Five things on Friday #336

Things of note for the week ending Sunday September 4th, 2022

Oh. Hi, September.

INTRO

Hello hello. How have you been?

After last edition’s opener being all ‘I’ll write when I want actually’ – yours truly ended up taking most of August off after all. Lovely.

It’s been a good summer; a couple of trips up to Norfolk (including almost losing my watch on a rope swing – see?), the annual OREO Summer garden party, then straight onto a relatively last-minute/hungover trip to Disneyland Paris, AND THEN straight to Gamescom in Cologne, AND THEN a Bank Holiday… Well, you can forgive a few weeks of missing pulling this ol’ thing together.

Sidenote: walking for three days around a theme park and then doing the same at the largest conference centre I’ve ever seen in my life is not the one. Do not recommend. My Fitbit just openly laughed at me at one point. I swear to god.

What else can I tell you?

Oh yes! HELLO to the 70+ new subs that have joined since I last hit the publish button. No idea where you’ve all come from BUT you have succeeded in pushing me well over the 3000 subs marker which, for no reason whatsoever, felt like a nice milestone. Thank you – and welcome. I hope you read the small print (it doesn’t always come on Friday but you always get more than five etc) and I hope you stick around… 🙂

With all that out of the way – onwards!

TO THE THINGS!


1. HEY JAMES, IT’S BEEN A WHILE, WHAT’S NEW IN METAVERSE BS?’

Be honest. You’ve missed this haven’t you?

WHERE TO START?

As tempting as it is to bring this to you via the dead eyes of an uncanny valley Mark Zuckerberg, instead we’re going to start with the VMAs.

When MTV said they were introducing – what some called ‘an ill-fated attempt to claw back long-missing relevance’ – a ‘Best Metaverse Performance’ category for this year’s VMAs, I think I said something like:

The VMAs came and went. BLACK PINK picked up the award with Rolling Stone reporting:

“[Blackpink] took’ home the award for the newly created Best Metaverse Performance for their in-game concert in the video game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.”

Emphasis mine.

I say again: they are talking about video games.

NEXT!

RAZORFISH published this steaming pile of twaddle.

Featuring phenomenal guff such as

‘52% of Gen Z feel more like “themselves” in the metaverse than IRL’

And!

‘Those in the metaverse are six times more likely to describe themselves as introverts vs. extroverts’

You’ll be surprised to know that they make getting your hands on the data quite difficult. Well, I found the PDF and guess what?!

THEY’RE TALKING ABOUT GAMING.

It literally says on page two ‘But what exactly is the metaverse? While we’re not here to define it…’

HOW CAN YOU CONDUCT A SURVEY ABOUT A THING IF YOU’RE NOT GOING TO DEFINE THE THING YOU’RE SURVEYING ABOUT YOU UTTER CRETINS.

It gets better! Let’s take a look at the methodology.

COME THE EFF ON. It’s right there! In… black purple and white. ‘We shadowed 12 Gen Z GAMERS during a 1-hour VIDEO GAMING experience…’

I say again: THEY’RE TALKING ABOUT GAMING.

For crying out loud – just call it gaming. It makes me weep.

NEXT!

Sad to report McKinsey is at it again (first pile of BS available here – anyone who quotes McKinsey at you about the future of the metaverse DOESN’T UNDERSTAND WORDS and shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near your timesheets) with this widely-derided word salad on ‘the metaverse’ and ‘building the next big experiences – how the metaverse will drive value’. You can read it if you want (but fair warning: it might make you want to put your finger in your eye and swirl around your brain until anything anything starts to make sense).

The reason I’m linking you to it is because I did have a special section lined up in my head to really pull it apart but the excellent Charlie Warzel beat me to it.

The scourge of business-dude lorem ipsum” is amazing and arguably the best thing in FTOF this week. Read it.

As an aside. I heard something recently that was understandable as it was completely and clinically insane.

Why are these big consultancies and the (more often than not) west coast tech firms chasing vaporware in this way? Where does the drive come from? They surely can’t believe this is the genuine future?

Optionality.

Whether it’s talking about the metaverse, throwing around nonsense about NFTs or simply wanging on about Web3 – if any of them suddenly rocket to the moon, these companies get to say ‘Oh, we were in it from the start’.

If not, they quietly forget about it (I mean, close your eyes and point anywhere on Killed by Google to see my point), and move on. The option cost is some white papers, a couple of ‘tech visionary’ salaries and maybe some light touch product development.

Turns out making up BS about the future of the metaverse is an option cost. Of course it is! I hate it as much as I respect the sheer corporate/shareholder focus of it all.

Next: quick metaverse bites

OK, that’s enough now.

Let ‘em have it Zucko!

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2. SWEATHEAD DO TOGETHER

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Somehow, in some way, someone (probably Mark) thought it’d be a good idea if I joined the speaking line up for this incredible conference next month.

The Sweathead Do Together conference is pulled together by the amazing Sweathead strategy community and this year’s conference is all about the FIGHT against MEDIOCRITY.

As Sweathead puts it:

Strategy roles have never been in so many companies in so many countries. But a lot of these companies are new to strategy – or, account planning – and don’t always know how to help it succeed.

