So it turns out the gaming community dodged a bullet a couple of weeks ago. You’ll really need to read the column and the links it contains to make sense of what follows. Sorry to give you such a giant reading assignment, but it’s a big topic with a lot of tributaries.
Here is a quote from Adriel Wallick, who also had some things to say about the event:
The product placement and forcing of the brand onto us was over the top. I understand who was sponsoring it and where the money to produce this event was coming from, but when I am no longer allowed to have easy access to water in order to hydrate myself after sweating under bright lights for hours because it wasn’t Mountain Dew, then we have a problem. I don’t want to speak ill of Mountain Dew. They are a brand and they sponsored an event – it is 100% acceptable to slap their branding all over the place. It was the enforcement of shilling out our image to constantly and overtly push this beverage that made me uncomfortable.
This is not the first time Pepsi has tried to hang out with the cool kids in gaming and wound up looking like tone-deaf jerks. I understand that brand awareness and exposure are important, but there ARE bad places to put your logo: THIS WEEKEND A TWITCH TV EXCLUSIVE: KITTYCIDE. WE PUT THESE ADORABLE KITTENS IN A PLASTIC BOX AND WATCH THEM SLOWLY DIE OF NEGLECT. SPONSORED BY PEPSI.
My question is similar to the one Adriel asks near the end of her article. Who hired this guy? Why? And do they understand their mistake? I’m a big believer that blame should travel uphill (I acknowledge that it naturally flows the other direction) because that’s where the decisions come from. My concern is that this reality-TV producer guy was made a scapegoat. It’s very rare for a single person to do this much damage all by themselves. Either he was doing what his employers wanted and they hung him out to dry when the crowd turned on them, or they hired this guy without having any concept of what the show would look like. It’s either callous or incompetent.
(I’m using generic terms like “they” because breaking down the leadership structure of this event is really complicated. This wasn’t the effort of a single company, but of many.)
I don’t need the guilty parties to prostrate themselves and submit to a beating on Twitch. These folks already lost four hundred thousand dollars of their own money, and that’s gotta sting worse than a beating. But I would like to see some kind of nod that this happened and that they understand the problem goes deeper than “We hired the wrong guy.”
And what I’d really love is for them to attempt another event. (Again, I realize they just lost a fortune and that it’s possible they don’t have anything left that they can afford to risk.) I think it would help if there was another game jam. One with a less combative and more creative tone. Perhaps one that just let the audience hang out with some devs and see what it takes to make some games.
Anyway. It’s a sad story, but I suppose it could have been a lot worse.
WAY back in 2005, I wrote about a D&D campaign I was running. The campaign is still there, in the bottom-most strata of the archives.
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