Five things on Friday #328
Things of note for the week ending, Friday April 15th, 2022
I’ve sat down to write this into a few times now.
The first draft started: “the kids are screaming in the garden, I’m sitting at the kitchen table (having just hit send on a couple of short paragraphs re: Epic & Lego - more on that later) and, well, I have time to write.”
The second attempt went: “Between those three lines and this next paragraph, a good 36hrs have passed. Turns out I didn’t have time to write after all.”
Here we are on our third and ideally final attempt. Shall we see how we get on?
So hi. It turns out I the kids’ Easter break off the newsletter.
Children everywhere. Lego abound. A batch of Animal Crossing purchases. It’s like April 2020 all over again. And we had loads (of great stuff - more on that later) on at work. I can’t complain. I really can’t. Life is good. So I am being as present as possible and enjoying what I have. With that in mind (and the false starts on getting this out over the past couple of weeks), heaven knows what delights I’ve got packed beneath the fold of this edition.
I’ve been collating links for the past few weeks on myriad themes. Leadership, metaversal activity, gaming, and a whole bunch more other stuff that I find interesting. Time to crack open the TextEdit file I’ve got saved on the desktop and get this thing going.
As always, I’ve got a fair bit to tell you :)
Oh, and one last thing. I had another nice bump of new readers recently - no idea where you’ve all come from but if you are new here, then welcome.
My name is James WhatleyThis is Five things on Friday. The rules are: it doesn’t always come on Friday (if it comes at all) but there’ll always be more than five things.
1. THOUGHTS ON LEADERSHIP
Leadership is a recurring theme for me at the moment. I've just had a pitch accepted for something along these lines (EXCITING) and, as per, I’m using this newsletter as a place to think out loud.
Last time we spoke, I asked to hear about your own experiences of what it means to step up into a new leadership role.
You were, of course, generous with your commentary.
I’ve pulled what I got back into seven themes and I’m putting them in as Thing 1 this week for you to enjoy and learn from. Because surely after ‘the great resignation’ the great hiring spree must follow. And you and I both know you can’t move for new job announcements on LinkedIn right now so… if this is you, or if this is a friend of yours, then maybe you’ll find this useful.
”Use the enthusiastic newcomer status to ASK ALL THE QUESTIONS. I wanted to quickly learn a ton and know how to do things right, and this also helped me to build the confidence to start proposing new approaches. But how to ask all the questions without constantly pinging rando chat messages or emails to people? We ended up setting regular office hours where I could just save up all of my Q's to discuss, and it made for lots of great convos while also ensuring I didn't feel like I was interrupting other colleagues. Also, I love what being exposed to so much "new-ness" does to the brain, the joy of learning and discovery and everything suddenly clicking.”
”If you aren’t out of your comfort zone you’re not growing.”
Try not doubt yourself!
”My advice for stepping into a new more senior role came from a friend and ex-colleague: The only person doubting you is you.”
Stick up for your new team!
”You will meet some people who will look for holes in your Teams’ work to leverage them to their personal advantage. They would have done better, they’ll say. Where there’s work, there’s going to be mistakes. That doesn’t mean promoting or condoning mistakes, however, it means owning the fact they’ll happen and acting upon them – internally.”
Set your personal objectives!
”The one activity that has put me in good stead is setting my own objectives. Not like buttering my own bread in terms of measured KPIs, rather setting personal objectives. I know what they needs from me, how to work to our shared goals and targets… but I add to that. Personal objectives in the past have included: refining my presentation skills, networking outside my industry, supporting upcoming talent. All these things have been important to me personally to create a sense of personal achievement.”
Be clear on what it is you are there to do!
”Know what the job actually is. The description and expectations are often quite different in specific areas, and at the very least, the act of asking and finding out from the stakeholders in your job means that the job will be nailed down.”
With thanks to Jennifer, Jamie, Rachelle, Rene, Bernard, Willem and FJ for all this gold. You are gods among us. Sincerely, thank you. For me personally, it’s been great to look at this and consider how it changes or influences my own day to day. It’s so useful. I hope it’s helpful to you too.
If my other thing gets published by the way, I’ll share it with you also.
2. JUDITH VIORST
A long long time ago, my incredible therapist read this piece out loud to me in one of our sessions together. He sent me the words shortly thereafter and occasionally I refer back to it or share it with friends if the timing feels right.
This is one of those things that you should read aloud. So if you have the time, take a moment and read it out lout. To yourself, to someone near. And remind yourself that you are worthy of love.
As healthy adults we can leave and be left. We can safely survive on our own. But we are capable, too, of commitment and of intimacy. Able to merge and separate, to be both close and alone, we connect at varying levels of intensity, establishing loving bonds that may reflect the diverse pleasures of dependency, mutuality, generativity.
