's like a portion of the AMA definition).

    Anyway, my (probably not too subtle) point was that the people who say they are against marketing here are trying to convince other people to take their point of view. Which is advocacy. Which is marketing -- they're trying to find, in this market of readers here, other people who will support their position and convert people of different positions to their position. Would that profit them? Yes, I think it would. I think there is a real profit motive going on there.

    I'm not trying to point fingers and call people hypocrites, I'm just trying to say that it doesn't look like people are actually objecting to marketing here, it really looks like they're objecting to dishonest or unethical behavior which they associate with marketing.

    I brought up The Space Gamer, because gamers loved reading magazines like it and Strategy & Tactics. These were marketing vehicles, like all "house organs" are. Like all house organs, however, they also contain valuable stuff. Kind of like Story-Games does. There's this "directed self promotion" category for marketing here. Do all these people who just hate marketing want to get rid of this category on Story-Games? How do they think people should find out about anything anyone does?

    I, for one, want to hear from the game designers here about what they're doing and I hope some of them do some good marketing and try to find out what kinds of games we're interested in playing -- I'm happy to provide marketing feedback to them because I want to buy interesting games.
  • Posted By: Paul BI promise I have nothing personal to gain from sharing my story, other than to clarify what marketing is and is not.
    But you do, Paul. Perhaps not financially, that's true, but nobody likes to think other people hate their profession.
  • edited April 2010
    Wait, so if you are a creative director, graphic designer, writer, print and web interface user tester, who has done work in analytics...

    ...you can't be trusted?

    Because in many companies those fall under marketing. And when I used to do marketing, that's mostly what I was doing. Designing images and user interfaces. Like websites, iphone apps, and other tools.

    Marketing is a pretty wide field. Are the people who design D&D covers bad to? I guess it depends on which edition :-)

    I have friends who are therapists, psychologists, lawyers, police, union workers, and government employees who used to never tell people what they did unless they knew them really well. I never understood why but they would tell me horror stories of ruined first impressions once someone knew they were a therapist. I've come very close myself to no longer saying I work in marketing and sticking to my actual job title as creative director or head of digital & creative.

    In terms of neuroscience and how the brain works, that and semiotics were all areas I've read about in my own journey for truth and understanding people. I had a very hard life growing up, my immediate family were victims of WW2, poor and homeless for several years, and then frequently victimized as gullible immigrants new to America. The things I saw people do to my parents horrified me. Once they got on their feet and opened up a restaurant (yes, they were Greek, and yes they started a diner) the local mafia had arsonists burn down their business. It was always astonishing to me what people are capable of. Later I had friends join cults who seemed to have control over them I couldn't possibly begin to understand. So I spent a lot of time studying anti-coercion techniques, media literacy, ethics, and semiotics. And I've helped a lot of friends in these situations.

    My interest in psychology isn't about marketing. It's about understanding why people do bad things. My involvement in marketing was due to my love of art (I'm a classically trained illustrator) and comics. The parts I hate about marketing and avoid, I'm aware and sensitive to because I understand how serious these issues are and because of how important fairness and truth are to me. So you can imagine how frustrating it is for me to be somehow categorized with dishonest people who buy and sell people's emails. That's so alien to me I can't even begin to explain or understand.

    Todd, when we first met at CampNerdly, I talked about nerdnyc for 2 minutes because Emily Care Boss asked me to and said you wanted to know about nerdnyc. Beyond that, I barely talked about nerdnyc. I spent the rest of the time talking to you about art and then defending your enjoyment of burlesque after someone at the table called it sexist because of some cards you had that feminist friends of mine also had. Not much marketing going on there (and as I mentioned above, I'm mainly a creative director, and sometimes that falls within marketing departments).

    In terms of nerdnyc, it's a non profit, highly transparent, with leaders and organizers made up dedicated people in the community. It's something where in the past I spent my own money helping other people meet new people to game with since when you first move to NYC it can be intimidating and lonely.
  • edited April 2010
    Everything you say is 100% true, John.

    My post would be totally paranoid, without your post to complete the picture.

    Wait, so if you are a creative director, graphic designer, writer, print and web interface user tester, who has done work in analytics...

    ...you can't be trusted?


    Yes. That is what I'm saying.

    Levi asked an intimate question.
    When some of the replies above contained an element of hostility,
    a contingent of marketing professionals took umbrage. This strikes me as unprofessional.
    I mean-- isn't it really common for marketers to get a wildly negative reaction to their queries?
    Aren't good marketers supposed to cooly listen to the angry replies, rather than stoop to personal defensiveness?

