Solid Snake

Hideo Kojima On Life

Joystiq has a great recap of a presentation Hideo Kojima (he of Metal Gear Solid fame) made at the University of Southern California last week. I like it for 3 reasons:

1.) Kojima says his philosophy towards creating games is that he must do everything, from script development to the game play, and says that this is "true game design." I've always considered the man one of the only auteurs of the video game industry, and it is great to see him acknolowedging the same here.

2.) The fact that he uses Lego pieces to design the different levels in his games

3.) His comments on the differences between game design in the East and the West:

" Japan, players are often placed in a room with one door at the beginning of a game, which opens up into a room with two doors, and so on. The game has to open up gradually, piece by piece. But in the West, gamers can be placed in a jungle early on, and they often value, said Kojima, that freedom, enjoying the exploration offered to them."

Read the whole article here. 

Toronto's Mesh Conference: 3 Highlights

The annual Mesh Conference in Toronto is always a big highlight of the year for me (despite the fact that I missed it last year). It's one of the places where, after moving to Toronto, I first realized that there were other people interested in this social media stuff and that the web had more potential than I even thought. How Adult Entertainment is Shaping The Web

Also often referred to as "The Porn Session," this panel discussion with Allison Vivas, Peter Nowak and Patchen Barrs was probably one of the best of the conference. While it didn't exactly get into the details of how adult entertainment was shaping the web, the panelists did talk about how the adult industry was either sinking or swimming as the web becomes the dominate communications platform. As these companies are early adopters and on the fringes, any big technology changes impact them. I won't go into the part of the conversation that was about the potentially booming industry of teledildonics and sex robots.

I will say that the whole thing got also got me super stoked to be working in advertising, as it reminded me of how much traditional media organizations are struggling to come up with ways to monetize their content.

Advertisers are uniquely positioned to create amazing content for free on behalf of our clients. We want people to share it is, pass it along. To us, consumer copying truly is the sincerest form of flattery, not representative of lost revenue.

For your reference, I've included the notes that my friend Brad Buset took during this presentation:

Brad Buset Mesh

Lessons on Gamification: Myths & Misunderstandings Dispelled

I want to preface anything I say about this presentation with the fact that I think the presenter, Brian Wong, is an incredibly smart guy who was a fantastic speaker and that I'm hoping I can catch up with him sometime in the future to hear more about his company, Kiip. Brian clearly understands the concepts of gamification, and has worked them nicely into Kiip. However, his whole presentation got me thinking:

In general, the problem I have with most people talking about 'gamification' is that they only reference other types of gamification, rather than actual games. I see this as a huge miss on the part of the web/app/social media industry. The further away we get from the types of games that spawned this trend, the worse off everyone is going to be. I mean, if the next generation of 'gamified' apps or marketing ideas are just copies of the current crop, where will we be?

Seriously - when was the last time you saw someone speak/write about gamification who you felt actually played some serious games? Modern Warfare is one of the best selling entertainment franchises EVER, and it did so because it is a game that took it self seriously. Let's start talking a look at how games like this treats rewards and badges and, this part is important, the ACTUAL GAME, not how other examples of gamification also use game-like aspects.

Digital Ethnography

I won't go into a ton of detail about this session except to say that BlogCampaign's own Heather Morrison and her colleagues did a fantastic job presenting some of the methodology their agency, Sequentia-Environics, does when researching online communities. She'll be following up with another post soon about this, as well as with some of the results from an in-depth research piece she worked on that was released the same day as her presentation.

Were you at Mesh this year? What were some of the highlights for you?



Have you been wondering why Heather Morrison hasn't been blogging here lately? Its because she started a new blog, Fitnesse! It is all about fitness, nutrition and wellness.

She's only just started, and already she has a great few posts, ranging from making the perfect herbal tea for a winter day to the exciting sport of indoor cycling!

Hopefully, she'll post a weekly wrap-up from Fitnesse here on BlogCampaigning (seriously - we're starving for content here!). In the meantime, head over to

When is the best time to post a Facebook Page status?

I’ve often wondered when the best time of day to post an official Facebook Page update was. To find out, I analyzed some of the top Canadian Facebook Pages and the posts they made during the month of November.

What did I do?

