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Mind Your Own Manners

The internet – bless its heart – connects us in ways that are impossible (and, truth be told, unwanted) in offline culture. People have almost unlimited access to their friends, family, colleagues, competitors, consumers and superiors. We encounter new concepts, stories and opinions we wouldn’t otherwise. We learn things, collaborate, progress and communicate like previous generations could never have imagined in their wildest dreams… or nightmares, as often the case may be.

Online anonymity has built an internet culture of assholes. Even YouTube is considering requiring users to use their real names. If you’ve browsed the comment section of YouTube videos lately, you can understand why this is a prime example of anon assolism, and why a change to YouTube TOS would signify a serious shift web-wide. Guy Adams was recently suspended (and promptly reinstated) by Twitter for speaking negatively about NBC’s coverage of the Olympics. Reinstated rightfully so, in my humblest opinion.

The Internet has us more connected than the off-line world ever could. But for all the benefit of keeping in touch, being and communicating online also disconnects us in new ways.

When you’re talking to someone in person, you can look at them and get clues on things like whether they understand what you’re saying, whether they’re interested, whether they agree, whether they have questions… Conversational context clues are an inherent part of how humans communicate with each other.

More than that, the Internet allows us to connect and communicate with people we wouldn’t otherwise have reason or capability to meet, much less talk to off-line.

Hello double edged sword.

You can look up articles all day long about stranger danger on the Internet. That’s not what this is about. This is about human nature, being nice to each other, and not acting like huge assholes.

Even with close friends and family, there are a lot of times you don’t know what another person has been through, is dealing with, or is thinking about. Life is rough. You have to expect that people you meet are all fighting their own battles. I’m not trying to be fourth-grade guidance counselor about this, but seriously. Everyone’s situation is different. All the things that led up to the conversation that you’re having with someone, those are the things that make us different and make us individuals. Those are also the things that make us likely to be offended by something someone says, especially ones said without considering the audience, specifically on the Internet.

Every election, we see swarms of ignorance, fueled faster and more fiery as new platforms emerge and technology accelerates the back and forth. Whatever your politics or affiliations, everyone else is wrong.

How democratic.

So the current climate is ripe for debate, and we the people can take to our channels of choice to state our side for all to read and comment upon. Personally, I think, for democracy’s sake, this is supremely powerful shit.

In 10th grade, I refused to dissect a frog in Biology class. I later went pre-med and dug through all sorts of dead animals in college (worth noting). In highschool, however, my reason for opting out (and taking a decisive GPA hit, no less), was not of moral dilemma for the frog. Research is the heart of science and I’m no PETA. When something of value can be learned and applied to better the world, go for it. I refused to take part because, in highschool, students are required BY LAW to be there. They don’t choose to. They don’t, for the most part, care. Most highschool students forget half of what they’ve learned by college. People bounce frog eyeballs. Boys try to flirt over frog guts. It’s despicable, really. A bunch of kids cutting up creatures because someone decided that was enriching curriculum. I didn’t buy it and I still don’t.

Uninformed, uneducated voting is no better. Worse, actually, because it affects an entire country of people, not just one unfortunate frog.

The internet better equips us to make informed decisions, to help others understand our point of view, and theoretically, change minds, (should you be so persuasive).

Debate is a good thing. It brings the most important issues to the forefront, and makes both sides think thoroughly through their argument. Theoretically… Ideally… Debate can solve problems and resolve things.

But if the upcoming election isn’t enough to stir the social media pot in your network, you’ll be hardpressed not to notice some other current events. Ahem, Chick-Fil-A, ahem Aurora, etc.

Unfortunately, the Internet also makes it even easier to ignore the facts and avoid listening to opposing views. People are often so fired up by the time they post an opinion that God himself couldn’t change their minds (or convince them to read through the entire comment thread before chiming in). They say things to be funny. But sarcasm doesn’t alway work properly online. It’s easy to be brave when you’re facing a PC monitor or cell phone screen, and it’s easy to forget all the real faces reading your rant. It’s easy to think you’ve got the only right answer when no one is standing by to counter your point.

But before you put on your big boy pants and start berating people for things you know little about, think, would I do this in real life? No; the answer is usually no. I’m not saying don’t stand up for your beliefs. Shit, do that! Don’t stop doing that! Just be a little more thoughtful, a little more respectful, and a little more nice. Take it from a southern girl, charm gets you everywhere.

 

 

eBook at Me Now

Why have I been so quiet lately?

