My Gift to Young America: 12 things you need to know!

I’ve worked in the gaming industry for 6 years now. I started out as a temp and then just stayed. It was fun and fascinating and full of new edgy ideas. You know what else it was full of, people that are way younger than me. Even when I started at 34 years old, I was only the 3rd oldest in the company. Our CEO was only 26 at that time. Yes 26! When I was 26, I was performing murder mystery dinner theatre in Orlando, Florida for $50 and a free meal. But that’s for another blog.

So, how do I cope? I don’t worry about it because to me “age is nothing but a thing.” It always has been. Next thing you know, the company is growing. We hired a lot of testers and an intern or 2. I quite suddenly and emotionally realized that I’m old enough now to be all their mothers, that is if MTV’s Teen Mom was a show in the 1980s. They’re nice to me and polite but not that talkative with me in person. However, what is amazing is that we can have 5 minute conversations on AIM but as soon as I physically walk by there is no eye contact. Over AIM I am supercool and someone you want to talk to, but something changes when they see me in the real world. I realized AIM is our WOW. This has slowly changed over the years though. I’m quirky and say silly things that I think are funny and they actually laugh at my jokes even if it’s in a “oh no, grandma did NOT say that!” kind of way. Our conversations aren’t strictly AIM anymore. I feel like part of the group and not a former teen mom.

Not too long ago, we got a new marketing intern. She was a very smart, beautiful girl with incredible ideas. She was, in short, awesome. When she came on board she was the new youngster, straight out of college. She had to sit by me as I desperately hung on to my last years in my 30’s. There were a few others around us in their early 30’s. Most of the other 20 years olds were on the other side of the office. So she listened to us reminisce about 70’s cartoons and 80’s music and pop culture etc. She would smile when we would say, “Ah, c’mon, what do you mean you never heard of parachute pants?! Everyone had parachute pants in the eighties!” Then she would say, “well I was only 2 years old at the time.” Then we would say, “Dear Lord we are sooooooo old!” So you get the picture. There was no animosity or jealousy, just a lot of fun. UNTIL THAT day. THAT day where this kid did the unforgivable. It’s still hard for me to talk about. Here’s what happened. William Shatner had been reading poetry on Conan O’Brien and we were all laughing about it. We asked her if she had seen Shatner on the show. She turns around and says, “Who’s Shatner?” I laugh “Oh, come on, William Shatner!” She just smiled and shrugged her shoulders. The room fell silent. I said strongly, “You know, Captain Kirk.” Once again, the smiling and the shrugging of the shoulders. I said, “STAR TREK!” Nothing.

This changed everything for me. I don’t care if you can’t remember what parachute pants are or what an Easy Bake Oven is or a Cabbage Patch Doll (you’re probably better off on that last one. It was an embarrassing time). But, as an AMERICAN, you must know Captain James T Kirk from the Starship Enterprise.

So, that leads me to this Public Service Announcement. I will now impart to young America, things you need to know as a true American, no matter what age you are. Age is not an excuse! I’m not talking about the Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, the Statue of Liberty or how to sing Yankee Doodle. I’m talking about things that make you a part of the American community, the fabric of this great country of ours – okay now I sound like I’m running for office in 2012. Just make sure you know this partial list:

  1. William Shatner played Captain James Tiberius Kirk on Star Trek. He is now one of, if not the greatest, pop culture icons in America.
  2. Star Trek is philosophical and Star Wars is a space opera.
  3. You should know every president since you were born. Even better, since Kennedy, here I’ll help you: Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama. Hey, I even know their Vice Presidents because that’s how I roll: Johnson, Humphrey, Agnew, Ford, Rockefeller, Mondale, Bush, Quayle, Gore, Cheney, Biden. BOOM! POW!
  4. These are not true American rock n’ roll bands: Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance or Nickelback (yes, I know the last one is Canadian, but they are truly awful).
  5. St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween and Valentine’s Day are not national holidays
  6. Ozzy Osbourne sang for Black Sabbath. He’s not just a doddering old man on an MTV reality show.
  7. MTV used to play music videos.
  8. If there has to be one, Empire Strikes Back is the best Star Wars movie.
  9. Transformers’ action figures were way cooler than any Michael Bay Movie.
  10. Sixteen Candles and Breakfast Club still hold up.
  11. The term “Huxtable Sweater” came from Dr. Cliff Huxtable’s sweaters on The Cosby Show in the 80’s.
  12. Pong is the greatest video game invented of all time

You’re Welcome


Nintendo 3DS booth on Santa Monica Third Street Promenade

Partially concealed roof of Nintendo's 3DS booth.

