On Gaming.

At the end of last year I made the decision to actively take a step back from “Strategy Twitter“. The White Male Opinions™️ can get tiresome – and they nearly always follow the same pattern. It’s telling that the last – I think five? – muted accounts on Twitter all fall under that description. There’s nothing quite like opening Twitter, seeing something decent, you click to open the thread, and before you know it there are three white male opinions arguing over the semantics or, y’know, ‘playing devil’s advocate’. Y-a-w-n. So this year I made the choice to lean into my passion, and tweet/write about gaming instead.

So here’s some stuff on that.

I’m not sure when it started.

Well, that’s not true. I do know when it actually started. The Atari 5200 was when it started. Specifically, this model (because I can just about make out the far reaches of my memory the overlay cards for the joysticks).

They were fascinating.

I barely remember the games. I think we had ET (who didn’t?), a tank game as well, definitely. It was my sister’s machine, not mine, but that’s when it started.

No, I mean leaning in to gaming and making it more of who I am and what I put out into the world.

Three things maybe.

First: I’ve always been a gamer. Atari 5200. Nintendo Entertainment System (the ‘NES’), then the SNES, GameCube (this was when the online fun started – finding friends on forums that had bought an Action Replay, subsequently imported Animal Crossing and then got themselves banned from the official Nintendo forums for trading pink sofas on a game not out in the UK – you know who you are), then the Wii, Xbox 360 (I was a signed up Wii60er), then the PS4 – my first PlayStation – and up to now, where I’m old enough and earn enough for it to be: ‘yeah, just about everything but PC’.

But that brief history is a) not why we’re here and b) a longer post for another day. The point is: I’ve always been a gamer.

Second: It’s true to say that the arrival of the PS4 unlocked a new community of gaming and gamers for me. From forums to Facebook groups, WhatsApp chats to annual IRL meetups – the community of people I game with are second to none. This is helpful because it’s also true to say that a mental health problem a few years back gave me time to explore and dive into spending more time with and understanding myself. Gaming – and the friends I found there – was a part of that too.

Fast forward to today and I have a solid clan of good people, a healthy rhythm of play, and access to amazing games with challenges and gameplay loops that forge long-lasting friendships and memories.

But what else of today? Well, in case you’ve missed it (or frankly, just simply been unable to get your hands on one yet) there’s the next generation of consoles arriving. Hella useful when there’s a global requirement for something to do when you can’t go outside.

Combine that with [the rest of the world waking up to] “GAMING” as an entertainment format coming of age – which leads me to my third thing – it means there’s a level of social acceptance that comes with owning up to being ‘a gamer’.

I mean, there’s ‘I play a bit of FIFA at the weekend’ levels of being a gamer, and then there’s ‘I play so much Destiny that I’ve got a dedicated game night, a handful of real-life medals, and a raid jacket‘. It’s all gaming. From a skillset perspective, I would still argue I’m bang average but on the spectrum of casual-hardcore, I’m definitely to the right of centre.

But it doesn’t matter where you sit, it’s all gaming. And that’s the point. People that gatekeep on streaming, on communities, on ‘hardcore’ vs ‘casuals’ can all get in the bin.

In short: Gaming is fun. Online play mean it’s more sociable than ever; yes couch co-op games are still great (albeit uncommon) but the abundance of online play/chat/team games means you can jump on at any time of the day and find people to play with.

Gaming is more accessible than ever. Yes, we’re in the middle (tail end? – Ed) of a global chip shortage, and yes the new consoles aren’t exactly cheap but there are options available for everyone. Xbox Game Pass, PlayStation Now, cheap Ps4s the Xbox Series S, hell, even Google Stadia – are all different/accessible (read: cheap) ways to dip your toes in and try it. The days of spending hundreds and hundreds of pounds on consoles and games to play on them are – if you want them to be – long gone.

And Gaming is more acceptable than ever. I read this great quote in the FT a few months back, from game designer Jenova Chen:

“You don’t ask someone, ‘Do you watch movies?’ or ‘Do you listen to music?’ You just ask what kind they like. One day, we will simply ask each other: ‘What kind of games do you play?’ This day now seems closer than ever.”