    I attribute the defensiveness to a personalized identification with the ethos of marketing. And yes-- all those marketing-related fields you listed are apt to adopt a marketing worldview (not unlike how embeded journalists in 2003 found themselves agreeing with the Pentagon's POV?)

    Likewise the story games community is going to be skewed toward certain biases. Example: given the prevalence of .pdf creators here, it's to be expected that certain views on intellectual property are prevalent.

    Some parts of this community share class interests,class viewpoints, and agendas.
    And those agendas may collide with other parts of the community.
    If anyone wants to use marketing tools to locate the exact points of friction, fine.
    But if the next step, upon locating the friction, is to raise hackles and fight until marketing 'wins',
    how is that different from any other point-of-view that positions itself as the One True Way and attempts to pave-over dissenting opinions?

    I know that none of this is news.
    I'm not telling you this to school you.
    I'm saying it to demonstrate that my position isn't as wildly inane as it might seem, had I said a bit less.
    Posted By: Paul B
    On that note, what possible motivation could the marketing-bashers have when they have no stake in how Levi markets his playthings? Social cred? Looking cool to strangers? A sincere interest in protecting poor innocent bystanders from...what?
    Here's what Bill Hicks says to that:


    I know what all the marketing people are thinking right now too, "Oh, you know what Bill's doing, he's going for that anti-marketing dollar. That's a good market, he's very smart."

    Oh man, I am not doing that. You fucking evil scumbags!

    "Ooh, you know what Bill's doing now, he's going for the righteous indignation dollar. That's a big dollar. A lot of people are feeling that indignation. We've done research - huge market. He's doing a good thing."

    Godammit, I'm not doing that, you scum-bags! Quit putting a godamm dollar sign on every fucking thing on this planet!

    "Ooh, the anger dollar. Huge. Huge in times of recession. Giant market, Bill's very bright to do that."

    God, I'm just caught in a fucking web.

    "Ooh the trapped dollar, big dollar, huge dollar. Good market - look at our research. We see that many people feel trapped. If we play to that and then separate them into the trapped dollar..."

    How do you live like that? And I bet you sleep like fucking babies at night, don't you?

    "What didya do today honey?"

    "Oh, we made ah, we made ah arsenic a childhood food now, goodnight." [snores] "Yeah we just said you know is your baby really too loud? You know?" [snores] "Yeah, you know the mums will love it." [snores]

    Sleep like fucking children, don't ya, this is your world isn't it?
  • Posted By: Levi KornelsenIf this is true, then what else is true?
    Something else I thought of: This foundation leads pretty naturally to the practice of market research. It's the science that displaces superstition.

    Should my book have a pink cover? Other than superstition and wild-assed guesses, the only way to answer a question like that is through research. To be more specific, to answer that business question. Answering that aesthetic question is a different ball of wax, and something I'm happy to leave out of the rapidly-expanding scope of this thread.

    (The story behind the research and design of Diaspora's packaging is really interesting, by the by.)

    And it's vital to answering that most fundamental of all marketing questions: How much should my product cost?
  • Posted By: Todd L
    When some of the replies above contained an element of hostility,
    a contingent of marketing professionals took umbrage. This strikes me as unprofessional.
    I mean-- isn't it really common for marketers to get a wildly negative reaction to their queries?
    Aren't good marketers supposed to cooly listen to the angry replies, rather than stoop to personal defensiveness?
    He isn't here as a marketer.

    He is here as a gamer.

    And you're telling him that he's evil and then wondering why he isn't listening coolly?

    Really?
  • Posted By: jenskotI have friends who are therapists, psychologists, lawyers, police, union workers, and government employees who used to never tell people what they did unless they knew them really well.
    I would respond that unlike therapists, etc. (though maybe not that unlike lawyers, he said abashedly), the average American is exposed to around 3,000 ads per day - that's 3,000 marketers screaming at us in bright colors, loud noises and capitalized words every day of our lives, every moment we are in public someone is selling us something, much of the time when we are in "private", that time too belongs to marketing. The number keeps going up. 6,000 doesn't seem impossible to you, does it? 20,000? After all, 3,000 is only the average. And everywhere we turn, it's reaching out for more and more things. It chokes us, it strangles us, it pollutes the air, the air-waves, the conversation, the music, the very sky is not complete without a few billboards stacked against it with the faces of realtors smiling benignly down like your favorite pagan god might. But this is not the thread, and it isn't my point, nor has it ever been.

