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Five things on Friday #355
Things of note for the week ending Saturday October 21st, 2023
Well it’s been maybe five days since the last one, let’s go again shall we?
I promise they’re not usually these common. Honest. One might begin to think this was a regular newsletter!
Friday weekend, fam.
I am starting this week’s edition in the early hours of Thursday morning (My youngest has been up coughing all night and after carrying them back to their own bed twice, I gave up around 530ish and came to the desk to start writing) in the hope that I’ll get it done and out and scheduled for Friday but let’s see how we go.
[EDIT: lol, that did not work at all did it?]
How’s your week?
It’s been hectic here. The agency is in peak pre-Christmas craziness. Back to backs, client checks for this [redacted] thing, drumming up excitement for that other [redacted] thing, lining up stuff for other [more redacted] things - updates to come soon, promise - and a linkedin message box going nuts (thanks?!) and yet looking out the window here… the rain hasn’t stopped.
It is definitely October.
The snails are out in force and the plants are getting their annual soak.
But hey, the grass is always greener when you water it, right?
Tonight (Thursday night) I’m getting suited and booted and all dolled up for the annual GamesAid Gala. Now in its sophomore year, last year’s inaugural event raised nearly £30,000(!) for GamesAid charities and I cant’ wait to see what the UK games industry can do this time around… (EDIT: hello!)
Speaking of FUNDRAISING. I forgot to update you last week! Two Five things on Fridays ago (FToF #353) I was out with cap in hand to support Team Diva and help us raise money for War Child UK as we prepared to run TOUGH MUDDER.
Well, last week I forgot to mention that - we did it!
And thanks to you generous lot, we raised over £5000 for War Child (£5127 to be exact). Thank you, thank you thank you - to all of you that donated and supported and shared. It was hugely appreciated.
And in a show of my appreciation I will gift thee FIVE THINGS ON FRIDAY.
Shall we get to them?
1. SERPENT D'OCÉAN
Let’s kick off this week with the bones of a giant snake because why not.
Just off the shore of the Loire estuary outside of Nantes, France, a slithering serpent rises from the water. Completed in 2012, Serpent d'océan is an impressive 425-foot (130 meters) sculpture by French Chinese contemporary artist Huang Yong Ping and is part of the Estuaire permanent public art collection along the estuary's 37 miles.
A classic dip into My Modern Met this week yielded this absolute belter. I’ve not been to see this but imagine a) you didn’t know it was there and b) just happening upon it one night on a walk along the beach. Terrifying. But also: kind of gorgeous?
2. DECONSTRUCTING LICHTENSTEIN
So here’s something I learnt this week:
Lichtenstein was a thief.
In a back and forth between some Neil Gaiman comic books fans on Threads earlier this week, I found out that a) Lichtenstein a pilferer of art from multiple comic books and the artists that did the original work and b) Neil Gaiman actually had the Museum of Modern Art update its description of ‘Drowning Girl’ to include the original artist.
I went deep on this one.
Here’s a good piece of background on the overall mission to uncover all the original source material.
Here’s a link to the Deconstructing Lichtenstein flickr page that serves to capture and document the original source material (mind. blown).
I’m never going to look at a Lichtenstein the same way ever again.
3. THIS WEEK IN GAMING
Friday October 20th is basically Barbenheimer for gamers.
If you’ve been under a rock for the past few weeks then you’d be forgiven for not knowing that the BOTH INCREDIBLY WELL REVIEWED MEGA HIT GAMES ‘Super Mario Wonder’ and ‘Marvel’s Spider-Man 2’ were coming out today.
If you’ve got a Nintendo Switch, you should get Mario.
If you’ve got a PlayStation 5, you should get get Spidey 2.
(And if you’ve got an Xbox, you’ve already got Forza Motorsport and Starfield).
Basically, y’all spoilt. Which one are you going for? I’m already playing Mario and there’s no way my kids will let get through the weekend without picking up Spider-Man… dammit (as a useful aside, ShopTo or Instant Gaming are where I buy my console store credit from, you can regularly get 15% off the usual price from these websites).
What else can I tell you?
QUICK NEWS BITES
The second edition of the Women in Games ‘Building a Fair Playing Field’ report is available now. This is a chunky report - with clear guidance, examples, and recommendations on how to not only improve the games industry for women but also attract more women into games. Leadership Leadership Leadership. Even if you’re not interested in gaming or games, I would recommend this to you anyway as a great example of what good looks like.
Related - and to address some of the areas highlighted in the report above - Mastercard has launch the Mastercard Gamer Academy - with a specific focus on inclusion and inclusive gaming. I really like this. I've been noodling* for a while now on what OTHER WAYS brands can get involved more meaningfully in gaming and this effort from Mastercard is a great example of doing something DIFFERENT and with MEANING (not everything has to be a Fortnite island, you guys). Well done to all involved. *More on the noodling another time…
Sony Pictures Core (previously known as Bravia Core) is now available on PlayStation 5. And it must be said: the quality on this thing is INCREDIBLE. The Verge reports on just how much of a big deal this is - basically due to the high bitrate stream, it’s significantly better than anything Netflix or Amazon can deliver in terms of performance. PlayStation users get some perks on this as well. First off, Plus Premium subscribers get access to a bunch of older films (I tried this out and booted up the original Hellboy movie - again, incredible quality). Second, Gran Turismo is available on Core first and if you buy the $20 edition you get in-game credits to spend too. Not bad. More of this cross-entertainment synchronisation please Sony, thanks.