In this year’s version of The Sweathead Do-Together, we are going to take a stance – mediocrity is a habit but it’s a crap habit.

We’re inviting people we love and respect to:

Psyche You Up and leave with a fire lit under you.

Skill You Up so you can start your next project with new skills.

Trend You Up by updating your knowledge of the world and technology.

Yours truly is appearing in the TREND YOU UP section, talking about the trend of gaming and how to practically apply trend watching and interpretation to your day to day work as a strategist.

I am equally excited and nervous AF*. Tickets are $495 for the conference or $895 for a conference + masterclass session. Available here.

Will I see you there?

Let me know 🙂

*this reminds me, I have an open edit on a trade piece about being a strategy leader. I should finish that. 😬


3. THIS WEEK IN GAMING

GAMESCOM!

I would love to tell you about all the amazing games I played and things I saw while at Gamescom but alas I can only fulfil the latter (if my boss is reading this – please can we tack on some consumer days next time, thanks, love you). That said, it was a fantastic conference in easily the LARGEST CONFERENCE CENTRE I’VE EVER VISITED IN MY ENTIRE LIFE. Pro tip: if you’re based in Halls 2 and 3 and someone says ‘Do you want to meet in Hall 8?’ – you say no.

But what did I see?

An amazing Batcycle c/o WB Games and Gotham Knights (can’t wait for this), VASCO from Bethesda’s Starfield (built by cosplayers – amazing), the Pokémon/Mini Cooper tie-in I didn’t know I need it (Pikachu + Electric Charging is a brand partnership made in heaven), some outstanding merch, and of course, the Irish Bar in the square at the end of the night (which, for my adland friends, is basically Cannes’ Gutter Bar but for Gamescom).

See larger photos on Linkedin.

All in all, I had a GREAT time. Meeting existing clients for the first time face to face, meeting potential new clients looking for help, and overall just meeting a whole bunch of people who have a deep passion and care for all things gaming.

Reader, I am home.

Next: two micros-sections.

First a smattering of gaming stuff to be across then a quick hitlist of what I’m currently playing.

LET’S GOOOOOOOO.

Good game stuff I’ve read since we last spoke:

What am I playing?

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  • Cult of the Lamb has taken over my life (and my son’s – and the lives of so many people at Diva HQ – we did the digital assets + some gorgeous alt key art – see above). I’m 3/4 (5?) bosses down and just enjoying building my little group of Casual Cultists. If you’re playing, what did you call your cult?

  • New Destiny 2, Season of Plunder has hit (landing after the monster Lightfall reveal) and along with it came the updated version of arguably the best raid Bungie has ever produced, King’s Fall. Our team (me included) knocked it over on Day 2. #Proud [thread].

  • While waiting for my washing between Disney and Gamescom, I picked up Roller Drome and since getting back I have found it REALLY QUITE HARD to put down. Similarly to Neon White, it’s got that pick-up-and-playability element, combined with relatively short level design plus a scoring system that keeps you coming back. This is my gaming recommendation of the week. Here’s a trailer (available on Steam, PS4 and PS5).

  • Once Roller Drome is done, next on my list is Immortality (on Game Pass). The reviews for this have been insane and it scored a rare-as-rocking-horse-sheet 10/10 in the most recent edition of EDGE.

  • THEN I might get to The Last of Us Part 1.

So yeah, there’s a lot to get on with.

What are you playing?


4. NIKITA GILL

Nikita Gill – and her gorgeous poetry – has appeared in this newsletter a few times in issues past. This Guardian profile is well worth your time.

Nikita’s book, ‘These are the words’ is available on paperback right now (I’ve just bought mine).


5. THE TRIANGLE OF SADNESS

As the line says, the perfect comedy for our times.


BONUS SECTION

THIS IS THE BONUS SECTION. BONUS LINKS THAT BUMP US OVER FIVE THINGS BUT DUE TO TIMING AND SELF-IMPOSED WRITING RESTRICTIONS ARE LIMITED TO PITHY COMMENTARY ONLY.

ENJOY.


YOU ARE REACHING THE END OF THE NEWSLETTER. MIND THE GAP.

Right, this turned out to be a bumper edition didn’t it? I hope y’all liked it and – like I always say – you’re welcome to hit that reply button ANY TIME. It’s lovely to hear from you. As I slowly meander towards the big blue ‘Publish’ button, it’s coming up on 1215 UK time on a cloudy Sunday afternoon. Coffee has been consumed, bacon muffins demolished, and the shower beckons.

I hope you’re having a gorgeous weekend and hopefully we’ll speak again soon.

Big love,

Whatley out x

PS. In case you were wondering, the top image is my lunch in Brussels on the way home from Cologne. After several days of all day meetings followed by drinking and non-stop networking, I can’t tell you how much that poutine saved my life. Poutine: food of the GODS, I tell you.

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Author: James Whatley

Chief Strategy Officer in adland. I got ❤️ for writing, gaming, and figuring stuff out. I'm @whatleydude pretty much everywhere that matters. Nice to meet you x