Well first there was this blush-worthy writing project for Kotaku: http://kotaku.com/5920598/and-now-for-a-positive-take-on-women-in-gaming

Then I… well, I became a part of a super badass startup. I’m writing again, but on a different blog. I’m not abandoning Lollarville – in fact I have a post 3/4 of the way written, but it’s fair to say I have more important things on my plate for now.

So read this: http://twistframe.com/blog/2012/8/4/you-cant-do-it-alone

and this: http://twistframe.com/blog/2012/8/5/chapter-one

and more about Twistframe: http://twistframe.com/who-we-are/

And by the time you’re done with all that, Lollarville should be updated once more. Deal? Woot.

Turn the Page Already

We’re all swimming up to our ears in technology these days. Fine by me. But it’s almost ironic that I still spend such a chunk of each day (the best chunks, I daresay) writing with pen and paper. And oh hey hey — today is special (any writer will understand), because I’m coming at you live from this, a new notebook. It’s not fancy. We’re talking a 180-sheet, college-ruled spiral notebook, on sale for $1.49… A back to school steal, my good sirs.

There’s some science out there, if you care to find it, about how you’re more apt to remember things written with blue ink, and how yellow paper makes you more inspired creatively. Meh. I think it’s more about the person using it that matters. For me, handwriting has been a crucial factor in brain function since I can remember. And since I can’t fathom my brain needing to “function” pre-memory-span, let’s just call it “always”.

Thank God I realized it’s power early on, because in school, for me, studying (and learning, period) required me to write everything down. And rewrite it. My brain just worked better that way. It didn’t matter if it was efficient or not. And the same is true now, except I’m not studying things other people wrote or want me to know, I’m writing my own. I type fast, so that’s not the problem.

There is an inherent disconnect with my thought process when technology is introduced.

My point here has nothing to do with reviving pen and paper among the masses. For one thing, if everyone used as much paper as I do, we’d have a serious tree shortage on our hands. Aside from that, I don’t expect everyone to need handwriting the way I do, nor do I care if others operate like me, if we get right down to it…

People learn, create, work and communicate differently. Whoop tee do. In fact, as aforementioned, I’m not under false impression that having to transcribe a handwritten mess is ever efficient — for me or anyone else.

Actually that’s the point, in essence.

I fill pages every day. I have a stack 3-feet tall of notebooks, some bursting with bright ideas and others with words worth sharing. Unfortunately, almost none of that ever sees the light of day. Either I move on to another topic or project, I forget how great a piece of writing was, I’m too lazy, or I overthink something until I end up neglecting to type, post or share it at all.

What a damn shame. Seriously.

So for the first page in my newest notebook, I’m making a conscious effort to share. I’m not hanging up my pen and paper, now or ever, but I’m going to try harder to quit writing into a vacuum.

This post may not break any grounds, provoke any laughter or touch any hearts, but it’s coming at you unpuffed (and unedited, frankly) to make a humble, personal point. Now that their pipeline is a standstill no more, I’ve got mo’ better words to free soon.

10 Social Media Tips for the Win

The difference between publishing, public relations, marketing, media, design and user acquisition is more blurry than ever. The number one takeaway: if you don’t like bringing a little of yourself into your work life, you’re going to struggle. If you like to pour your heart into your work, this is your time to take the reigns and run with them.

I’ve been on Facebook since it opened to the University of Mississippi my junior year of college. You might – if you work in the online games industry – even call me a social media “whale”. I actually enjoy tweeting, which should probably be a requirement for social media managers, but is less common than you’d think.

Nowadays, I share my life’s adventures across the multimedia gamut – Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest… Someone could follow me on one network and understand my posts, but I try to spread the wealth. I like posting bits and pieces across the various networks, letting my friends, fans and followers put the puzzle together for themselves. I’d like to think they see it that way too.

None of this had anything to do with my career, until fairly recently, when PR and social media collided forever and always. Now I realize my approach to personal social networking is a valuable asset for companies.

So in no particular order, a few suggestions:

1. Have company accounts but don’t neglect personal ones.

2. Don’t tweet everything that pops in your head.

3. Turn off those obnoxious auto-tweets from 3rd party services like XBLA and Pinterest. Instead…

4. Spread the wealth. Why would someone follow/be-fan you on multiple networks if you pull them all together into one auto-fed pile? Yuck.

5.  Don’t call people out – especially not publicly – for un-following you. This should go without saying but apparently does not. There is obviously a reason and it probably has something to do with you. Look at your feed. See number 3.

