The kind of people who are online during an Apple event

trevorheath-bettedavis

 

Watching a tech event as it unfolds online and letting the world know what you think about it as it happens is the modern day equivalent of a bunch of prepubescent kids talking during a movie really loudly.

The only difference being, instead of the rest of the cinema beating them to a pulp, everyone and their grandmother  has something to add the conversation, giving the casual observer a lot more of unnecessary chatter to wade through.  So if you use Twitter, Facebook or any of those newfangled “social media” websites, be prepared to be carpet bombed with a slew of opinions. Most of which exist for the sheer need of validation.

After all, no other tech event attracts as much of a crowd as Apple what with a slew of announcements slated for the 22nd of this month, Granted it’s probably nothing more than new iPads and updated Macbook Pros, but that’s not going to stop the hordes from going online is there?

Having said that, while I can’t devise a foolproof way of avoiding all the unnecessary chatter, but I can take a guess on who are the people behind it.  In no particular order:

1. Android fanboys: sure, Google has a Nexus announcement a few days later. But nothing makes the chip on their shoulder get any bigger (aside from gargantuan phones like the Note 3) than seeing how far behind they stand with regard to the competition. No surprise given how launchers that imitate iOS functionality almost, always top the Play Store. Expect them to be posting about how “Google did it first” , how “Apple is all about marketing” and how their “spec sheet is still rubbish”.  Hell hath no fury like a fanboy scorned especially one from the rival camp.

2. Startup founders: apparently it’s important for such folks to be seen commenting on what Apple does rather than you know, focus on their own business which in most cases , has absolutely nothing to do with what happens in Cupertino. I guess it’s a way to while away time under the pretense of getting visibility with a cleverly framed tweet or two. There probably is a secret formula they have that links their witticisms on social networks during such events to lead to an increased valuation. Because apparently VCs like nothing more than grammatically incorrect statements that are controversial for the sake of being so. Peppered with an overdose of punctuation marks of course.

3. Journalists  SEO monkeys: self-explanatory really, “content” sites need to cover the news and cover it on time. Given how lazy most writers are (this one included) you need a half-trained search engine optimisation chimp to wade through the clutter of search results and heavily referenced phrases from the event in order to shove it down the throat of the poor tech writer or journalist in the morning who was probably drinking himself to death last night.  And probably commits suicide after losing his mind trying to figure out how to put all the needed keywords in a headline without giving away the story so unsuspecting website viewers actually click the link.

4. Apple fanboys: it wouldn’t be an event without them of course. They range from the diehards who wouldn’t think twice before letting go of their right gonad to get an iDevice to the born again sort who were all “Hurrr durrr Apple sux since Steeev died!!!” a year ago. From the entire bunch, they’re usually the most in number, already prepping themselves to go under the knife, to remove what organs they have left to get whatever Apple announces. Poor sods.

5. Nokia fanboys: yes they still exist. Like every year, they’ll simply talk about how “My N72/N95/*insert N and random number here* had all these features in 2005″. Which is a symptom of their condition: a reality distortion field greater than most Apple fanboys. To the point where they wish Nokia was never bought by Microsoft. But that’s a post for another time.

So if you value your sanity you’d best be served avoiding the internet from a little prior to 10:30 PM Indian Standard Time (or 10 AM Pacific Standard Time). Go out, have a drink, meet some friends, play a few video games, save the world. Unless, you’re one of the above, then go ahead. You’re fueling the laugh machine in ways more than one. Usually unintentionally.

Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut. Fan Service and Midi-Chlorians

Merely a day after my ramblings about Mass Effect 3’s conclusion, it seems that the folks at BioWare are going to release a post-game DLC entitled Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut to explain the rather bleak and abrupt ending.

While rabid, vocal, rage-prone fans would consider this a win, I’m beginning to wonder when the hell did the industry devolve into fan service? Rather, would I be wrong to use the word “devolve” in the first place? Reason being, games were first products sold off the shelf, then the business model evolved to sell them as a service, keeping you engaged over the initial “OMG I HAZ NEW GAME TO PLAY” phase what with post-launch DLC and enhanced rosters (FIFA, NBA) among other things.

And then we have this step from BioWare thrown into the mix. A combination of some rather vibrant feedback and developers responding publicly. Though they aren’t going to change the ending, they’re offering more insight into what happened which should keep most if not all fans in check. A sort of collaborative post-game DLC if you will, squarely purposed around giving fans what they want, even if it isn’t exactly all of it.

Considering that consoles have long development cycles (compared to other devices) and sky high development costs, it isn’t such a bad thing to keep your existing audience happy. After all it’s easier to keep an already receptive gamer buying your new iterations (such as the rumoured Mass Shift game that takes elements from The Lost Guardian) with minimal marketing effort.

I do wonder though, what kind of precedent this sets.Since the smaller publishers don’t have the budgets of an EA and there are costs involved in hosting DLC on platforms such as Xbox Live and PSN as well as royalties, it becomes tougher to justify creating content on platforms that isn’t as open as say, Steam.

Most of all though, it smirks in the face of even considering games as art and puts it in the same category as cheesy anime and manga which is obviously anything but. Not that it matters though. If anything, this move will ensure sales of the next Mass Effect game are robust.

As for me, I’m curious to see what direction BioWare takes with the franchise though I believe that some mysteries, no matter how bleak and abrupt, should be kept as mysteries. The last thing I want, is another midi-chlorian moment. That’s what spoiled Star Wars for me. I don’t want the video game equivalent of Star Wars going down the same path.