I talk about gaming to friends, family, and colleagues. The eye rolls still happen, yes – and that’s fine – but not as often as they used to. Social acceptance is growing. Hurrah! Although, hilariously, if you’d asked me what I thought of ‘the casual gamer’ and the popularity of gaming growing massively (broadly I would argue thanks to PlayStation making it cool) 20 years ago, I probably would’ve growled something grumpy like ‘Rah rah rah, Nintendo is the best’. Thankfully I’m past that now.

For me, the popularity of gaming means I can embrace my passion and talk about it freely and openly.

And the best part? Very occasionally, I get to overlap it with my other my passion: my day job.

Writing is thinking. And being asked* to write – to think – about the thing I enjoy most in my spare time is ace.

Be that wanging on about the popularity of Animal Crossing OR deep-diving and celebrating what passionate gaming communities can do when they put their hearts and minds to it OR having a long look at why Xbox vs PlayStation is about to be more exciting than it’s ever been OR examining who has what edge when it comes to the forthcoming game-streaming wars OR simply sharing my gaming exploits with my friends and followers – it all floats my boat.

My point is: this isn’t one of those articles about ‘What games mean for brands’, or ‘top ten things marketers can learn from gaming’ (There are loads of those and if you look hard enough, you might actually find a good one – no promises though).

Far from it.

This is simply a call to arms for you. If you’ve never tried gaming before, now is the perfect time to give it a go.

If you’re a lapsed gamer, it’s time to get back in again.

The water has never been better.

See you there? x

*I don’t always have to be asked.

On Writing.

I used to write a newsletter.

I guess I still do. Just not recently. Last year, post-pandemic, I count seven editions. This year we have a grand total of one.

For a ‘weekly’ publication, that’s not exactly regular.

March 23rd, 2020. We all know and remember that’s when the UK went into lockdown. Since then I’ve been back into the office I think five times? Twice for a shoot, once for a pitch, then twice to see (and in some cases, meet for the first time) my team. 

I do not miss the commute. I know I am not alone in this, not by any stretch. The benefits of working from home (higher productivity, deep work) far outweigh those of being in the office every day (commute, open-plan offices) – I can’t ever imagine going back to the old normal ever again.

Incredible really. 

Being able to close my laptop at 6pm, immediately cuddle my children, start [a proper] dinner, and generally enjoy an evening at home with the family; that holds immense value for me.

But of course, that benefit comes at a cost: the 90-120mins a day of dead time on the train/tube/walk of a commute mind, that’s where I did the thinking. The reading. The mental drafting and percolating of words, thoughts, and provocations that would ultimately wind up in an edition of Five Things on Friday.

And that’s gone now.

Not for good. But it’s telling that having travelled to and from the office twice over the past fortnight, there are words available at the end of these fingers once more.

I know I’m one of the lucky ones.

Throughout all this I’ve kept my job, the roof over my head, and – frankly – my life.

But today, today I’m allowing myself to miss writing.

Because I do.

I am in no rush to return to the office. But when I do (at least part-time) then maybe the words will return with it.

41.

Haven’t written a newsletter for maybe a couple of months and I’ve got a .txt file of links longer than my left leg to go through but instead of doing that, I thought it was high time to boot up the back end of my dusty weblog, blow off a few cobwebs, and see what comes out. Because of course.

It was my 41st birthday a fortnight or so ago.

Turning 40 was a huge deal for me. It is my firm belief that I spent a good part of those 40 years properly messing things up. Yes, I achieved so much – so so so so so much. And it was great – but it was also at great expense. To myself and to many others. I felt like 40 – and to be fairer to myself – the year leading up to turning 40, was a genuine full stop. End of page. New chapter. The second half of the book… And… Here. We. Go.

We spoiled ourselves last year. I’m glad we did. We owed to each other. Amazing gigs, several holidays, family trips – just saying ‘fuck it, we’ve earned this’ – because we had. ‘And in 2020,’ we said, ‘we won’t go on holiday. Instead, we’ll get the garden done, sort ourselves out financially, and focus on turning our house into a home’. Couldn’t have picked a better year for it.

This year, almost gone in the blink of a thousand video calls, is nearing its end. Christmas decorations are up. Tentative plans are being made. And yet I look around and think ‘Hey, wait a minute – it was March, like, yesterday? Where did it all go?’ Now don’t get me wrong, this year has been A yEaR uNLiKe AnY oThEr. But still.