    I select a volume of Dickens from the shelf - the cover is marketing, the font is marketing, the name "Charles Dickens" is marketing, and now Levi tells me that my selection of Dickens over Hugo, or Elmore Leonard is not just me picking out what I want to read, but is best interpreted as a response to marketing, as though I wish to commune not with Charles Dickens or even Little Nell, but with the publisher's design man, and tell him and the world what sort of man I am that would choose Dickens at this point in my life. No, I just want to read some Dickens, in peace, perhaps the bit where he wrote, "There are books of which the backs and covers are by far the best parts." Can anyone think that this statement is praising the commercial worthiness of the backs and covers of books rather than criticizing the artistry of the parts in between?

    Fine, I get it, the war against marketing is over and marketing won, by a score of 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 to 0. We live in the best of all possible worlds, if you don't believe it, wait until the commercial break and someone will tell you what to buy so that it can be. But can't I at least choose not to be a marketer? Can't I just enjoy something without it being my identity - an identity which I am selling to others? Can't I buy and play a game without saying something about myself? Can't I choose to remain mum, or enjoy something on its artistic merits, rather than my own commercial one? Is it too much to ask that I not be drafted into this apparently endlessly escalating war between business and the fruits of my labor? I'm already targeted by 3,000 weapons a day, am I not allowed to throw down my own and say, no, I do not wish to fight? Is everything really about me?
  • Wanna know how had great marketing?

    Hitler!

    Wanna know who else had great marketing?

    Ghandi!

    I found the opening post of this thread repugnant. The idea of creating an identity through what you buy just really rubs me the wrong way.
  • If this is true, what else is true?

    Well, for starters, it means I'm doing this all the time, whether I know it or not, whether I consciously consider it or not. So knowing and considering it mean that I can be more aware of the identity that I'm forming, and work toward forming it in ways that are more satisfying to me. This includes, but is not limited to, forming my identity less on what I buy, and more on other things.

    It means that other people's picture of my identity is forming through every interaction with them, whether I like it or not, or know it or not. Knowing it means that I can work toward purposefully interacting in ways that are more satisfying to me. This includes, but is not limited to, being authentic in ways that will convey that authenticity well to others.

    Posted By: Judd
    I found the opening post of this thread repugnant. The idea of creating an identity through what you buy just really rubs me the wrong way.
    Judd, DUDE.

    1) The value I'm getting from this thread is the idea that it's not the things you BUY per se but rather everything you do. Including buying things, but also including conversations and organized activities and making art and all kinds of stuff! So, given that, how do the games you A) give attention to and/or B) buy, fit into that constantly forming picture of yourself--both the picture that YOU see and the pictures that OTHERS see? Interesting anecdote--when I first got into Indie games I started bringing them to D&D night, as if having them laying around or even just in my bag, talisman-like would change my gaming interactions. It's good to be aware of stuff like that.

    2) Its not about money! Money's involved but we're also talking about comletely non-commercial, non-financial interactions!

    3) How is it OK to crap on Levi's thread, with Hitler, no less? That's rough on those of us who are getting value from his ideas and questions.

    Peace,
    -Joel
  • Yeah, the way RPGs and which RPGs we play are incorporated into our identity is really interesting. It's clear that what we choose to play is, to some gamers, a very important component of our identity. The same with what we watch, what we read. I think that's why system arguments get so emotional. That's not just a game I play that you're criticizing, that's ME.
  • edited April 2010
    Posted By: JuddI found the opening post of this thread repugnant. The idea of creating an identity through what you buy just really rubs me the wrong way.
    Yeah, that idea rubs me the wrong way too. I just can't find it anywhere in Levi's post.
    Posted By: Levi KornelsenLet's talk about marketing for a moment.

    Here's the base state:I don't care all that much about your game; you don't care all that much about mine.
    OK, that's about whether I care about a game or not.
    The more I look at it, the more it seems that what people stop and look at, the game they pick up and open, the one they learn to care about? They picked that game because it shows signs of "things I'd like to be associated with", or "things I could be and do in the context of play".
    Does this talk about creating an identity? No, it talks about revealing an identity that's already there.
    I don't care about the game you made; in and of itself. I care aboutme. And your game might, or might not, slot into the story I tell myself about my life and my identity.
    OK, expressing my identity, not defining it there...
    I might buy an indie games for the indie-ness, this week. I might avoid doing so next week. I might buy it because you wrote it, or avoid it for the same reason. This is true of any identifier you care to slap on a game. Complaining about either one means you don't understand, bone deep, that even when I'm buying a game because you wrote it, I'm not buying it for you; I'm buying it because in the story I tell myself about who I am, I buy games from cool people that I like. In this, I am an entirely normal consumer.
    "I tell myself about who I am" -- more about how what I do reveals my identity.
    Follow me so far?
    Well, I think I do...
    Okay.

