Monday, October 30, 2006

SHUT UP AND DESIGN!




I was talking to my wife this weekend about how bummed I was that I'm very quickly becomming one of the most hated men in video games.

I told her: I just don't get it. I try to do interviews and blog in the same way I talk to most people in my real life (i.e. being a pretty nice guy, when I'm not ultra stressed out). And yet, more and more, I'm seeing people who are like: FUCK JAFFE! HE'S AN ASS!

Now, sure, some of that is to be expected. When you are in a public role, you can't escape it. And when you pursue a public role (like I have), you're really just asking for it. And when you pursure a public role where MOST of the folks who buy your products are avid net users, you are pretty much fucked no matter which way you slice it.

Now yeah, you gotta chalk some of it up to the fact that some folks are just little babies who will complain and bitch about ANYTHING as long as they can do it hidden behind a stupid-ass user name. That stuff does not bother me in the least. Hell, most times it's kinda of funny (albeit pathetic).

But that's not what is happening here, at least that's not what it feels like. It feels like I've really offended some nice, normal, forward thinking people. And I don't want that; not in my real life, not in my 'public' life. I like gamers alot and feel a strong connection with fellow geeks, with folks who love games and movies and comics. So it bums me out that every step I take these days, I keep putting my foot in my mouth.

So I was talking to my wife about it; about WHY I seem to be doing it....and she really opened my eyes. She's real smart that way :)

I told her: look, I'm just a normal guy who doesn't want to bullshit people and do the PR dance. I want to just express how I really am; what I think. I'm not saying anything that most other geeks don't say when sitting around shooting the shit.

And she says: that's your problem.

And I go: why?

She says: Because you are in the public eye amongst gamers. And you CAN NOT just type and talk when you are in the public eye like you talk to your friends or co-workers. Because, like it or not, what you say carries weight. NOT because what you are saying is necessarily worthy of weight but because you are in the public eye (as far as console video gamers go). And so when you go "Dude, Xbox Live Arcade is lame compared to Sony's Downloadable Games", this is 100% fine to do sitting around, shooting the shit with your buddies. Everyone does it. You may not even mean what you are saying, but are saying it for the hell of it; to get a rise out of someone you know is a hard core Xbox fan. Again, this is totally fine with your friends. But when you do it on a blog or in an interview, it comes across as being more than just shooting the shit; or taking the piss out of the competition. It comes across as REAL. And that is why people are getting upset. They don't view you as a guy just sitting around gabbing and tossing off stuff that may be true, may be biased, may be just you goofing around, or may be just you saying something that is true for one day but not true for the next. They view it as the opinion of someone who works for Sony. And to some of those guys, that means war!

She told me she was watching The Dixie Chicks on Oprah and the lead singer- who said the Dixie Chicks were ashamed of Geroge Bush- didn't get why she could not just express her opinion like everyone else. And hearing that, it was clear to me why I've made a bit of a mess of things in regards to whatever public image I may have. It's because I really did just want to be 100% me with everyone. And that's a nice wish. But now I see that it's naive to assume that you can do that when you are NOT just a guy hanging out at Taco Bell while bitching about the latest game release or the latest hardware slip up.

When the spotlight is on you, I guess- within reason- you do need to put on a bit of a show. Nothing fake, no lies. But you need to realize that what you say is never a tossed aside flip comment. Whatever you say lives on.

So new leaf time for Jaffe, folks.

I'll never lie and never sell you bullshit. Ever. I just don't want to be a part of that. But I will hold my tounge more often than I used to and I will think before I speak/type. And not because I want to come across as a likable guy. But because it's the right thing to do. And because I LIKE gamers and even if they don't like the games I make, I want most of them to like me. Because we are brothers in our geekdom, I feel. We all love games and comics and movies and we should all be getting along alot better than we do and saving our real hatred for those folks that really deserve it: the jocks.

I'm kidding! Jeeze, I'm kidding!

Ok, back to work!

See ya!

David

ps. and if you happen to be someone reading this who works for a gaming web site, please for the love of God, do NOT make this into a news story. I mean, it's your job so if you think it's news, go ahead. I guess that's part of it too. For some reason, some sites out there insist on turning 80% of my posts into news stories. And I guess I need to be ok with that as well and know that this is always a possibility.

20 comments:

oto said...

That's what you get when you mess with Ashlee Simpson. :)

da criminal said...

I guess so...at least post nose job Ashlee...She was prob. fair game when she was average looking and doing the ho-down on Saturday Night Live.

Arnaldo Licea said...

I agree with what your wife says. Plus you are not a $100 bill that has to be liked by everybody (my mom says that a lot). I don't like bullshit, nobody likes bullshit so its good that you have taken this step into not being this biased Sony employee.

