Brendan SinclairManaging EditorFriday 19th February 2021Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareHere’s an awful lifehack for people looking to get media coverage for something that probably wouldn’t merit it on its own. I know I’m telling you this, but please don’t do this.First, you have to understand that virtually all media these days relies on attention. An outlet driven by ads needs eyeballs to sell to advertisers. An outlet driven by subscriptions needs to regularly provide those subscribers with stories they want to read.Attention is hard to get. A small handful of companies are big enough and influential enough that their every move gets attention. For everyone else, they need to make an argument that their thing is worth covering instead of everyone else’s. It has to stand out, maybe because it looks great, it’s from a beloved developer, or it’s part of a known franchise.While those are, to some extent, under a person’s direct control, it takes varying amounts of money, talent, and luck to have your project qualify for any of those reasons for coverage.It’s much easier, much cheaper, and much more within a person’s individual control, to make their project interesting instead. Maybe it has some shock value to it. Maybe the project is unbelievably absurd, or unabashedly ambitious. Maybe the premise is just so unworkable on the surface of it that people will check it out just to see how you’ll pull it off (or how spectacularly you’ll fail).But there’s another, more calculating way to generate attention, and that’s to pursue something you know people will object to. Team up with an influencer known for racist statements. Make a game about mass murder during an epidemic of mass shootings. Make Valve choose between its principles and basic human decency. Now you need to have thick skin for this approach, because it absolutely relies on people roasting you. Indeed, it works better the more thoroughly you get burned, the more zestfully people dunk on you. (Up to a point, anyway. If you’re too toxic for storefronts to even sell your game, you’ve gone a bit too far.) So go ahead and do some interviews about your game. Don’t worry about how flimsy or contradictory your arguments might be. Go ahead and say things you know will get people riled up.I’m not saying all press is good press. But I understand why people do this. If you don’t think good press is an option and you’re in a market crowded with offerings of all kinds, shapes, and sizes, you might decide that bad press is better no press.So aside from cynical motivations about getting page views, why would the press play along and enable this tactic? First of all, there are a lot of times we don’t, and you never hear about the project because it doesn’t get coverage. Or it gets covered on one site but not another, because everyone makes their own editorial decisions.Second, there’s something to be said for the press acting as part of the immune system for a healthy society (or in the case of games journalism, a healthy industry). The idea is that once something bad has been brought to light, other parties with more direct power and influence would then intervene, as Valve did in one of the above examples. “Sunlight is the best disinfectant,” as the saying goes.But as the last decade-plus has shown in games and in society as a whole, this is a deeply unreliable process. In many cases, the institutions with the power to hold people accountable are either unwilling or unable to use that power. As a result, accountability and genuine consequences for harmful actions are not only getting rarer, they’re getting less expected. In light of that, maybe it’s a good time for the press as a whole to re-evaluate some of our coverage decisions and adapt them to a world where immune systems don’t always work the way they should. But I digress. For now, let’s talk about an entirely unrelated assortment of quotes and stats from the week in gaming.QUOTE | “We can’t tell the story without telling the rest of it. We have to give players the context for why they’re in the city, why this battle exists.” – Victura CEO Peter Tamte explains how essential it is for the studio to provide players with proper context for the company’s upcoming Six Days in Fallujah.QUOTE | “We’re not asking players to commit atrocities in the game. Are we effectively sanitizing events by not doing that? I don’t think that we need to portray the atrocities in order for people to understand the human cost. We can do that without the atrocities.” – In the same interview, Tamte explains how he’ll be omitting some pretty key context with Six Days in Fallujah.QUOTE | “It’s like how many nukes have you got? If my biggest competitor was to sue me, there will almost certainly be something in their 15,000 patents that I probably arguably infringed. And probably more than one. But if I also have a load of patents in broadly a similar area, if they did that to me, I could probably find quite a few things they do in their software which probably arguably infringes a bunch of my patents. It’s a kind of mutually assured destruction.” – In a discussion on the GamesIndustry.biz podcast prompted by Warner Bros. being granted a patent for Shadow of Mordor’s Nemesis system, Kostya Lobov of law firm Harbottle & Lewis joins us to talk about the completely rational and not-at-all absurd world of software patents.QUOTE | “Bringing Star Wars: Hunters to the Nintendo Switch and its passionate fan-base marks an exciting milestone for Zynga. We… are excited to see Switch players embrace our foray into console gaming.” – In a press release for Star Wars: Hunters, Zynga president of publishing Bernard Kim talks up how happy the company is to announce its first console game.QUOTE | “I used to work on console and PC, and I’ll never go back.” – In a 2016 interview, Zynga CEO and former EA studios head Frank Gibeau talks up how happy he is to not be dealing with console games any more.QUOTE | “We have a pretty large cash balance to go after more companies. We remain aggressive and inquisitive around buying more game studios and tech companies that we believe can be added to Zynga.” – Zynga president of publishing Bernard Kim says the social game publisher is looking to continue its string of acquisitions like Gram Games, Small Giant, Peak Games, and Rollic.QUOTE | “While we can’t wait to gather in the halls of Moscone together again, and we did consider an in-person