On Teenagers, Selfies and Getting Older

oldman

I’m sat in the Isle seat. The plane is pointed to Heathrow, London, and I’m next to a pair of teenage boys. I assume they’re teenagers anyway. Their faces show no traces of hair and their complexion doesn’t yet tell of sleepless nights and 8am starts with a hangover. Instead they have that cocky “I’ve seen it all” look in their eye. Masters of the universe at sixteen. They are loud and they are animated. Fortunately for me they are speaking in Swedish (since Sweden is where our plane currently sits) so I’m not able to understand whatever inconsequential waff it is they’re loudly talking about.

Teenagers are the worst aren’t they? I really feel like they are. As if to prove my point the boy to my immediate left pulls out a bashed up iPhone 4 and activates the camera. It defaulted to the front facing lens. Sure enough he raises the phone to forehead height, just high enough so that he’s looking up to the lens and so that the aisle and the tops of the heads of the passengers behind him are visible in the frame. He pulls a face somewhere between grin and gurn and instantly uploads the photo to Instagram with some text alongside it. The entire time I am intently watching him. I mean my head is literally aimed thirty degrees to my left because I want him to know I’m watching him. I want him to feel shame.

Clearly my gaze means nothing because as soon as the portrait is safely displayed on his Instagram feed he opens the camera again, readjusts the height of the device and snaps another selfie complete with stupid face. This one gets sent to somebody called Tilda along with a wink emoticon. Perhaps a girlfriend? Lucky Tilda.

Why did he not feel shame at taking selfies in public? I literally don’t understand what just happened. Do male teenagers take public selfies and that’s just considered okay with their peers? He recommences laughing and joking with his friend, thoughtlessly sending irritating jolts through our shared seats as he bounces around and I fold my arms, close my eyes and try to focus on the calming shoegaze music I have to listen to during take offs and landings to keep my nerves in check (I am an anxious flyer and the older I’m getting the more uncomfortable I become with the whole deal).

As I sat there focusing on the music (a playlist of tracks by Tycho), trying to ignore how badly my palms were sweating and meditating my way through my co-passengers noisy exchanges my mind drifted to thoughts of the future: If I find teenagers this annoying now, what with their selfies, their infinitely specific and unending emoticons (see below) and their relentless abbreviating of perfectly good words, then what sort of bullshit will my theoretical teenage children be into when they’re sixteen? Will I be completely out of touch with everything they do? With everything that motivates and interests them? What if there are even more irritating things for teenagers to latch on to in 2040? Like selfie drones that follow you around all day constantly uploading high angle pictures of your awful face to some news feed somewhere? Or perhaps electronic clothes that show your latest Spleegr updates on the back of your space hoodie?

I guess what this comes down to is me wanting reassurance. I want people from my parents generation to tell me that they hated me and my friends when we were sixteen. That we were irritating pricks with our MySpaces and our Nokia feature phones and our rucksacks covered in tipex. Then I want THEIR parents to tell me THEIR offspring were pricks too. I want to be sure that teenagers aren’t getting worse, that when I have children they will eventually become likeable adults. Adults that sit quietly in their airline chair and that have the good decency to be ashamed about taking a series of selfies in a public space. Please don’t let technology ruin my future kids. I’d quite like to not eventually hate them.

And because I don’t already sound old enough… Another thing! Emoticons.

Last time I checked we made do with happy smilie and sad smiley. Why do I need an emoticon of a wild boar head or a toilet?! I didn’t realise this had happened until recently and I accidentally tapped the emoticon button on my iPhone keypad. That’s right. Emoticons get an entire and permanent key on my keyboard now. Some of the useless clip-art found within:

A wad of cash with wings
A yellow cat crying tears of laughter
A perfectly formed turd with a face
Five separate types of shoe
Two camels. One with one hump. One with two humps.

moticons

Thank god these exist or people won’t know WHICH specific type of leaf I’m telling them about.

When is ANYBODY going to need to make that distinction? “Hey Jane, sorry I can’t call you back right now because I’m riding my double humped camel to Sainsos 🐫 YOLO”.