I remember when I first became a parent someone said to me ‘The years are fine, it’s the decades you wanna watch out for’. And they were right. My children grow (my god they grow), life turns onwards. I find myself reflecting often on what I might leave behind (good therapy does that to you). Someone asked me recently, what would people write in your obituary?

“One of the best pieces of advice my therapist ever gave me was this: “spend your life helping your children write the obituary you will never hear. Make it easy for them.” It doesn’t matter what I think, feel – it matters what I do. I hope that what I do is enough.”

And I do. I wonder about it a lot.

Everything from ensuring my kids don’t feel pressured to conforming to false societal norms (I’m not the only one that does this, right?) to just making sure I use my platform to elevate voices that may not have the chance to be heard (Get DICE). Micro and macro – how can I not be a fuck up (anymore)? How can I give more back? How can I make sure I’m leading by example?

How can I ensure that what I do helps me live a life of meaning.


It was my 41st birthday last month.

That, for me at least, marks a full year of not being a fuck up.

And I’m alright with that.

Five things on Friday #249

Things of note for the week ending Sunday, February 11th, 2018.

Did you know, if you SUBSCRIBE to the Five things on Friday newsletter, you are 100% guaranteed to get MORE STUFF (eg: a proper intro and probably some more gifs) than reading it here on whatleydude.com.

So y’know, SUBSCRIBE TODAY.

TO THE THINGS

1. PARAMOUNT + NETFLIX

Last week, during the Superb Owl, there was a ton of new movie trailers (as well as one great ad - for TIDE) one of those trailers was for a film called ‘The Cloverfield Paradox’.

What happened next is old news now. The trailer dropped and, minutes after the big game finished, the film was available to watch on Netflix.

‘AMAZING!’ screamed some.
‘IT’S A REVELATION IN MOVIE MARKETING!!’ screamed others.

But then, when the dust settled, it appeared that with very little spend from Paramount (at best, they went 50/50 on the movie’s ad spot with Netflix) they managed to get millions of people excited about a very bad second-rate movie.

That’s the interesting part to me. I get that JJ Abrams’ ‘thing’ is mystery and surprise (hell, he even did a TED talk on it) so I get that this could be seen as just another JJ marketing move. But I don’t think so. Paramount has not had a HUGE hit at the box office in years. Last year, it’s best-performing movie was TRANSFORMERS (episode 17, Primes of the round table or something) – and that barely scraped the top 20.

Taking that into account, and also looking at the recent news about a similar ‘straight-to-Netflix’ deal re: the forthcoming sci-fi movie, ANNIHILATION, it looks a little like Paramount is playing it super safe. It’s one big hit this year is probably going to be MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT.

Outside of that? Who knows. It’s a shame. Some of the best MARVEL films started out at Paramount. I hope this isn’t the beginning of the end for them. I also hope that this isn’t the start of a trend where ‘straight to video’ movies just get sold as ‘straight to Netflix’ – that is not a good luck for any/all involved.

2. THE CHARMED LIFE OF ALEX MOORE

My friend Molly Flatt has a book out.

I am awfully proud of her.

And the book is pretty damn good (so far) too.

I’m fortunate enough to have been sent a proof copy. You can pre-order yours now (out in May).

Do so.

3. DIGITAL OUT OF HOME AD SCREENS AS BITCOIN MINERS. 

Terence Eden has seen them.

This is 2018.

4. TWITTER ACTUALLY TURNED A PROFITAbsolute scenes.

You can read the whole letter to its shareholders here. Interestingly, aside from kinda waving vaguely at the President of the USA, I can’t really see anything here that screams ‘We know exactly what we’re doing!’

I’m being unfair.

I’m pleased for Twitter. Truly. 12yrs to get this far. And it is indispensable. I just hope this isn’t a blip. Time will tell.

More here.

5. THE BANANA TRICK

I’ve never stolen anything from self-checkout (although when I was a kid, I stole my fair share of sweets from the pick’n’mix at Woolworths (WE ALL DID IT)) but apparently, this is a THING. With its own nomenclature and everything.

The Atlantic has more.

PRE-BONUS ESSENTIAL READING: 

Only the essentials. 