As healthy adults we feel our self to be lovable, valuable, genuine. We feel our self’s “selfsameness.” We feel unique. And instead of seeing our self as the passive victim of our inner and outer world, as acted upon, as helpless and as weak, we acknowledge our self to be the responsible agent and determining force or our life.
As healthy adults we can integrate the many dimensions of our human experience, forsaking the simplification of callow youth. Tolerating ambivalence. Looking at life from more than one perspective. Discovering that the opposite of a very important truth may be another very important truth. And being able to transform separate fragments in to wholeness by leaning to see the unifying themes.
As healthy adults we possess, along with conscience and, of course, guilt, a capacity for remorse and self-forgiveness. We are merely constrained – not crippled – by our morality. Thus we remain free to assert, to achieve, to win the competition, and to savour the complex delights of mature sexuality.
As healthy adult we are able to pursue and enjoy our pleasures but we also are able to look at and live through our pain. Our constructive adaptations and our flexible defences allow us to achieve important aims. We have learnt how to get what we want and we have repudiated the forbidden and the impossible, though we still – through our fantasies – tune into their claims.
But we know how to make a distinction between reality and fantasy.
And we’re able – or able enough – to accept reality.
And we’re willing – for the most part – to seek most of our gratification in the real world.
As healthy adults we know that reality cannot offer us perfect safety or unconditional love.
As healthy adults we know that reality cannot provide us with special treatment or absolute control.
As healthy adults we know that reality cannot compensate us for past disappointments, sufferings and loss.
And as healthy adults we eventually come to understand, as we play our friend spouse parent family roles, the limited nature of every human relationship.
But the trouble with healthy adulthood is that few of us are consistently adult. Furthermore, our conscious goals are often sabotaged unconsciously. For the infantile wishes we sometimes glimpse in dreams or fantasies exercise great power outside our awareness. And these infantile wishes may burden our work and our love with quite impossible expectations.
Asking too much of the people we love or ask too much of ourselves, we aren’t – who is? – the “healthy adults” we should be. Growing takes time and we may be a long time leaning to balance our dreams and our realities.
We may be a long time learning that life is, at best, “ a dream controlled” – that reality is built of imperfect connections.
3. THIS WEEK IN GAMING
“Let’s talk about WASD, bay-be, let’s talk about you and me…”
Three sections in section three this week:
Work @ WASD
Games @ WASD
Interesting general games stuff.
Let’s kick off with WASD.
I know I’ve mentioned it before but in case you skipped it last time around, WASD is a brand new London-based video games expo with a core focus on the indie dev scene. My new lot (I don’t know much longer I can say that but I’m milking it for as much as I can), Diva, were the headline sponsor for the main stage and the industry mixer on the evening of the first day.
I was(d) there Thursday for work stuff and Saturday for a family trip and that’s how I’m going to split my write up.
WORK @ WASD: Playable Futures
At 5pm on the Thursday, Diva presented an IRL version of Playable Futures. Playable Futures is a series of interviews with industry leaders talking about their visions for the future of play (you can download the full set of volume one right here via Ukie).
For the IRL version, Diva brought together games veterans Agostino Simoetta (Chief Games Officer, Thunderful), Gina Jackson OBE (a leader of diversity, mental health, and skills development in video games), John Clark (CEO, Curve Games) … and me!
Given the seniority of the people on the panel, we wanted to ground the session in two areas not only relevant to the future of games but also reflective of what Diva’s mission is in the industry: leading with people first values.
In an industry where toxic workplace stories are rife but everyone is crying out for new talent (sounds like advertising), hearing new CEOs and mental health leaders discuss their thoughts and plans for their respective approaches to leadership was genuinely fascinating.
John spoke about his years at Sega and everything he learnt and the journey he’s taking Curve on as we speak. Ago pulled from his years at Xbox and talked about how the values he learned there have inspired him to be a better leader at Thunderful. And Gina was amazing with the industry stats and figures (and her experiences) on hand to hold them both to account.
Tell you what: I bloody loved it.
I am told we have the video so as soon as that is edited and up, you’ll be the first to know…
FAM @ WASD: Playable Games
On the Saturday me and the eldest returned to WASD to play ALL THE GAMES!
And what games they were!
There were so many GREAT games on show!
Trek to Yomi (amazing 2.5D Kurosawa-style slash-em up)
Cult of Lamb (my single-player best in show)
Silt (Limbo-esque underwater creepy af)
Sword Ship (arcadey, weapon-free racer - great playability)
Golf Gang (my multiplayer best in show - SO MUCH FUN)
Cursed to Golf (really nice 80s style golf/platformer mash-up)
Shadow Warrior 3 (NUTS)
Power Wash Simulator (sooooo chill)
Two Point Campus (sequel to Hosptial, and better with it)
Grapple Dog (playable AS HELL - and all of about £12 on Switch)
Post Void (like an insane FPS Hotline Miami)
Honestly, look ALL these games up.