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Disney Infinity, Being Grown Up And The Timeless Draw Of Whimsy

Have you ever experienced this? It is the moment where you realise you have a full four or five hours in front of you that you can dedicate to playing games, only to be faced with a paralysing inability to choose which game you want to play. This happens to me often. My eyes pour over the shelf, my head cocked at a forty-five degree angle so as to better read the spines on the wall of green and blue cases that are lined up before me. Third person shooters, action adventures, RPGs, first person shooters and of course Deus Ex: Human Revolution (a spectacular blend of all of the above). Most of them played to around 50% completion or more. All of them a jaunt through grey, brown and mossy-green locales and involve taking control of a human player character. Probably with a short brown haircut and a name like… I don’t know… John… Prophet. Continue reading

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Next Gen Graphics – PS4 and Xbox One

I’ve seen some whiner babies folks on Twitter and the like complaining that the current crop of next gen consoles don’t appear to add much graphically when compared to the kind of games we’re getting on Xbox 360 and PS3. Aside from the fact that the real fun of the extra horse power will be the more realistic and detailed physics and AI models, I just thought I’d illustrate the sometimes amazing difference in visuals and fidelity between launch software and late gen software…

In some cases the difference is night and day.

In some cases the difference is night and day.

Good things come to those who wait.

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Filed under Games Media, Gaming, graphics, PS4, Xbox one

E3 2013 Predictions

With one week to E3 I thought It might be interesting to put my predictions on (virtual) paper beforehand and see how accurate these end up being when the show is over. Here we go…

E3-Prediction-1 v2

Date: TBC. Price – Yep!

E3-Prediction-2

Date: Yep (close enough). Price – Missed by £29. (Damn that’s expensive.)

E3-Prediction-3

Yep!

E3-Prediction-4

Miss.

E3-Prediction-5

Miss

E3-Prediction-6

Yep!

E3-Prediction-7

Yep!

E3-Prediction-8

Yep! (but no price drop)

E3-Prediction-9

Yep!

E3-Prediction-10

We will see…

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GMA Defiance – Invest In Your People

Bit of a messy week for UK games writers wasn’t it? If you’re reading this blog it almost certainly means you’re already clued up on what transpired at and after the Games Media Awards this year so I won’t rehash the timeline (you’ve got Forbes for that. Yeah. Forbes covered it).

There has been an awful lot of finger pointing and side-taking though, that’s what I’ve seen more of than anything else. Writers accusing other writers of being too chummy with PRs, with attending press events to get drunk and get free swag. Then there is the other side, the group saying that those other jerks just need some help dismounting from their high horse.

Not only am I not qualified to pick a side, but I don’t particularly want to. What I will say though as something of an outsider is that clearly there is a problem somewhere with games journalism in the UK and I think I may know where it lies or at least have an idea for how to improve things going forward. Training.
Continue reading

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Why Are We Using Digital Media To Send Gamers To Retailers?

Online ad campaigns for video games can certainly be creative. I’ve seen some cool concepts over the years, usually they have a level of engagement that only digital can offer too, whether that’s by adding interactivity to a takeover or by using a clever page destruction effect its fair to say that the boffins at the creative agencies have always been able to find a way to one-up themselves. So while the creativity and the technology behind digital ads is changing and getting more ambitious I’ve noticed that one thing never seems to change and that is the choice of landing page.

When I say landing page what do I mean? I’m referring to the destination the advertiser chooses to send you to when you click on an ad. This is almost always a retailer page. Like this one. Obviously I know why a brand manager might want to send people off to retailers at every possible opportunity – because he or she is hoping Johnny Consumer will pre-order the game (if you’re not aware, pre-orders are absurdly important these days – if a game hasn’t seen enough pre-orders retailers may lose confidence in your game and choose to buy in less stock for day one).

Here’s the thing though. Continue reading

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The Importance of Reader Loyalty

PR companies and media agencies are obsessed with two key statistics when it comes to gaming websites. ‘How many monthly unique users does it have and how many page impressions does it turn over?’ ‘5 million users you say? 20 million page impressions you say? Here have some promo copies and a press trip to Vegas and while we’re at it have some of this advertising budget’. And this is fair – these are very, very important statistics and an obvious indication of a website’s size and influence – but for as long as I’ve been in the business there has been a factor that remains largely overlooked; reader loyalty.

Where are your users coming from and how engaged with your brand are they? Why is this important? Why should a PR company actually care about this? A page view is a page view isn’t it?

Pretend you are a young PR exec looking to get your client’s game covered and SomeBigGamingSite.com with 3 million monthly users are kind enough to cover it. You would be forgiven for thinking that within a month that article will get read by around 3 million people. Or at least 1 million right…? Not even close. Continue reading

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