Sunday, December 30, 2007

It's The End of the Year As We Know It

I planned to do a spoof "top 10" list but it kind of fell by the wayside as I've been out and enjoying London, so instead I'll do a serious predictions for 2008 post mixed with some reflections on 2007. It's been a hell of a year; I had no idea I'd end up living in London when 2007 dawned. We took a vacation to Spain, I've sorted out some problems in my life and started tackling new ones. I haven't really lost much weight but I haven't gained any either, which I'll accept for the time being. Last year, I was in the midst of launching Windows Vista - two words that still cause my team to tremble in fear - and was looking with hopeful eyes towards the new year, writing poetry of questionable quality and not a hell of a lot else.

Now I'm certainly less stressed out, although I feel my career has taken an interesting turn. The odometer turned to 29 this year and it's time to figure out what the hell I want to do with my life. Do I really want to continue in marketing? Or try my hand at something else? I admit that my enthusiasm from marketing comes partially from the subject matter - clients, accounts or products I find interesting or I care about. When you take that part of the equation away it becomes very rote and dull. I realize that's kind of whiny, but I also realize that I'm getting to the point in my career where I can start to choose the kinds of things I want to work on and the kinds of jobs where I really fit. That doesn't mean anything for the short term, but it certainly gives me a perspective on my destination when we move back to the States.

So with that out of the way, here's my predictions for the new year, covering the areas of my expertise in no particular order:

  • New Marketing has reached an apex. This is already evident: bloggers are either repeating common-sense statements or simply regurgitating nearly verbatim what they hear elsewhere. Which isn't to say there isn't a lot to do in this field yet, but the concept of "new, awesome ideas" is and will rapidly be replaced by merchandising and productizing these concepts instead. This is fueled in no small part by what I was bitching about here - PR people know they need to be on Facebook or want to make a viral video, so new marketing is going to become more of a factory than a workshop to accommodate those demands.
  • In traditional gaming, the industry is going to either stagnate for a while or continue its slow but steady decline. The wildcard: D&D 4th Edition. From what I've heard (very little, admittedly) the changes sound interesting - and I personally can vouch from the last overhaul that having $500 worth of the "old version" doesn't mean you won't eventually upgrade to the "new version." This will undoubedly keep mass market RPGs afloat for a little while, while Indie RPGs will continue to do as well as can be expected. Companies like Green Ronin will step up and take a piece of the pie (full disclosure: I used to play board games with one of the owners of Green Ronin on occasion). There will be no one "must-have" collectible game.
  • Video games: rather than speculate on what console is going to win (full disclosure: it's been more than a year since I worked on the Xbox 360 account, but I should still mention that I worked on it), I'm more interested in what interesting games are coming out. Grand Theft Auto 4 looks pretty solid, but all the "big" games for each platform have already been released. Well, except for whatever the next Metal Gear and Final Fantasy happen to be on the PS3 but somehow I doubt they're really going to have that big of an impact. I played some good games this year, but none of them inspired me to say "holy shit that was awesome" when I put down the controller. BioShock did while I was playing it, but not at the end. I admit I haven't played Drake's Fortune, Mass Effect, Mario Galaxy or Assassin's Creed yet - but somehow I doubt I'm going to have that experience with any of those games either. And I expect next year will be the same. Kind of sad, really.

    Except that Empire: Total War will be out and as formulaic as the series is it will consume a large amount of my time.
  • The US Presidential Election. Who the fuck knows? I know who I hope will win, but otherwise it's anyone's game at this point. 2008 will certainly be interesting in this regard.
So there's my predictions. Now I have a writing prompt for December 30, 2008. That's forward thinking!

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