Like I said, they were just the highlights.
The key takeout for me is that I don’t have anything to play Steam games on at the house. In lieu of buying a gaming PC (not happening - we have all the consoles so justifying another outlay will be HARD) I’m currently looking at an Nvidia GEForce Now sub via the Nvidia Shield just so we can play the new games listed above (and more). So we’ll see how that bottoms out later.
What else can I tell you?
General interesting games-related stuff.
Some very quick things:
The UK consumer games market is now worth a record figure of £7.16bn. According to the latest figures published by Ukie, this is a 1.9% increase on its previous peak that landed after the first lockdown year 2020. This is great slide fodder.
Ofcom published the Children and parents: media use and attitudes report 2022, on its own, is always an engrossing read. But it features a fair amount of gaming stat love. eg: Six in ten children aged 3-17 played games online in 2021, increasing to three-quarters of 12-17s. I’m going to revisit another part of this later on in the newsletter but whatever, you should read it all - there be gold in them hills.
So you’ve binged the perfect game, now what? This, from WIRED, is about how you feel when you’ve completely done a game. Now for me, I switch genres. If I’ve done a racer, I’ll go puzzler. If I’ve done a huge AAA, I’ll go indie. But that’s just me - what do you do?
This report is from 2020 and I think I missed it the first time around but the tl;dr is simply: video games can be good for your wellbeing.
4. BECAUSE SO MUCH HAS HAPPENED SINCE WE LAST SPOKE I SIMPLY HAVE TO POINT AND LAUGH AT A FEW MORE METAVERSE THINGS, IM SORRY
I saw this on LinkedIn and honestly came close to tears.
You want more things to point and laugh at?
OK, how’s this. The following two slides are from the same presentation given at IAB Play Fronts last week (images via the poor Kerry Flynn who had to sit through this).
This first slide CLEARLY STATES that ‘WEB 3.0’ is ‘the metaverse’ and can be defined as ‘an immersive decentralized internet - read-write-own’.
And then… ‘What is the metaverse?’
‘The metaverse is the digital universe (???) - the collection of ALL immersive experiences - including games, virtual worlds, and social experiences’
Oh my God I actually hate it 😭
Definition 1: it’s the decentralised immersive internet
Definition 2: oh wait, it’s actually Minecraft, and Roblox, and and and and…
Both are wrong.
The metaverse doesn’t exist.
Online virtual spaces exist. Online games exist. You could even argue metaversal activities exist. At a push, you could call Roblox or Minecraft metaversal spaces.
But you’d be a dick if you did.
Because these things are games. They are online spaces. In fact, scratch all that - they are simply what it means to be ‘online’ today. Calling them “the metaverse” is either obfuscation in the name of marketing hype or idiocy dressed up as ignorance - and I’m so bored of it.
There will be a time soon when ‘metaverse’ will be disconnected from all things web3 and NFT etc. Online social spaces where people can hang out have been around FOR DECADES.
I mentioned the Ofcom media usage and attutudes report earlier, here’s a chart from that report:
Not a single mention of the the metaverse. AT ALL.
Because it’s not a thing.
Even when EPIC and LEGO announce their own ‘METAVERSE’ partnership (I gave some comment on this to Adweek last week - written up on Diva’s website yesterday), neither of them actually mean ‘the metaverse’ - it’s just an easier shorthand to talk about an online gaming/social space. And maybe that’s just what the word will eventually mean.
Shall we move on?
5. SUCCESS AND FAILURE AT PEBBLE
I loved my Pebble.
But it is no more.
Matt Muir shared this article with me earlier in the week looking at exactly how and why that happened.
ACCORDING TO SUBSTACK, THIS WEEK’S NEWSLETTER IS ALREADY ‘TOO LONG FOR EMAIL’ BUT DO I LOOK LIKE I CARE? NO. RIGHT THEN. MORE LINKS? OK. LET’S GO.
The guy that bought the NFT of Jack Dorsey’s first tweet for $2.9m tried to sell it. That went as well as you’d expect. Reminds me, I need a Chrome plug-in that replaces ‘NFT’ with ‘url that points to a jpg’.
Olympics 2028? I’m in.
Yishan Wong on Elon and Twitter (the only thing worth reading on it tbh).
Matt Navarra invited me onto his Social Media Geekout Twitter Space. You can listen to the recording of that right here.
Making a real bat signal (and why everything you’ve been told about this to date is a lie).
YOU ARE REACHING THE END OF THE NEWSLETTER. MIND THE GAP.
It’s been a long one and I’m grateful to you for reading.
Drop a reply and say hi.
And also, for those of us that have the time off, enjoy the extra long weekend y’all.
Whatley out x