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All tempa-Cheer, now with BRAND AWARENESS!

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Way back when in the early days of microcomputers, there was the computer convention. Often given whimsical names and devoted to a single platform (Apple, TRS-80, etc), these computer fests were the grass roots. Little garage software and peripheral companies abounded, selling all kinds of programs and doodads to improve your new (and at the time not all that useful) home computer. You could just ping-pong from table to table checking out new offerings. If you saw something cool, you could whip out your checkbook and it's yours. It was a combination convention, geek meet-n-greet, and swap meet. Ahh the days.

Fast forward to today. While there are still some small players, often revolving around the same anemic home computers of 1981, computer conventions have grown quite a bit. At least in the heady heyday of the now-deceased Comdex, they could out-glitz Las Vegas (which is not an easy thing to do).

But something is gone.

It's the tables with stuff! The days of Big Bob Software selling stacks of BobWord 1.0 for the TRS-80 are gone. He's been replaced with multi-hundred-thousand dollar booths from Sony and Intel selling. . .NOTHING! If I walk into the Intel booth and tell 'em that I've heard about their company and that I'm interested in developing software for their new CISC microprocessor (remember when they were called that?) the best I'll get is a colorful brochure, a keychain, and a promise to contact me (which they never do).

What's the freakin' point? Honestly, if I was a developer interested in developing for an Intel processor, I could order everything I need from their website or their 800-number. Apart from a five-minute demo of their latest profiler suite (probably downloadable as a QuickTime file on their website), there's exactly zilch that their expensive booth has to offer.

If I walked up to the 3D Studio Max booth, watched the demo, and then said "that looks like a great product, I'll take it!", they'd give me a look like a german shepherd trying to understand calculus. After all, they don't actually want you to buy 3D Studio Max, they just want you to become aware of it, then take a colorful brochure and walk away.

And that's just pointless.

Other kinds of conventions haven't caught this bug. Imagine if you went to a comic book convention, and you went to the booth for Big Bob's comics. After shaking hands with Big Bob, you ask him what he's selling. He then goes into a pitch for his new comic, "Lightning Man". He describes the superhero's origins and adventures, punctuated with slides showing really nice superhero art. You then say "sounds like a good read, gimme one", and Big Bob says "No, we're not actually selling Lightning Man comics. We just want you to be aware of the Lightning Man brand".

Having gone to both conventions, I can confirm that the learning-calculus gaze would then be happening on the other side of the velcro-draped table.

I just don't get it anymore. While it's certainly fun to see the colored lights and collect free rubber toys from booths, the whole experience has just melted together into one big dull continuum of people selling you the fact that they're selling something. I wanna see a real game development expo. One where I see a booth for Big Bob's 3D Engine, I talk to Bob a bit about his engine, I'm impressed with it, I pay him $x.xx for it, and he hands me a CD and a manual.

At least that's something. As opposed to brand awareness, which is nothing.

And since I have nothing more to say, here's a picture of a rabbit with a pancake. . .I mean Murray the killer armadillo trying to burrow under our fence. Mel decided that Murray doesn't really fight back, so he's gotten more bold about chasing him around the yard. And, since I cut off the biggest escape route from the back yard (the drainage ditch outlet) to keep puppies from escaping, Murray has to find his own way out.

What an odd brain a creature must have to have its fight-or-flight reflex tell him "I am threatened, I must DIG!"
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I've not been to one of the big trade shows yet, but I've heard (and been invited by a few companies) to "meet-n-great" and talk business with them. Aren't there also a lot of "closed doors" demo's for prospective buyers and journalists as well?

One publisher we approached asked if our team would be at the GDC ('03 I think) and if so, would we like to give them a demo and sit down and chat about things...

Maybe that's the way they want it to go - more business talk, demo's and what have you than actual selling of products.

What an odd brain a creature must have to have its fight-or-flight reflex tell him "I am threatened, I must DIG!"

What you've neglected to consider is that it actually has a secret stash of weapons buried under your fence...


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Most of the trade shows these days are for the press, including the GDC. You should see some of the fluff pieces mainstream gaming publications like EGM give to the GDC; they are mostly photo spreads of the different booths with some nice treatment of the booth babes. They certainly don't do anything like attend the seminars, which I would dearly love to do, or interview any developers (independent or otherwise), but they get to go to all the parties, suck up all the free stuff and monopolize the play stations at the various booths.

It irritates me somewhat that these pinheads are sucking up valuable floor space when I can't get to the GDC, even though I desperately want to attend the seminars and meet other indies.

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What an odd brain a creature must have to have its fight-or-flight reflex tell him "I am threatened, I must DIG!"

Or I see bright car lights...Jump!

That's why armadillos don't play video games...they suck at jump puzzles.

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I know I'm from the south (US), but I don't think I would find those tasty (the armadillos, not conventions).

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I know I'm from the south (US), but I don't think I would find those tasty (the armadillos, not conventions).

Well if you do get over your phobia of trying new things to eat make certain that you cook it well. Armadillos are the only creatures other than humans to carry leprosy in significant amounts (est. 5% of the Armadillo population). Leprosy bacteria like the lower body temp of the Armadillo.

BTW if you decide to eat humans cook them well too. They carry all sorts of nasty bugs. Also stay away from human giblets. They are nasty. Not that I that I have first hand knowledge. I've just heard from those who might know.

/me quickly glances at John and looks away...

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Having lived in the South for over 30 years now, I've never seen armadillo or possum prepared for human consumption, although I'd always heard tales (especially in the 70's) of possum being a delicacy in my childhood home of Arkansas.

Shelly had raccoon meat once. One of her hillbilly coworkers at a previous job brought over some home-smoked raccoon for everyone to snack on. She reports that it was the oiliest gamy-ist stuff she'd ever tasted.

OTOH, my uncle up in Michigan smoked some-such freshly-caught Lake Michigan fish, and it was the finest piece of sushi I'd ever had. In Michigan, go figure.

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