What would you say
Who is the king?
Who is the Duke? Hint: He never made a western.
Now here is a hard one. Who is the most hated man in America? As you can see in the picture above, at least for the moment there are three possible answers. First is Jesse James (no not the western outlaw but he claims to be one of his relatives). I am, of course, speaking about the man who cheated on Sandra Bullock, who described himself as the most hated man in America. The second (and in my book most likely) candidate is the CEO of BP Oil – the company that brought you the massive oil slick killing off the wildlife and economy along the Gulf of Mexico. Yes the man whereof I speak is none other than Tony Hayward.
The last man is the subject of an interview that Kotaku.com sent out in their newsletter. The article was entitled, “A Delightful Chat with the most with the most hated man video games.” Now for those of you who think that Messer Kotick should be at the top of our “most hated” list it seems to me that he can’t hold a candle to the CEO of BP Oil and our own personal favorite, Senator Joe Lieberman – the man intent on putting a kill switch on the internet .
So is Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision, really misunderstood? He thinks so at least. Here is a quote from the article (this was emailed to us so we do not have an online source for you):
The negative image, the hate for Kotick among some gamers is driven by several things, Kotick tells me. Being the top person at the top third-party game developer brings with it a certain level of attention and animosity. And it doesn’t help that Kotick can be quite colorful in the way he talks to analysts. “There are four to five things that I’ve said that can totally be taken out of context,” he said. “Like ‘Taking the fun out of making video games.’ I’ve used that line for a really long time with the investment community to explain that ‘Hey, we’re mindful of our responsibility to provide a return to our investors.’”
“It was kind of like a joke!”
Kotick’s inflammatory comments, like that he would charge more for a game if he could, come often because he forgets the size of his audience when he’s talking during a panel or investor call. He doesn’t seem to grasp just how closely people follow him these days.
“The world has changed,” he tells me, defending his word choice. “I never really think to edit what I’m saying because it’s going to be taken out of context because somebody’s going to hear it in a different way. But you don’t build a successful business by overcharging your customers. And you certainly don’t build a successful business that requires a tremendous amount of creativity and inspiration and innovation by figuring out how to take the fun and joy out of what people do. It’s like an obvious thing to me to think if you hear something like that; you’re going to think it’s funny, it’s not meant to be serious.”
I’m not totally sold on what Kotick is selling and I tell him so. You can’t use a word like exploit and expect people not to be riled up by it, I point out.
Do you, I ask Kotick, sometimes say these things because you want a reaction? Maybe you’re poking the Internet to see what happens.
“No, I’m not like that,” Kotick says. “I love to poke people to get a reaction but monetization, exploit, those are the words the investment community uses.
“You know what, I look at that and say, exploit is a bad choice of words. I don’t mean that to be that way, I was not thinking about it in a way, or using it in a way that it was misconstrued. I actually think there’s a better choice of words that more accurately describes what I was thinking at the time. It’s not a big deal.”
The hate mail, the negative articles in blogs and the pictures quickly hit home when Kotick started seeing them.
“Oh yeah, I think [gamers' perspective of me] is totally inaccurate,” he says.
So is Messer Kotick simply misunderstood? He is, perhaps, a victim of a public image that, consciously or not, he has woven himself. More than once we here on the NPNM team have met someone whose public persona was entirely different from the private person (and not necessarily better). For better or worse, whether the public image Mr. Kotick portrays is earned or not (and we will likely never really know) the fact remains that public trust is an elusive quality. It is something that is hard to earn, easy to lose, and once lost nearly impossible to get back.
One of our favorite web sites, Terra Nova (it always makes us think) has an entry from Dr. Richard Bartle. It is basically a youtube video of a young man who’s girlfriend deleted all his WoW characters because she was “sick of it”. We have to agree, as Dr. Bartle and others indicate, that the video looks like a put on. However, the question Dr. Bartle asks is an interesting one:
“So, if he sued her, what would the legal arguments involve?” – Dr. Bartle
If it isn’t painfully obvious by now, no one on staff here is a lawyer (although I understand our own Sister Julie has studied Tort Law) so no one here can answer the question. What the video does put us all in mind of is a television “chat show” we saw some time ago that featured a girlfriend who was tired of her boyfriends WoW habit. On the show the boyfriend shreaded the wow disks to the happy applause of the audience – all the while the gamers watching the tube just snickered, realizing this wouldn’t stop the boyfriend from playing WoW at all.
We just found this over at our favorite website that makes us think (yes we occassionally just sit down and talk to each other believe it or not). It is an article we found over at Terra Nova about Cory Doctorow’s “For the Win”. The best news is that for those of us on a limited budget you can download the book for free and read it. It free, its a book with a “vision of the near-future MMO landscape” and it sounds like a must read to us. Hells bells we would probably read it just to tick off Garrison Keillor.
No Prisoners, Gnomercy
It seems that Sister Julie has finally given in an gone back to World of Warcraft. She has asked me to pass along that the good sisters have been running on the Alliance side of late, rediscovering the old world. If you want to join them at some point, send us a message.