Thinking purely as a designer/gamer and not as an employee is the best thing you can do. And forget about the people who say negative stuff about you because they don't know what they're talking about.

You're cool, so keep it up and don't think about it too much.

-Arnaldo Licea

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,
Need to have thick skin

Dutch DeGay said...

Dave,

Hey, f' em if they can't take a joke.

I mean no disrespect here but we're talking about the videogame industry. Nobody is fighting and dying in the videogame industry, you know? Oh by the way, there really ARE people out there fighting and dying everyday. These people really need a little focus or at least a reality check.

The folks that dislike what you say make it sound like you kill babies in your front yard for the 6 o'clock news for god's sake! One of the reasons you've been such a big hit with us Dave is that we get your unbiased opinion, like we ARE your buds just sitting around drinking beer and shooting the shit. That's what we like.

It kills me that even the videogame industry has to be PC?! If your product sucks...it just sucks, deal with it and deal with the fact that people will say out loud that your product sucks.

I'm sick and tired of EVERYONE kissing the Japanese's ass for Metal Gear, Zelda and Mario! They're great games but variations on the origianl and we didn't start to hear the thoughts from the men behind them until only recently. And what about Cliffy B and the like? I mean nobody has an opinion about the fact that he thinks he's a damn rockstar or something? Well folks already don't like me so I'll share; Cliffy, shut the hell up,quit wearing the pimp clothes and put your damn game out already. When it makes millions and wins a few awards THEN you can act like a rockstar!

And for everybody that gives Jaffe crap...his game has made big ching AND won a few awards to boot.

Screw the soft and give 'em hell Dave!

Dutch
www.thedigitalblast.com

Grayman said...

Hey Dave,

I can relate with what you are saying about everything you say being taken so seriously. Not being a public figure at all but just posting on forums I sometimes take a lot of shit for just posting what I think at the time like casual conversation.

Once it happens it can snowball with the same people and each time you open your mouth with anything remotely controversial it's going to be met with hostility.

Keep your head up and if holding your tongue in public makes you happier go for it.

creativegene said...

Hey Dave,

One smart wife you got there ;)

Keep in mind that regardless of who's ready to jump all over you, you've got some good fans out there too. As they say, "Opinions are like Asses...everyone's got one."

Keep on bloggin'.

Jeremy said...

David, sleeping next to a smart cookie solves a lot of life's problems, doesn't it?

I have to admit, the Live Arcade comment really rubbed me the wrong way. I think you're a very cool guy, and I always enjoy catching an interview with you, be it on G4, online video, or print, because you do speak your mind. You're a visionary, and an interesting personality. Normally when you speak out on something, I admire the balls of steal.

This comment seemed out of character for you. Maybe I'm sensitive because I'm having a good time with XBLA, and it was like you were saying "if you're digging this stuff, you're either an idiot or delusional". I expect Sony guys to rag on Xbox, and vice versa, but it seemed like a very bold, and somewhat ignorant stance.

But you've hit the nail on the head: it's context. Had a friend or even a games writer said the same thing, I'd just take it for what it was: talk. But as a representative and a professional, I think we expect a more calculated comment. Like you said, no bullshit, but not completely off-the-cuff either. So rather than blast everything on Live Arcade as being an "oldie" (especially while simultaneously comparing yourself to the Beatles, completely muddling an otherwise decent analogy), simply saying "Microsoft isn't releasing enough original content, and we plan on killing them in this area." You're saying basically the same thing, and you'll still be pissing off die-hards, but it doesn't sound as inflammatory.

Regardless, glad to see you back to regular blogging. Good luck to you, sir.

Anonymous said...

First time long time - David you are a good man.

Anonymous said...

David,

I think you need to grow up. Your constant foul language, and your excuse of "this is the way I am", or "I'm being honest", are all things that a young person would say. You think that being vulgar is being honest, but you come across as arrogant, that you don't care if you offend anyone, and that is your biggest problem.

Your second biggest problem is that you tend to whine about things, and people generally don't like whiners.

I'm sure you won't listen to any of this advice, and will probably defend yourself some more. Oh well, it's your life.

You certainly remind me of myself when I was younger.

Gordon

David Tractenberg said...

David-

Like it or not your private and public image matter to those in the industry. Most people have a publicist to help out. Don't think of them as someone who keeps the public away, just think of them as people who help you put your best foot forward. You should try www.tractionpr.com, we can help you out. -Dave

da criminal said...

To Gordon:

I actually do appreciate your comments. The vulgar part is just how I was raised; we cussed alot and it's a natural way of expressing myself.

The whining part,I suppose so.I mean, yes, there is somevalidity to the idea of just doing something about something and not bitching about it. I respect that alot,truth be told.