  • Uma Thurman’s interview with the NYT dropped hours after I published last week’s edition. I’m hoping you’ve all read and/or seen it by now. If not, fix that.
  • I considered linking to the Quentin Tarantino piece that came after this one but no, f*** him.
  • Related – Jill Messick, caught up with all of this, took her own life last week. This is all so awful.
  • Steve Wynn has FINALLY stepped down.
  • CP + B fires its CCO. Doesn’t say why…
  • Droga 5 loses its ECD in a similar way.
THE BONUS SECTION OF BONUS-SHAPED BONUSES: 

They shoulda told us about da bonus…

YOU HAVE REACHED THE END. 

Thank you for reading.

It has been a long and hard weekend. I am very much looking forward to a Monday night of peaceful sleep.

We shall see.

Whatley out, x. 

Ps. This week’s was late.

Nextweek’s may not appear at all.

I’m in Rome Wednesday – Monday and may not take my laptop with me.

If we don’t speak, have a lovely couple of weeks and I’ll be in touch upon my return.

Ciao, Bella x.  

Five things on Friday #228

Things of note for the week ending Saturday July 1st, 2017.

REMINDER: if you SUBSCRIBE to the Five things on Friday email newsletter, you are 100% guaranteed to get MORE STUFF than reading it here on My Happy Place.

You can do that by hitting the inconspicuous button that may or may not be below this sentence.

➡️  [SUBSCRIBE TODAY]  ⬅️

Shall we crack on?

//// ⭐️ //// ⭐️ ——— ⭐️ \\\\ ⭐️ \\\\

1. GEN XENNIALS

I don’t REALLY have to repeat how much it makes my gut reach whenever I read some of the latest guff around generational ‘cohorts’ now do I?

For those of you that didn’t throw up the moment you read the above thing title, keep reading!

The ‘micro-generation’ of people born between 1977 and 1983 (and the reason that this, ahem, research is appearing in this edition MAY WELL BE because I fall into said category) now have their own name.

GENERATION XENNIAL.

— passes the sick bag —

AHEM.

It says here:

Look. I get it. That is definitely me. And the full definition makes a lot of sense.

But it’s still a massive wang-a-thon. 

I’ve said it before, if you want a decent take on all things cohort, you could do a lot worse than read this excellent piece by Jed Hallam – Millennial is a useless term‘ 

Xennials. I mean, really.

— — — — —

2. WETHERSPOONS DELETED ITS ENTIRE EMAIL DATABASE – ON PURPOSE

I AM SO HERE FOR THIS.


WIRED* is reporting that UK pub chain (and oft-favourite haunt of student-Whatley) J.D. Wetherspoons has deleted its entire email mailing list and says it will stop sending newsletters via email completely.

JDW’s CEO, John Hutson, wrote to its subscribers last week and said –

“Many companies use email to promote themselves, but we don’t want to take this approach – which many consider intrusive. Our database of customers’ email addresses, including yours, will be deleted.”

BECAUSE WHO WANTS MORE EMAIL, AMIRITE? 

This is nothing short of superb.

Like I said, WIRED has the full story.

Worth a read.



*Incidentally, I subscribed to WIRED magazine this week. £28 for 24 issues. That’s £1.10 per issue. Not bad. 

— — — — —

3. THE SECRET HISTORY OF PIXAR’S CARS UNIVERSE

Buckle up.

Shit’s about to get weird.

 (this is probably my favourite thing this week)

Earlier this week, I read the following:

—–

“One of the beauties and dangers of the internet’s ability to dilate fandoms so that they never begin and never end is that people get to spend too much time thinking about stuff. For instance, Cars 3 — the latest kid-friendly Pixar film — is out today, but it will likely not address the fact that a car genocide happened in which Car Hitler exterminated 6 million Car Jews during Car World War II. It is very easy to prove that Car Hitler is real, using canonical Cars lore.

The general line of thought is something like this: The Cars-verse includes a World War II–era Jeep named Sarge, who explicitly references events like the Battle of the Bulge. In the direct-to-DVD film Planes (made by Disney but not Pixar), there is an actual WWII flashback in which the plane Skipper recalls losing his entire squadron in the Pacific Theater. Assuming that Car WWII occurred, and that it contains the same contours as the actual WWII, we can assume that there were Car Axis powers, and thus a Car Hitler.”