6. Promote your social networks on your website. Not just the company ones. Your talent (that means staff, if you hired wisely ;) is just as important as your mission or corporate posts. Ahem: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn

7. Don’t try and appear perfect. You aren’t. If you are, people won’t like you anyway, so just pretend to be less so. I don’t mean grammar; I mean your trials and tribulations. Those make you human, and interesting.

8. Share your experiences – good, bad, ugly, whatever! See number 2, but also number 7, and know that the dumb things you try are more interesting to your friends and fans than most of the smart ones. Success speaks for itself. Failure needs help. This tip comes particularly from the heart. Some of my most “influential” followers have attributed it to my wild and crazy tales. They follow me because I say things other people would be afraid to, on occasion.

9.  Share information that is valuable to your audience. That is usually why they followed you in the first place.

10. Do it. You can’t go back in time and make up for not tweeting or using Facebook. If you aren’t “doing” social media you should stop reading and go sign up for accounts. It may not be your only key to success, but bet your ass it’s one of them.

Travel with Waffle

I’ve been told forget my old job and move on – make a clean cut, as they say. But I just did that with marriage and it’s not getting easier to forget things as life moves on. Not even close.

So here I am packing, trying to start anew, again. But half my stuff still smells like my ex husband, reminds me of my former job, or some combination thereof. Shall I play along, not remember any of it? Yikes.

I’ve been told my smile is infectious, mostly by people who make me smile. I’ve been told I’m good at hiding stress, mostly by people who help relieve it. I’ve been told so many things; I hardly know when to listen anymore.

When I want something, I attack it with a ferocity that slackers cannot understand.

I want very much to move forward. I don’t want to forget the past. I don’t consider failures to be mistakes. I don’t consider different to be wrong.

Someone dear once told me – “You don’t have to do it the way everyone else does. Do what works for you.”

I listened.

If the only kitchenware I feel like keeping is a greasy waffle iron, so be it!

From E3 to BEA: Interactive Entertainment Growth

Optimism and determination are contagious. Don’t discount them.

The amount of support from gaming industry friends at E3 this week has been exhilarating. The amount of passion some of them have for the projects they are working on — exhilarating all the more so.

Perhaps that’s what I’ve been seeking all along. A creative arena where I, too, get to be creative. One where my ideas are as valuable as anyone else’s to be implemented. Creative people – the best, smartest ones – can be the community you always wanted. Or, you can keep your mouth shut and stay in a community that’s more prone to shoot down ideas than implement them. I prefer the creative community option.

Wait, what?

David Pollay wrote a book called “The Law of the Garbage Truck” that explains my point better than I can. You should read it. I’m going to pull 2 random pieces from the whole to make a point. Not Pollay’s point; mine.

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Each chapter has an action guide (a personal self-help pet peeve, but I digress). In this case, I wrote something while reading this a couple years back that resonates more loudly than ever. The question? “What do you value enough that you won’t let Garbage Trucks get in the way of achieving your dreams?” My answer?

“I value creativity, imagination, technology and entertainment – in my professional and personal life. At work, I won’t let negative people stop me from doing a good job. Personally, I won’t let Garbage Trucks deter me from pursuing a career in arenas that are interesting and important to me.”

It’s due time to put my plan in action. Does anyone else hear a little LEGO language in my answer? Hey if imagination is the key to success, I’m on board with that.

The point, in relation to gaming versus books, or E3 versus BEA, is this: E3 hasn’t changed since I started going 5 years ago. I have. Furthermore…

If the book industry is half as collaborative and positive as some of the creative communities in the gaming industry, we’re going to get along just fine. Next year I’m ditching E3 and hitting BEA. By that time, I expect fully to be semi-pro. Is that a thing?

 

Ditching Distractions: How to be Marketable

Pro PR tips are always common sense once you’ve heard them.

Try this on for size: If your pitch is newsworthy, it will write itself. If you are just sending an announcement to reporters to try and drum up news or sales during product development downtime, you’ll find yourself stretching for a “hook”, and you won’t fool anyone.

It’s not cynical, jaded or bitter – it’s true. The biggest news, best promotions, important business moves, and most unique pitches/campaigns are the easiest and most fulfilling to pull off,  and they gnerate the best, most impactful results. In other words, BE news to make news.

Duh.

Sure it’s easy during major launches or big conferences (ahem, E3), but you have to keep it up in the “off-season” too. Don’t try to fool people, try and do stuff that’s awesome enough to be word-of-mouth-worthy. Then make sure you spread the word-of-mouth.

Be on Twitter yesterday. Start a blog. You may already be doing super newsworthy or buzzworthy things, but if you don’t tell anyone about them, you’re doing yourself a disservice.

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