component this year, we have decided that it’s more important that our speakers, attendees and sponsors be able to plan ahead, to continue to be as safe as possible, and to spend our attention on delivering the best possible GDC.” – Game Developers Conference organizers this week pulled the plug on plans for a hybrid in-person/remote GDC in San Francisco in July.QUOTE | “To play for the first time is what’s magical, and the platform holders need to figure out how to deliver that experience to their fans during an E3-like digital experience. I think that would be huge.” – Former Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime gives his suggestion for what E3 needs to do this year with its own digital event.STAT | 50% – Thethrottling Nvidia’s RTX 3060 graphics cards will do on Ethereum cryptocurrency mining operations, in an attempt to stop cryptocurrency miners from snagging all the gaming graphics cards on the market and making them hard to find for actual players. QUOTE | “[Cryptocurrency Mining Processor] products — which don’t do graphics — are sold through authorized partners and optimized for the best mining performance and efficiency.” – Nvidia’s global head of GeForce marketing Matt Weubbling reassures people that the company is not objecting to cryptocurrency mining, but instead launching a separate line of high-end cards specifically for people who leave their computers running for a living.Related JobsEnvironment Artists – New IP South East Creative AssemblyLead Sound Designer South East Creative AssemblyRemote Environment Artist Console Studio UK UK & Europe Big PlanetDiscover more jobs in games QUOTE | “We’ve been working for more than a year on another gaming project, another horror IP, and we’re doing this with a very famous gaming publisher. I can’t tell you who. I can’t tell you what the project is, but I’m pretty sure when people realize we’re working on it, they will be very excited.” – Bloober Team CEO Peter Babieno teases something in an interview because he’s either working on a Silent Hill game or really enjoys playing with the emotions of that poor, poor fanbase. QUOTE | “No IDFA? No Problem.” – The name of an initiative from a group of mobile advertising companies who see Apple’s new requirement that iOS users opt-in to tracking in the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) program as such a non-problem that they felt collective action with their competitors was necessary to prepare them for a post-IDFA mobile industry.QUOTE | “The idea that I used social media to promote GameStop stock to unwitting investors is preposterous. I was abundantly clear that my channel was for educational purposes only, and that my aggressive style of investing was unlikely to be suitable for most folks checking out the channel.” – In prepared testimony before the US House Financial Services Committee regarding the recent GameStop stock surge, YouTube influencer Roaring Kitty insists he has no influence on his audience.
The Alabama Shakes have shaken the foundations once again with one of the most highly-anticipated albums of 2015, Sound & Color. Following the massive success of their debut album, Boys & Girls (2012), expectations have been stacked high for their follow-up. Any concerns of a sophomore slump will immediately vanish after one good listen.Sound & Color is a sophomore slam-dunk that tremendously expands the band’s already highly-inspired musical breadth. While Boys & Girls gave us mammoth bluesy hits such as, “Hold On” and “You Ain’t Alone,” Sound & Color pushes this Grammy nominated powerhouse’s outstanding ability even further, as they venture into new and exciting musical terrains.The lifeblood of the band is lead singer/guitarist Brittany Howard, who continues to spread her wings most impressively. Her guitar work and vocal performances are soulful, inspired and from the depths of her fiery heart. Alabama Shakes always evokes the finest and most soulful portions of American music, creating an unflinchingly classic yet contemporary sound. This time they continue along that timeline of Rock n’ Roll, highlighting and reviving even more of the ingredients that made up some of the greatest music ever recorded.Beginning with the impassioned title track, Howard’s vocals channel the soul of a young Curtis Mayfield. With the introduction of vibraphones, the song rises slowly like a steadily-building storm cloud. As the song culminates and after all the sounds and colors have blended perfectly, it’s clear that there is something different stirring in the pot; something fresh, bold and experimental. The following song, “Don’t Wanna Fight” swiftly picks up the pace and delivers the album’s first single. Howard’s earth-shattering vocals burst out of the speakers with no restraint and if your foot isn’t stomping by the time the funk-filled chorus comes around, you may be clinically dead.Equally as inspired is the Zeppelin-esque “Gimme All Your Love,” which bestows an airy blues-filled sound similar to “Since I’ve Been Loving You” (minus John Bonham’s squeaky kick-pedal). Check out their recent performance of the single on SNL:On the 60‘s-styled “Shoegaze,” Brittany seems to take on the stylings of Mick Jagger. Meanwhile, on the soul-heavy “Guess Who,” we hear echoes of “Mercy, Mercy Me” as Howard’s vocals begin to emanate the spirit of Marvin Gaye. Much of Sound & Color shares this vibe of an early 70’s soul record, especially on the softer groove “This Feeling” and the slow burn of “Gemini” on the latter end of the album.“I don’t know whose problem it is – I don’t know whose fuck to give,” wails a heartfelt Brittany Howard on the album’s third track, “Dunes.” This and the fervid “Miss You” find the band returning to their soulful blues-rock roots. The passion simply cannot be contained as the music erupts with a remorseless fury unmatched by any band of their caliber.Sound & Color brings back the rootsy soul from the early days of Rock n’ Roll, unearthing the natural beauty of the music that so heavily inspired the rock legends of the 60’s and 70’s. The musical design within Alabama Shakes pre-dates all of our greatest rock deities from over the past fifty-plus years. This is the heartbeat that created everything we love about Rock n’ Roll. Sound & Color is a masterful musical accomplishment in its purest form, and Alabama Shakes continues to make their increasingly permanent mark on the endless timeline of Rock n’ Roll.By Joseph Conlon