    If this is true, then what else is true?
    That's the question. I missed the part about how I buy stuff in order to define my identity.
  • Posted By: Bret GillanI think that's why system arguments get so emotional. That's not just a game I play that you're criticizing, that's ME.
    Yes. In addition, people are usually bad at understanding and articulating why they like things, even to themselves (that whole emotional decision following by rationalization thing), so defensive reactions are even more likely. The ideas people build up in their heads about their preferences (and identities) can easily be very fragile.
  • Okay, Bill.

    I find the act of revealing our identity through consumerism repugnant.

    That is not an attack on Levi. This is not an attack on this thread. It is saying that Levi is wrestling with things that just squick me right out.

    The Ghandi/Hitler stuff was a mocking poke at all of the marketing = evil stuff.
  • Posted By: wburdickI'm not trying to point fingers and call people hypocrites, I'm just trying to say that it doesn't look like people are actually objecting to marketing here, it really looks like they're objecting to dishonest or unethical behavior which they associate with marketing.
    Oh man I wish that were true! I don't think anyone would object to the thesis that bad people doing bad things is bad.

    I think this whole thread went off the rails the moment John invoked brain science. What the hell, the limbic system? I knew those fuckers would stop at nothing to sell their wares!

    Invoking science is scary if you don't understand the science. It's all fancy words and new ideas, and it's no surprise that people get scared around it. And in a perfect example of the very science we're talking about, those scared people rationalize their fear. The fact that (some) marketers know something about theories of decision-making becomes a justification, a rationale for their prejudices. And then Bill Hicks gets name-checked, other Bill Hicks fans (me included!) feel reassured that Todd L is an in-the-know hipster just like me/you/him/her, and ignorant people are no less ignorant.

    Because many of us are gamers-of-a-certain-persuasion, let me bounce this old chestnut off all y'all: Theories about brain science and decisionmaking are descriptive, not prescriptive. Will some folks try to use brain science in a prescriptive way? Sure, you bet. Does it work? Not ethically, if you're trying to use those tools to lie more effectively.

    Similarly, Big Model talk invokes a similar level of dread among (many) gamers, particularly the ignorant ones. It's all fancy words and new ideas, and it's no surprise that people get scared around it. And you explain to them "but it's just descriptive! It doesn't work very well as a prescriptive theory!" But the fear is already there, the prejudices have already taken hold, and all that's left to do is tear down the theory and the personalities involved.

    (NB I wonder how people would feel about brain science being used prescriptively in game design?)

    Jeff Z proposed that I do have something to gain, and it's true that nobody likes having their profession hated (lawyers might; the ones I know have a warped sense of humor). But I thought about that a bit. You know what it really is that bugs me? I don't like the possibility of being associated with ignorant, scared people. The odds of that are vanishingly small in the real world -- there are like five Arizonans on s-g and I've already met most of them. But there's the larger affinity group of participants on this board and gamers in general. So in brain-science-speak: my emotions are affinity and embarrassment and my rationale is that if only I can educate people, I will feel less discomfort at the possibility of being associated with these people.

    I've always freely shared my own personal theories and experiences with marketing. My business is built on radical transparency and honesty -- marketing, web development, analytics are all sacred priesthoods and I FUCKING HATE SACRED PRIESTHOODS. My clients and friends make better and more sustainable decisions when they are well informed.

    Anyway, there it is.

    Jason is right that we are constantly, perpetually surrounded by persuasion efforts. Would you not be better armed to identify and reject the unethical ones if you better understood the science of what your own brain does with them?
  • edited April 2010
    Posted By: JuddI find the act of revealing our identity through consumerism repugnant.
    As the *sole* expression of identity, yeah, sure.

    As *part of* an expression of identity that's probably true. I play games that speak to who I am as a person.

    Sorcerer - Because it's about my frustrated arrogance.
    My Life with Master - Because it's about my fascination with romantic cruelty.
    Dirty Secrets - Because I like exploring the everyday evil that lurks in the hearts of men.
    Dogs in the Vineyard - Because faith's noble intentions and usually disastrous ends is curious.

    And so on...

    There once a time where I realized that I spend a lot of time hiding who I am from my co-workers. I wanted change that so I brought a who bunch of my 18th Century Gothic novels and put them on my desk to both broadcast a little of who I am to passer bys and spark conversation.

    I don't see anything wrong with that.

    Jesse
  • If this is true, then what else is true?