The problem with this stuff is the more you read it, the more you just want to keep scrolling…

Which you’re going to do once you click through and read the whole damn mind-bending thing.

— — — — —

4. A SECTION ABOUT MOVIES + STUFF

There’s a whole bunch of film-based news/knowledge/trailers that I’ve missed while away so I’m bunging it all under one section (save running a whole FToF dedicated to movies – but that might still happen one day – maybe).

Ready?

In no real order whatsoever:

______________

And that’s that section done. While we’re here though, let’s throw in another bit. Being off work for as long as I have, I’ve been catching up with a number of box sets I’ve had my eye on:

  1. 13 REASONS WHY (Netflix). Hard watching. But very good.
  2. AMERICAN GODS (Amazon Prime). Made by the same team that brought us the HANNIBAL TV series (still my favourite TV show of all time ever – not kidding), AG has some stellar performances but overall suffers from assuming too much knowledge on behalf of its audience. EXPLAIN MORE STUFF PLEASE AMERICAN GODS. THANKS.
  3. PREACHER (Amazon Prime). I started this AGES AGO but with S2 arriving I figured I’d revisit. It is gruesome, weird, messed up, and (unlike AMERICAN GODS) includes a decent plot. I enjoyed it.
  4. HOUSE OF CARDS (Netflix). Do I really need to talk about this?
  5. Over to you, dear reader…​
— — — — —

5. OMG – COMPETITIVE PUNNING

This week, on ‘RANDOM THINGS I HAVE WATCHED ON THE INTERNET’, this video utterly killed me.

Go. Watch it. Then come back.

So yeah, found that video via this AMAZING article on Fast Company that explains how Joe Berkowitz spent a year exploring the culture in and around COMPETITIVE PUNNING.

“The best pun I heard during the course of writing the book was: ‘I went to go shopping for cherries and microphones the other day: bought a bing, bought a boom,’” Joe told me. “The worst pun I heard was: ‘If steaks can’t satisfy you, can ribs?’ where the words ‘Can ribs’ were somehow supposed to form a pun on ‘Cribs.’ This was 15 minutes into a pun duel about furniture and all the good puns were taken, but still: wow,” Joe recalled.

If you only watched the video at the start of this section then I will be happy but this whole thing, in general, is so mentally brilliant, I can’t impress it upon you enough to go read, explore, and enjoy/cringe/laugh.

Go go go!

— — — — —

BONUSES THIS WEEK ARE AS FOLLOWS: 

HERE BE THE BONUS SECTION. AKA: ‘THE SELECTION OF LINKS THAT JAMES FOUND INTERESTING ENOUGH TO SHARE BUT NOT INTERESTING ENOUGH TO ADD A WHOLE PARAGRAPH OR FIVE OF THOUGHT ABOUT’

DON’T SHY AWAY, MIND. THERE BE GOLD IN DESE HILLS.

DEEP BREATH.

HERE WE GO.

What’d I miss?

— — — — —

And I think that just about wraps it up.

WHAT A WEEK. 

I’ll try not to leave it so long next time.

Whatley out. 

Five things on Friday #157

Things of note for the week ending January 1st, 2016.

FtoF2016

Happy New Year, friends.

Shall we?

1. DRONE PHOTOGRAPHY OF AWESOME

drone drone

Some of these are just wonderful. The above, so simple. The below, breathtaking. I found them via Quartz however that site pulled them from Dronestagram, a place dedicated to the ever-growing art form of drone photography.

christ drone

These two are from the recent batch of winners in Dronestagram’s recent aerial photography contest – just two! The rest are worth seeing too.

A few things here:

  • Did you get a drone for Christmas? Get yourself off to Dronestagram!
  • Back in November, as we celebrated Bonfire Night in a park in South London, we counted no less than four drones hovering above the crowd taking in the firework display. In short: the drones are comingu
  • Rules and regulations on drone usage are slim-to-none (in the UK at least) but if you do have one, please use safely and with respect and care for your fellow humans.

My best friend got a drone for Christmas, I’m going to hassle him for some snaps after I hit publish on this. Woop woop.