I took a look at official Facebook Pages for iTunes Canada, Starbucks Canada, Gatorade Canada, Smirnoff Canada, Bauer Hockey, Nike Training, Reebok Hockey, Best Buy and Doritos. This was a not-quite-random sample of some of the top Canadian Facebook Pages, as per this list published by Social Bakers.

I looked at every official update posted by the page during the month of November, and wrote down what time (Eastern Time) the post was made and how many Likes and Comments the post received. I then took an average of these responses per hour, and created the fun little graph below.

What didn’t I do?

I didn’t analyze the sentiment of the responses, nor did I compare the different types of posts made by the pages (photo, video, external link, etc). I also didn’t look at comments made by users on the wall and not as a response to an official update from the Page.

This study also didn’t take into account any other strategies these pages might have had. If the page was encouraging their users to upload photos, or engage with an application or contest in a separate tab, I didn’t measure that.

What did I find?

It appears that the best time to post a status update from an official page is either early in the work day (9-10am) or in the early evening. Though I don’t have any data on when people are checking Facebook the most, I suspect that they are checking when they wake up or get into work in the morning, and again when are leaving for the day or arriving home. While they might check during other times, these might be the best times for users to interact with their favourite brands.

However, the outlier post at 7:58am one day received 180 responses, far more than that brand’s average. It made me think that perhaps earlier posts like this have a way of breaking through the cluttered Facebook newsfeed.

At the end of the day, you should know your audience and what will resonate best with them. This includes both the types of posts (should they include photos or video? Should they be questions, or encourage action?) and the time of day to post them.

Analyzing and thinking about this data was time well spent, as I’m confident that looking so closely at what all these pages are doing, what has been working for them and what hasn’t been working will provide me with some insight into what I can do for my own clients. ( I’m also confident that this would have been way easier to do with a desk and dual monitors instead of small laptop screen and a notebook on a folding seat-back tray during a cross-country flight.)

Note: I’m not a trained statistician. There are probably all sorts of “standard deviation” and “relevant sample” size things I’m not taking into account here. If you’ve got a better way analyze or present this data I’m not stopping (you). -I purposely did not look at any Facebook pages that I am currently or have previously worked on. -As in the “What I didn’t do” section above, there are lots of factors I didn’t look at. These might have resulted in different conclusions.

What could I have done differently or better with this study? What do you think of the results?

I’ve certainly got some ideas for how this type research could be improved. If you’ve got some spare time on your hands (ahem, students going into break?) and want to help BlogCampaigning, shoot me an email: parker (at)


PS: Next up: an analysis of Facebook pages managed by PR agencies compared to those managed by ad agencies?

Should I buy a PlayStation 3 or an Elite X-Box 360?

Last Christmas, my roommate Claudio's brother gave him an X-Box 360. I subsequently spent most of January and April playing Halo 3 online. (I was away for most of February and March.) While we bought a few other games, they were pretty much shelved permanently, and I never even tried the campaign mode of Halo. Multi-player was our entertainment ticket for those snowy nights. It is also probably the reason why there were so few posts from me on BlogCampaigning then.

Just in time for summer weather, Claudio moved out and took the X-Box with him. I've spent a good few months enjoying the fresh Toronto air.  When I go to sleep these days I dream of soccer, not Master Chief.

But now the combination of a crispness in the air and price drops from both Sony and Microsoft for their respective consoles has me thinking that I should once again work on my gaming skills.

The question: Which system should I buy?

Readers of this blog and friends of mine will know that I am a huge fan of the Metal Gear Solid series of games, and that Jens and I can spend hours talking about the creator of those games, Hideo Kojima. He is to video games and cyberpunk what Hitchcock was to film.

Metal Gear Solid 2 for PlayStation 2 was definitely one of my favorite games of all time. Not only is the gameplay amazing, but the actual story line is worthy of a movie itself.

Metal Gear Solid 4 for PlayStation 3 has received rave reviews. Gamespot gave it 10/10 and described it as "an awe-inspiring synthesis of dramatic story telling and entertaining gameplay."  IGN also gave it a 10/10 with similarly glowing comments.

Unfortunately, it's an exclusive title for PS3.

Similarly, the Halo series are also exclusive for Microsoft's X-Box. As I mentioned above, I love Halo 3—the multi-player mode in that game is almost perfect, and from what I've heard, Microsoft essentially changed the face of game-testing when it was first developed. And Halo ODST also looks amazing.