    I was thinking Bikers buy Bikes, mods buy Mopeds, and get stuck in that identity!

    I can’t buy an RPG and get stuck in that one RPG, cuss I cant find a fucker that will do that!

    So I cant pin this RPG stuff to me it keeps dropping off, not creating the buzz! For a better word.

    I am not stuck like a biker or happy or specializing like them.

    I'm creative moving in constant change! RPG's can’t keep up with me!!! Or are RPG’s moving and creative and I can’t keep up with them?

    If only I was a biker!! Yea Man

    RPG is the best marketing idea!!!! Its like the philosophers stone.
  • Posted By: JuddOkay, Bill.

    I find the act of revealing our identity through consumerism repugnant.

    That is not an attack on Levi. This is not an attack on this thread. It is saying that Levi is wrestling with things that just squick me right out.

    The Ghandi/Hitler stuff was a mocking poke at all of the marketing = evil stuff.
    Levi was talking a lot about what you can learn about yourself by observing what you do. Is that repugnant? OK, maybe it is. In any event, your choices, habits, and mannerisms, in no matter what area, the way you eat, how you interact with people, what you buy, ... do reveal things about you. Ask your friends, I'm sure they've noticed interesting things about you based on what you do. If you look at some Sherlock Holmes stories, you'll see that this is a big topic there. How your buying habits reveal things about you is only the tip of the iceberg. If revealing things about yourself gives you the creeps, you'll have to take some pretty drastic steps to avoid that.
  • Posted By: JuddThat is not an attack on Levi. This is not an attack on this thread. It is saying that Levi is wrestling with things that just squick me right out.
    You know what?

    I think I'm getting this.

    Sitting around and visualising the fact that your physical body is engaging in the equivalent of germ warfare, internally, all the goddamn time, is a bit weird. But it's there.

    I'm saying that your identity is likewise an endless field of action, subject to and to some degree composed of ideas rooted in and sourced from persuasion, much of that persuasion commercial. That, when Jason asks "Can't I just decide not to fight?", I am in fact saying "No, not really. You're in this whether or not you like it, whether you have a pitch or not."

    And I'm saying that's normal, natural, the usual state of affairs, wth the implication that we as gamers and game-producers should act with this kind of thing in mind.

    Yeah, I can see the squicky.

    (Also: Hitler had great Graphic Design. Ghandi had good word-of-mouth buzz. Therefore, obviously, it's the graphic designers we should be angry at.)
  • Partial topic spin-off! Here.
  • Posted By: JDCorleyCan't I just enjoy something without it being my identity - an identity which I am selling to others? Can't I buy and play a game without saying something about myself?
    I'm afraid not. That's how Google got rich.
    Posted By: JDCorleyIs everything really about me?
    When the rule of capital is complete, ME is all that's left.
  • edited April 2010
    OK, so here's a thing:

    In his original post Levi never used the word "marketing." He just talked about some stuff, which included people paying money for games but also some other stuff, such as people reading games for free.

    Joe was the first person to say "marketing" and it looks like he was using it to mean something like "present a game such that people are interested in playing it" and not, say, "professional marketing tactics that are specifically designed to separate consumers from their dollars."

    Now, the fact that he's using a capitalist metaphor? That's a thing, and a problematic one obviously. It's also super-common, like when you try to convince your buddy that no, man, what's REALLY going on in Star Wars is that it's way in the FUTURE, and Coruscant is Earth after we've paved over the whole planet and expanded throughout the galaxy, and it's a cautionary tale for future civilizations, and your buddy's like, "sorry man, I'm just not sold on that."

    Common, yeah, permeating society, even. But being common doesn't make it any less problematic. In fact that's partly WHY it's problematic.

    I've noticed a weird and disturbing thing happen for me. Like, this rant by Bill Hicks:
    Posted By: Todd LI know what all the marketing people are thinking right now too, "Oh, you know what Bill's doing, he's going for that anti-marketing dollar. That's a good market, he's very smart."

    Oh man, I am not doing that. You fucking evil scumbags!

    "Ooh, you know what Bill's doing now, he's going for the righteous indignation dollar. That's a big dollar. A lot of people are feeling that indignation. We've done research - huge market. He's doing a good thing."

    Godammit, I'm not doing that, you scum-bags! Quit putting a godamm dollar sign on every fucking thing on this planet!

    "Ooh, the anger dollar. Huge. Huge in times of recession. Giant market, Bill's very bright to do that."

    God, I'm just caught in a fucking web.

    "Ooh the trapped dollar, big dollar, huge dollar. Good market - look at our research. We see that many people feel trapped. If we play to that and then separate them into the trapped dollar..."