During the course of building and selling casual games here at Mobile Deluxe, we’re entertained by all manners of stimuli taken in from our balcony overlooking Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade. Whether it’s a folk singer covering Joni Mitchell’s “River”, a Christmas promotion of MINI’s new Countryman, or a mysterious Nintendo 3DS booth with an ominous impending-doom-countdown-timer….well, we’re always occupied.


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5 Key Factors for Deciding to Make Your App Free

Have you checked out the list of Top Grossing apps in the Apple App Store recently?  Besides some flash-in-the-pan specialty app for ornithologists, 6 of the top 7 top grossing apps are free.

Apple App Store Top Grossing

For close followers of the mobile industry, that’s no surprise.  In a previous post last October, I pointed out the impact that free apps were having on the App Store.  The Facebook model of free apps with in-game transactions is now dominating mobile as well.  Why?  As counterintuitive as it may seem, it’s possible to make more money when you give your app away for free.  Possible, but certainly not guaranteed.

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Free App Impact on App Store’s Top Grossing Games

Update: Between the writing and publishing of this entry, Ngmoco blew up.  First came the rumors, then the facts. That’s $400 Million worth of proof that Free-to-Play apps have a huge future on the Apple App Store!

Looking for a measure of how much impact Free-to-Play games are making on the Apple App Store? As Finger Gaming noted last week, free apps occupied 5 of the top 10 iPad top Grossing spots. And last Friday afternoon around 4:30pm PST, 12 of the Top 50 Highest Grossing iPhone Games were free. This is not a huge shock, given the runaway success companies like Zynga and the artist formerly known as Playdom are seeing with the free model on Facebook and MySpace. But it is great to see free apps successfully competing against branded juggernauts such as Madden, FIFA, Bejeweled and Final Fantasy in the Apple App Store.

Check out the list of free titles in the Top 50 Grossing iPhone Game Apps (10/01/2010 at 4:30PM PST):

CityStory TeamLava
We Rule Ngmoco
Haypi Kingdom Haypi
Zombie Farm Playforge
Coin Push Frenzy Freeverse
Original Gangstaz Rock Addmired
Millionaire City Digital Chocolate
Tap Fish BayView Labs
We City Ngmoco
Farm Story TeamLava
We Farm Ngmoco
Pocket Frogs NimbleBit

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Zombies vs. Vampires

If you had to become some kind of undead, which kind would you choose? Vampire or Zombie? Well that’s easy. I’d be a vampire because they can fly, have a highly functioning brain and they look good in ascots and goth wear. Next question, if you had to fight some kind of undead, what kind would you choose? That’s easy too. I’d choose to fight a zombie. They move slower and don’t talk back although the constant moaning would be a bummer (but it’s better than vampire brooding which is totally annoying). Now, for the tie breaker: if you had to play a game about the undead, what kind would you choose? I’ll say zombie. And if you look at the App Store top sellers, you will see that most people agree with me on this one.

Just glancing over the top sellers, I saw 5 zombie apps and no vampire apps. And if you inspect the App Store even closer, you’ll find hundreds of zombie apps. And, these are completely different zombie applications. You have apps where you straight up kill zombies, you have zombie war apps, you have an app where plants are fighting against zombies, you have an app where you have to kill zombies to get to your pub and then you have an app you can zombie-fy your own photos. How cool is that?

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GS60 Game Development

For mobile games, like just about anything else, getting your project done efficiently and on time is essential for success. At GOSUB60, we’ve decided to implement the agile framework known as Scrum to improve our development process, and thus increase our efficiency. Scrum has been used in software development for about 15 years, but it has only recently come to the games industry. I thought it might be useful to examine how Scrum applies to developing mobile software, and the ups and downs of our transition to this process.

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