But it's a fine line for me because I really look at the blog as a diary of sorts, a snapshot of where I am in my head in regards to the job I have...and so I tend to just spew and express the stuff in my head. And sometimes there are things that bug me about the industry, so I talk about them here.

I mean, the alternative is what? To just keep a stiff upper lip and say: all is always great?

I am not suggesting your are proposing that much of a black and white extreme but I do wonder what your thoughts are on the subject.

Thanks everyone for the feedback, by the way. I appreciate it!

David

Anonymous said...

Gordon, you are so full of shit. You only act "grown up" so you can look down at others. I don't need to guess that your favourite past-time is patronising the poor grammar on chalkboard Cafe menus.

I also don't care if I offend anyone, and do you know why? I expect people to be grown up enough that they can accept me to think, speak and act as I will.

As much as I hate to go down to such a level, you're being a conformist dickhead. Which is something even a young person understands is dumb.

Gordon said...

David,

You're talking to one of the biggest whiners of all time. I used to complain about everything, and one thing I noticed, people did not like hanging around with me. Complaining was just a bad habit. Nothing wrong with pointing out what is wrong with the industry, but just got to limit it to the small minority of what you say.

Does it mean you have to be cheerful and happy all the time, just to please others, I'm not saying that. You just have to give more thought to what you say. No question, being positive is generally better received than complaining. You have to ask yourself, is it practical to complain at that point, and are you offering solutions. Talking about the solutions is a better approach than complaining.

Look at Ted Price, and see what he says. He speaks on a regular bases, and you don't see any real hate directed his way. He speaks about the positives and does not complain, but no one saying he is not being honest or being overly political. He just comes across as nice guy who is enthusiastic about his company and game.

I also strongly recommend you try *NOT* to defend yourself against the internet. You can never win, and the world is full of idiots that will twist and use whatever you say against you. Just ignore it, and give more thought to the next time you share things. Leave out all the vulgar talk to, as that will always work against you. People who talk with lots of vulgarity are generally not respected.

Give it a try, it can't hurt.

Gordon

Anonymous said...

David, here are some other designers who get trashed when they talk publicly about what's on their mind: Will Wright, Warren Spector, Peter Molyneaux, Hideo Kojima.

I haven't really noticed that what you blog about are complaints, I think people interpret it that way, and the Joystiq entry you linked is a perfect example of how you're inexplicably misunderstood. Or these people also think being anti-Iraq-War is whinging.

Being vulgar is being expressive, to put a lid on it to stop some arseholes hating on you kind of sucks. You don't litter your blogs with Fucks and Shits, you put them in when it's what you really want to say, and it gives us a much better understanding of where you're at. I like being able to delinate between when you're displeased and when you're really angry. I like the stream of consciousness style of your blogs.

I really don't think censoring yourself is the answer, but I'm afraid I don't know what is. Do you really want the respect of people who will only respect you if you act according to their codes of conduct?

Anonymous said...

> "David, here are some other designers who get trashed when they talk publicly about what's on their mind: Will Wright, Warren Spector, Peter Molyneaux, Hideo Kojima."

And all people who have problems largely related to how they behave or based on what have done.

Shigeru Miyamoto, and Yuji Naka, are outspoken game designers and come across as respective and humble when they speak, and are generally well liked. They certainly don't come across as whiners, or arrogant.

> "I really don't think censoring yourself is the answer, but I'm afraid I don't know what is."

That right David, say what you want, whenever you want. After all, your the big God of War designer, and you can say what you want, and who cares who you offend, or how come across. Your expletives, whining, and arrogance is why are hated. You just have to accept it. It's your life.

Gordon

Anonymous said...

David, you are more connected with gamers than most game designers and for that I applaud you. Sure, I loved your game to death because it was a breath of fresh air in a stale, monotone gaming world. Your game was arrogant, bloody and messy but fuck I loved it. Much like I enjoy reading your stuff. GoW came crashing through everything else and made an incredible statement. You know what makes an epic/classic game.
You have a voice, you listen to your fans and you interact in a much more personal way than of the big guns of gaming such as Mr. Miyamoto, Mr Suzuki, Mr Naka etc. In my opinion, you come out as a true individual, a real person and to me that counts more than anything else. Your wife's statements are true, absolutely. You have become someone important, people look up to you and listen attentively. How should you deal with this and remain yourself? I say, remain yourself, I say do what you can but don't censor yourself. I can't possibly comprehend how some simply don't get the fact that you're a gamer, like us, who could simply sit in his "important" chair and make his games and not give a fuck about what people are saying. You care, you're here, you wrote about it all and your opinions are YOUR opinions. What are people to expect of you? You swear, you're flawed big deal! You'll have people who hate you for certain things but remember you'll always have fans, like me, who appreciate every single word you write and the fact that you give a damn.

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