The Microsoft X-Box Elite Bundle (which includes a copy of Halo 3 and a Gold Membership to Microsoft Live for online playing) is currently selling on for $329.

The PlayStation 3 is selling for $299, but doesn't include Metal Gear Solid 4. But that's only another $29.99.

So, dear gamers: Which one should I chose? Is Metal Gear Solid 4 that good? Is the online play good?


The Magazine Biz

Magazines and newspapers are cutting staff. Ebook readers grow in popularity and functionality. Environmental concerns begin to outweigh the need to print out such disposable items like magazines and newspapers. There isn't really much of a future for the print industry, is there?

Actually, I think there is. And while I think that the discussion about what newspapers will evolve into is certainly worth having (I personally think that they will come to resemble blogs more and more just as the top blogs will come to resemble newspaper website, blurring the line), I'm not going to get into it now.

Instead I'm going to talk about magazines.

I love reading magazines and I buy them all the time. My preferred publications are normally surfing magazines, but I also buy RADAR if it looks like an interesting issue. Since my roommate subscribes to Toronto Life, I'll often read that (along with Fashion, the magazine that accompanies it). When the mood strikes us, we'll also sometimes pick up Vanity Fair. I've even seen a few copies of GQ lying around my other roommate's room but he doesn't seem to read them when I'm around.

The point is that there is still a market for these. People like the tangible feel of a magazine. "I love magazines," writes Alana Taylor, lamenting the discontinuation of one of her favorite magazines. "I still would like to write for one and I still enjoy buying & reading them and I still love ripping out pictures to create collages on my bedroom wall."

I've heard people remark before that the reason newspapers have failed to adapt to the internet era is similiar to the way the horse and buggy industry failed to adapt to the era of the motorcar and steam train. Rather than seeing themselves in the transportation business, the horse and buggy industry saw themselves as being what was an increasingly unfashionable horse and buggy business. Similarly, newspapers saw themselves as being in the newsaper business (rooted in paper publications), rather than in the news gathering and distribution business.

I think it is interesting that a few people have used similiarly equine analogies to describe the magazine industry. Former Conde Nast editor James Truman likens magazines to horses in that they used to be something that everyone could afford and that were enjoyed and used by the masses and are now increasingly becoming a luxury item. Along the same lines,  Howard Junker, editor of ZYZZYVA apparently compared magazines to ponies in that they don't serve any real purpose but people keep them around because they like to look at them.

Truman thinks that the direction the magazine industry will take is to offer even more luxurious, glossy and otherwise tactile objects of luxury such as those created by fashion icons like Karl Lagerfeld ("a ninja" as Truman refers to him). As a firm believer in the idea that science-fiction often provides a prescient glimpse as to what our future might hold, I think it is worthwhile taking a look at the book Grey by Jon Armstrong. In it, the main character continues to buy magazines despite the fact that he lives in a futuristic, connected world extrapolated a few years down the road from our own.

This model doesn't apply only to fashion magazines - I recently bought a $15 magazine about Metal Gear Solid 4 because it offered such great art and compelling articles. When I lived in Australia, I used to buy a magazine called Monster Children. This skate and surf mag was printed in a unique format (length-wise, so that the spine was on the shorter side) on high-quality paper and always had amazing photos and graphic design. In fact, their team must have had high standards when it came to accepting advertisements because all of them were also beautiful from an art perspective.

The magazines' websites then become promotional material for the actual publications. Pages and pages of advertising might become a thing of the past as companies either create their own publications or work more directly with the writers and editors to see their product or service featured, perhaps going as far as to sponsor certain sections. I'd see no problem with this, as magazines have always been a vehicle for delivering advertisements.

Do you still read magazines? Which direction do you think the industry will go in?

-Parker Mason

Solid Snake Teams Up With Verizon

This would definitely make me sing up with Verizon Wireless if they had it in Canada. Apparently, the mobile provider is offering a version of Metal Gear Solid on their new handsets. Its been created by the same team that did the original, and has a story line that takes place between the first and second games.

I don't know if its been endorsed by Hideo Kojima (BlogCampaigning's favourite video game auteur), but it could still be pretty hot. Some of the screen shots show that it is fairly similiar to the earlier games, and that's good news for fans.

It will also certainly add value to Verizon's offerings. With the game industry soaring I'll be there are plenty of Solid Snake fans that would make the switch for something like this.