The Analogue 3D was announced. Basically a new console from Analogue that promises to play EVERY N64 GAME IN FULL 4K. No images yet, just a tease on the website but I can see this coming in at around $149-$199 and is definitely one for the ol’ nostalgia nerds. Speaking as someone who still has his fully working N64 in the cupboard, I don’t know if the 4K attraction is enough but I’ll keep an eye on it and update you as and when.
‘What’s the matter babe? You’ve not touched your… £875 Elden Ring Bomber jacket’ - wtf.
I really like this new ad from Xbox - ‘Wake up and Dream’
Finally, The industry layoffs show no sign of slowing. I properly hope this is an inflection point for the industry. New studios, smaller more agile teams, better financial management… something has got to give so this doesn’t happen again. It’s brutal.
WHAT AM I PLAYING?
Don’t get me wrong, while Spider-Man 2 will be downloading at some point this weekend and Super Mario Wonder literally dropped through the letterbox yesterday (I played it on the train into London last night and if you don’t laugh like a child at the singing piranha plants in level two then you are dead inside), I must confess between this edition and last, I completely crumbled and picked up ASSASSIN’S CREED MIRAGE and sheeeeeeeeee’s a beauty.
It’s going to be hard to put this down for Spider-Mario Weekend but hey this year is NUTS for killer games. How do you choooooose?!
4. FIND YOUR DAYLIST PLAYLIST
Open the app, go to search and type ‘Daylist’ - et voila, one instant personalised playlist based upon what you normally listen to on that day.
I love this.
Thanks to Paul W for the tip x
5. THE META GLASSHOLES ARE COMING
This is a long edition already so I won’t go mega long on this however what with Meta Quest 3’s pass-through being seriously fantastic, some people (in guess where: America!) have started wearing them… out.
Completely normal behaviour.
I’m still umming and ahhing about an MQ3 but IF I do end up pulling the trigger on one, I will NEVER wear it outside, let alone to the ACTUAL COFFEE SHOP YOU MENTALISTS.
THIS IS THE BONUS SECTION. THAT PART LIKE MOST OTHER NEWSLETTERS WHERE PEOPLE JUST LINK TO THINGS THEY’VE LIKED THIS WEEK BUT INSTEAD OF IT BEING RUBBISH, MY VERSION OF IT IS ACTUALLY QUITE GREAT.
On Monday I found out I had been made a ‘Top Gaming Industry Voice’ on Linkedin. A Linkedin rep slide into my DMs a few weeks ago and asked if I wanted to contribute to some articles - I did, and people liked my contributions and so then I got my badge. Lovely. It turns out, eventually you could a topic-based specialist voice too. It’s not difficult to trigger apparently but if you’re going to do it, do it in a way that adds value, thanks x.
The three Doctor Who showrunners being nerdy about the show’s music (among other things) is as nerdy as you’d expect it to be.
Netflix is raising its prices to make its premium tier an eye-watering £18 a month here in the UK. Discussed it with the fam and some pals and I think that’s us out.
Related,is good on Netflix’s most recent earnings call and more so because she links to this perfect letter from Emma Thompson that I think I somehow missed the first time around.
The Meta Quest 3 is a seriously impressive piece of kit (still not committing - it might be a Christmas present. That or a Steamdeck, basically - which one though?!) - a better use, inside.
WPP merged VMLY&R with Wunderman Thompson this week. Goodbye Wunderman, goodbye Y&R, goodbye JWT… so many dead advertising brands consigned to the bin of history - and they went and called it ‘VML’. It’s as dull as it is depressing.
Reddit is killing its blockchain-based community points system. Shooketh, I am.
Reuters is reporting Meta is laying off employees in its Metaverse silicon unit.
Finally, if, like me, coffee is your thing, may I suggest the PACT COFFEE advent calendar? I've ordered mine and it's an annual highlight (and this is not an ad - I just really like Pact).
YOU ARE REACHING THE END OF THE NEWSLETTER. HOLD TIGHT.
A couple of nice OREO things this week. The Xbox Cheat Cookies campaign picked up an astonishing 19 awards at the LIA London International Awards last week.
This is insane?
And the OREO Twists UK campaign (one of the very last things I touched on the UK team) has been shortlisted in the 2023 DMAs. Best of luck gang!
And that’s this week’s edition away. As I write this to you now it’s 4am on Saturday morning (and I’m scheduling this for 9am - I’m not a monster).
I’ve been up since about 2am with a rotten headache and snotty nose (I think getting caught outside in the rain after the GamesAid Gala has given me a horrible cold) and I thought before I give up and just play some video games, I’ll see if I can get FToF finished and scheduled - and here we are.
I hope you’ve got a decent weekend lined up and if you haven't, then maybe do what I’m going to do and put your duvet on the sofa and play a shed ton of Assassin’s Creed Mirage / Super Mario Wonder / Spider-Man (delete where appropriate).
Until next time,
Whatley out x
PS. Do me a favour this week would you? Share this newsletter with someone you think might enjoy it. Or if you’ve enjoyed something specifically from this week’s edition, please share either on social, or in an email to your team. All shares and recommendations are really appreciated - and it helps this Substack grow. Thank you x