    How do you live like that? And I bet you sleep like fucking babies at night, don't you?

    "What didya do today honey?"

    "Oh, we made ah, we made ah arsenic a childhood food now, goodnight." [snores] "Yeah we just said you know is your baby really too loud? You know?" [snores] "Yeah, you know the mums will love it." [snores]

    Sleep like fucking children, don't ya, this is your world isn't it?
    ...and this rant by JD:
    Posted By: JDCorleythe average American is exposed to around 3,000 ads per day - that's 3,000 marketers screaming at us in bright colors, loud noises and capitalized words every day of our lives, every moment we are in public someone is selling us something, much of the time when we are in "private", that time too belongs to marketing. The number keeps going up. 6,000 doesn't seem impossible to you, does it? 20,000? After all, 3,000 is only theaverage. And everywhere we turn, it's reaching out for more and more things. It chokes us, it strangles us, it pollutes the air, the air-waves, the conversation, the music, the very sky is not complete without a few billboards stacked against it with the faces of realtors smiling benignly down like your favorite pagan god might.
    ...are both railing against a thing that I too, hate, that I chafe under and lose sleep over. I fear the death of privacy, of advertisements in dreams, of the Gap scanning my retinas to pull up my purchasing history when I walk through the door. I seethe in fury at arsenic sold for children, and a million other such crimes. Yet I've been painted into the corner of (seemingly) defending "marketing" because I accepted that capitalist metaphor in the course of the thread, and nodded along with some good ideas that were couched in those terms, and alluvasudden some folks charged in with a negative, invasive, even abusive model of "marketing" based on some very cynical and unethical practices, and I find the ground's shifted under me and I find that in wanting to find better ways to be authentic AND communicate that authenticity I've been "made" to defend something I hate.

    My point in all that is: the capitalist metaphor is OBVIOUSLY tripping people up. And the more I think about it, in the awful light Jeff Zahari and others have exposed it to, I'm really not feeling great about it myself. And no matter how many times people say "I don't think we're using 'marketing' to mean the same thing," that very unfavorable vision of the concept simply WILL NOT GO AWAY.

    It's impeding discussion. So I'm abandoning it. Joe's abandoning it by starting a new thread; I'm abandoning it by just not using the word "marketing." What word should I replace it with? I don't know; maybe "personal statement"? That's what Levi started with, more or lkess, and maybe if we cal it something like that we can get the haters off our backs.

    Peace,
    -Joel
  • edited April 2010
    Posted By: JoelIn his original post Levi never used the word "marketing."
    Wait, what? It was in the first sentence. Although it was notably absent thereafter, so you're still keen. Money-stuff is not exclusively what I was talking about, at all.
  • Oop, you're right. I went and reviewed it, and musta skipped right over to the italic statement. :P

    I definitely remember not processing it when originally reading, 'cuz when Joe brought it up I had a thought like "oh! Yeah marketing it one way to think about it, sure."

    But anyway.
  • edited April 2010
    The wikipedia entry on marketing says that marketing emerged due to overcapacity in production in recent centuries.

    There was more supply than demand, so it became necessary to locate or create demand to consume supply.

    "In order to stay profitable", it says.

    That implies that marketing tampers with the invisible hand of capitalism.

    Instead of "you aren't profitable, so quit,"

    marketing says, "Keep trying! Find a way to sell this thing nobody seems to want."

    There will Always be some producer on the edge of failure, desperately tempted to embrace bad faith means to avoid failure.

    In the case of our little game community, supply exceeds demand.

    I'd contend that marketing models which are profit-based will not succeed for as many games and makers-
    as models-of-success which are not profit-based.

    I think Nerdly and Jiffycon are better paths than Gencon, for example.

    Another example: freelance artists who adhere to their profession's standards of compensation--
    will constantly be disappointed that the story-game market generally-won't make their efforts profitable.

    Whereas other models, such as amateur FanArt... or a contest/lottery model of compensation...
    are more viable.

    The fact that -some- game makers are able to turn a profit Doing What They Do doesn't mean that the bulk will Ever be able to follow suit.
  • Posted By: Todd LThere will Always be some producer on the edge of failure, desperately tempted to embrace bad faith means to avoid failure.

    In the case of our little game community, supply exceeds demand.
    These two statements together imply that there's a pressure on game makers in the community to market in bad faith.

    And it's not an unreasonable conclusion... However! It has two assumptions I'd dig at as "Waitaminute":

    1) That there's serious competition in the marketing of these games. And, honestly, I'd say that independent game producers are presently marketing so little that this isn't true - at least not yet. The firing gun might conceivably have gone off, but if there's a race to the bottom to be had, it hasn't raced that far, yet. For myself, in marketing, I'm flailing clumsily, not plotting carefully.