Speaking of liking photos…

2. WHAT DO THE TOP INSTAGRAM POSTS OF 2015 SAY ABOUT US

MEOW

The Next Web has pulled together a decent review of the 2015 top ten [most liked] photos from Instagram. But instead of just republishing the images and going ‘Oh hey look, come see!’, the author has actually done some work (HURRAH!) and pulled in the point of view of a consultant clinical psychologist to help in said review.

Definitely a good read and – I really hate to be that guy but – the last paragraph is so on point.

Go read.

3. NINE LESSONS

Brain Pickings is a favourite site of mine. I’ve pulled from it a number of times for FTOF and I/you can visit any day of the week and find something super interesting to read.

I found something from October’s published articles that reflected upon its nine year history.

It is a wonderful read. I mean really.

No images, no quotes – just a proper recommendation to read this article.

Off you pop then.

4. DOCTOR STRANGE

Irrespective of your thoughts on the most recent SHERLOCK (it was all going so well right up until… well, you know) Benedict Cumberbatch is a bloody good actor.

This year, we have two big MARVEL films head our way. The first one, CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR [trailer] arrives in April. The second one, arriving in October, is DOCTOR STRANGE.

This guy.

DrStrangeAvengers-580x299

And in the film itself?

This guy.

Mystical-Strange-005-EW

Benedict Cumberbatch is the perfect casting for this gig. Doctor Stephen Strange has already been mentioned in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and his nemesis was also glimpsed in ANT-MAN (oh you missed that did you?) – so yeah, he’s coming in October and EW has the scoop on how he’s going to look in the film.

And in case you needed it, here’s the UK MARVEL movie release dates for

  • Captain America: Civil War – April 2016
  • Doctor Strange – October 2016
  • Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – April 2017
  • Spider-Man – July 2017
  • Thor: Ragnorak – November 2017
  • Black Panther – February 2018
  • Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 2018
  • Ant-Man and The Wasp – July 2018
  • Captain Marvel – March 2019
  • Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 2019
  • Inhumans – July 2019

Busy then.

5. 1, 2, 3 – JUMP!

2016 is a leap year. Here are 20 crazy facts about February 29th.

It’s late, and if I don’t hit publish soon this newsletter will be too.

_________

Bonuses this week are things that I’ve found/loved personally this week:

See you in a week, friends.

And in the name of all things amazing – a very Happy New Year to you.

Until next time,

JW.

 

Stuff I wrote this week

Not here. In other places.

Hey, look down there

1. The ASA needs to sharpen its teeth when it comes to paid for social media
Over on The Drum, I’ve written a fairly lengthy piece on why, with a UK on the brink of Internet censorship, the Advertising Standards Authority needs to get better (and faster) at policing paid-for social media.

With the government’s renewed interest in internet censorship, the marketing and advertising industry would do well to take notice of what’s going on around it. We only need to look back at the Leveson Inquiry as well the current furore about the Press Complaints Commission’s lack of interest in signing up to new restrictions to see that Westminster will not simply sit back and watch should we not live up to the standards that we enforce upon ourselves.

If we don’t police ourselves properly, the government will – and they will be far, far more draconian in their approach than we could ever dream.

It’s an interesting issue and if you have the time, I’d love to get your opinion.

More.

2. Ads are arriving on Instagram: 3 things you should know
Did you see the news yesterday? Instagram took another significant step towards rolling out ads on its platform and pulled back the curtain on how they’ll look as well as how they’ll work.

There are three things you should definitely know about this announcement and fortunately for you, that’s exactly what I’ve written for Social@Ogilvy.

I hope you find it useful.

3. The Voicemail: Episode 071
Fellow mobile geeks might already know that I record a weekly podcast about mobile technology happenings called The Voicemail. This week’s episode is especially good as, instead of my usual co-host, Stefan Constantinescu, joining me from Finland, Mr Michael Hell jumps in from Austria! The reason why this is exciting, for me at least, is that not only is Michael extremely well-versed in all things mobile, but he is also responsible for The Voicemail actually getting off the ground – so it was really awesome to get him on the show at last.

If mobile is your thing, or even if just fancy knowing a little bit more about the recent Apple iPad announcements / the new Nokia devices revealed this week, then why not give us a listen (we’re on iTunes too).

Have a great weekend.