    2) That the people making these games believe bad-faith marketing serves their interests. And that's tricky. I'd argue that it's less-true, simply because indpendent and small-press game producers live on "the long tail". Living there means that reviews, actual play discussions, and other such stuff beats advertising hands down - and faking that stuff is a recipe for distastrous eye-rolling.
  • You're right. There is not currently such a pressure, because (as you say) there's not a serious attempt to profit.

    The only way oversupply currently affects this community, is if people feel like failures because they aren't getting the affirmation of the market.
  • 2) That the people making these games believe bad-faith marketing serves their interests. And that's tricky. I'd argue that it's less-true, simply because indpendent and small-press game producers live on "the long tail". Living there means that reviews, actual play discussions, and other such stuff beats advertising hands down - and faking that stuff is a recipe for distastrous eye-rolling.

    The only way I ever sell stuff is by being genuinely enthusiastic about it. I lack the capacity to fake it. That's true of Luke Crane, Vincent Baker, Ron Edwards, John Harper, Anna Kreider, Ben Lehman, and a brazillion others.

    Someone once asked me about Shock: on a Livejournal page. I said what it did. The guy said, "But what if I don't want to do that?" I said, "Then you won't enjoy Shock: and should play something you will." He said, "Wow, thanks for the honesty." I shrugged — like I want a crabby customer who hates my game and makes me do a print run sooner?

    The only way oversupply currently affects this community, is if people feel like failures because they aren't getting the affirmation of the market.

    That's serious business: the reason we publish the way we do is so that we can make our own decisions about publishing. If my vision for publishing a game is to print 50 copies, then never print it again, selling them at cost, and then I do that, awesome. If I want to make a PDF so I can play with my friends, and then I do, and someone else then thinks it's a neat game, then awesome. If I want to sell 10,000 copies and I invest a lot of thought, design, production, marketing, and selling into it, and I do, then awesome. The only time it's not awesome is if I want to make 50 copies to sell at cost, then someone convinces me that I should sell 100 for profit, but I'm not prepared for it, haven't produced something of high quality, and don't want to do any of the stuff I need to do to make that happen.

    If you're an independent publisher, it means you, and only you, are responsible for your successes and failures. Folks on this forum will give you all sorts of stupid advice about how you "should" publish. Some of it might be good advice disguised as stupid advice. Most of it isn't. Only you can determine your own success, and that can only be done by setting out to achieve a modest level of success, and then determining where to go from there. Maybe you accomplished what you set out to accomplish (see Judd Karlman with Dictionary of Mu). Or maybe you want to take what you learned and do something else, or maybe modify your existing product to be closer to the thing you wanted it to be.

  • Posted By: Joshua A.C. NewmanThe only time it's not awesome is if I want to make 50 copies to sell at cost, then someone convinces me that I should sell 100 for profit, but I'm not prepared for it, haven't produced something of high quality, and don't want to do any of the stuff I need to do to make that happen.
    Or when you attempt to sell 50 copies at cost and only sell 16, and then feel some sucky feelings as a result.
    For me, those feelings are roughly:
    1.) I'm worthless as a human being.
    2.) I should quit playing roleplaying games and take up a meaningful activity, like mountaineering.
    3.) Why do I bother?
    4.) You know what, fuck them! They're just sycophantic assholes with no taste!

    Which... that's obviously an inner monologue with 4% truth at most.

    Anyways, that's the other sucky situation: people failing to meet their goals (as opposed to being pressured into new goals, which you outlined).
  • Posted By: Mcdaldno (joepub)Or when you attempt to sell 50 copies at cost and only sell 16, and then feel some sucky feelings as a result.
    For me, those feelings are roughly:
    1.) I'm worthless as a human being.
    2.) I should quit playing roleplaying games and take up a meaningful activity, like mountaineering.
    3.) Why do I bother?
    4.) You know what, fuck them! They're just sycophantic assholes with no taste!
    Oh, hey I've done that.

    And then someone drops me an email reading "Played game. Loved it!"

    And the universe becomes a place of blazing white-hot joy.

    So, there's that.
  • Posted By: Levi KornelsenAnd then someone drops me an email reading "Played game. Loved it!"

    And the universe becomes a place of blazing white-hot joy.
    Totally.
    Whenever I've been absolutely dejected about Ribbon Drive, I've received an awesome play report the next day (like, with amazing consistency), and it's brightened my heart each time.

    I don't know if everyone's as approval-driven as I am, but I crave positive reviews and commendation like it's meth.
    Not that I crave meth.
    But having tasted approval, I am now addicted to it, in analogy to how a meth addict is addicted to meth.

    I DON'T DO METH, OKAY?!
  • Don't do meth, Joe!
  • Oh, hey I've done that.

    And then someone drops me an email reading "Played game. Loved it!"

    And the universe becomes a place of blazing white-hot joy.

    That's because your publishing goal is really, "Find someone else who is really into this game". You just had to cast a 50-wide net to catch 16 fish, of which only some are yellowfin tuna made of rainbows, unicorns, and blow jobs.

  • Joe:

    I live near Independence MO, which has been called the meth capital of the US. I've seen what meth does. You should stop doing it. For the people that love you. Step away from the meth.
  • This makes me want to write a "Breaking Bad" set for Fiasco.
  • Speaking of addiction to feedback:

    "Publishing a volume of verse is like dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo." -- Don Marquis

    Which seems to support Levi's premise: It's about the consumer, dummy.
  • Yeah, well, marketing is about making sure that you're dropping a rose petal where it can be heard, or dropping something big enough to echo into the grand canyon.

  • Holy freaking Groundhog Day. Why didn't somebody tell me this episode was a re-run earlier?!...
    Posted By: noclue Nov. 29, 2007Either gaming is a market or it isn't a market. If its a market, games are worth what people will pay for them. Prices are established by buyers and sellers coming to a negotiated price. If some [business person] can't get what they want for their game because hobbyists are out their selling at a loss, I understand their disappointment, but their business model is flawed. They want to apply consumer culture to the hobby game market, but they don't have enough product differentiation to charge the premium they want.

    As an aside, does community theater dilute the market for Broadway musicals?
    Posted By: arphid Nov. 29,2007Ooh, the anger dollar. Huge. Huge in times of recession. Giant market. Ogremarco's very bright to do that.

    http://story-games.com/forums/comments.php?DiscussionID=4928&Focus=110520#Comment_110520
  • edited May 2010
    Great thread Levi. Obviously you have seen the true nature of The Matrix.

    Making a purchase is really no different from any other action. It conveys a message whether we want it to or not, and is susceptible to interpretation error. Most of the time we are not consciously aware of the messages we are conveying and responding to, and when we are, we typically use a set of codified and institutionalized actions that reduce translation errors to convey them called language.

    Some people get squicked by marketing because they see it as a product defining them, as opposed to them using a product to define themselves. The clothes do not make the man, but damn if I'm not going to dress well to show everyone else how awesome I am. On the other hand, bad things can happen when the message is misinterpreted. I mean, I love 'Nazi chic', but I don't think it takes a genius to see how the message conveyed might be one of 'I'm a racist fascist bastard' as opposed to one of 'I have excellent taste in clothing'.

    The thing a lot of people seem to forget is that marketing is a form of hypnosis, and like all hypnosis, it cannot make you do something you do not want to. And a lot of those annoying internet ads are actually backfiring on their intended purpose. I may be aware of what 'Diamond Finish' is, but when I see it I think, no, feelannoyed. No way I'm buying it with that mindset.

    Sorry, I'm mostly talking to myself, though I hope people get something from my internal monologue. If there's anything practical I've found, then it's that there's very little difference between good gamemastering and good salesmanship,
    Posted By: Paul B(NB I wonder how people would feel about brain science being used prescriptively in game design?)
    I'm not sure what you mean by prescriptive, but if it's what I think you mean...

    If brain theory is used descriptively, then it can be used to market an existing game, but not improve it or design a new one. But if it is used prescriptively, then the opposite is true, and I consider this use more 'honest'. Forge Theory is also often accused of being purely descriptive, but I haven't found that to be true. A theory that doesn't help me design is a theory I have no interest in.
  • The theory developed there was descriptive. It's up to you to interpret those descriptions and synthesize a new thing.

  • Forge theory mostly describes how people play. By understanding different ways that people play, you can design games for them to play.
  • edited May 2010
    Concerning the original post, I think in the end it's all a story of "Right game in the right place at the right time."

    When you read a certain book today and 10 years from now, you're not really reading the same book, you're not getting the same thing out of it. So I guess it's a bit hard to sell the game when you are actually buying an aspect of yourself, and it might be a different aspect from the same game in different times. So it might help if the game has multiple such slots for you to insert yourself into.

    If it makes sense?

    Edit: I'm with Joe and Levi, but I seem to get more approval in other arenas of my life.
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