Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Schilling Gets to Pitch in the Post-Season

From CHEN PR Veep Kevin Kosh...

Yes, that'’s right, Curt Schilling -- of the Boston Red Sox (and Barb Heffner's previous blog entry preceding this one. I just wanted to go for effect.)

And though pitching in a tough post season environment is familiar territory to him, that's where the similarities ended.

He was far from the ace of this rotation, and he had none of his Red Sox teammates behind him. That said, it would be hard to get anything too far by him, since he was backed up by a wall with very big chalk boards on it. With his trademark confidence, wry wit and imposing presence, however -- not to mention his decades of experience in the topic at hand -- he most definitely is looking to be a rookie of the year candidate.

As Barb also noted, Mr. Schilling was the keynote speaker at the MIT Enterprise Forum'’s program, "“Tomorrow's Games: Mobile, Casual and Massively-Multiplayer Online Games."” He imparted his perspectives on the gaming industry, and "“soft pitched" his post-baseball venture, Green Monster Games. Joining the panel of industry luminaries who gave the audience both a history lesson and a peek into the future of the gaming industry, fellow speakers included:

Matthew Bellows, General Manager, Floodgate
Jason Booth, Technical Designer, Harmonix Music Systems
Alan Duggan, CEO, Nephin Games
Steve Meretzky, Creative Director, Muddy C Games
Mark Pover, CFO/COO, Utix Group
Dan Scherlis, CEO, Etherplay Premium Games [moderator]

I'’ll not spend much more time laying out the specifics of the session or Curt's contribution, that has been done by more expert sources than I from a sports perspective in the Eagle Tribune and from a technology perspective on CNET. (Although I will share one comment from Curt that brought the house down. An abrupt "“no"” to one question from a reporter was followed by Curt addressing the crowd with, "By the way, that'’s the way you deal with the Boston media. " After the laughter subsided, Curt finished his answer...)

However, I will take a few moments more to add some commentary from my own experience. I was a member of the team at our agency that participated in the launch of one of the defining games in online gaming history -- Ultima Online --– nearly 9 years ago. And it struck me as I listened -- the more things change, the more they stay the same.

What has changed is the continued innovation in how technology is used. That ranges from unbelievably realistic 3D worlds to the ability to create a "dance contest game"” that uses the camera on a cell phone to map and then translate physical movements into the online world.

What has also changed is the "“acceptance" of gaming more into the mainstream. Even with numbers a decade ago that placed games ahead of box office receipts, they were still considered "“toys"” to some mainstream media. Fast forward to today and now they're serious business indeed, including the fact that some online economies now function around real world currency and have attracted participation from real world media.

What hasn'’t changed are the spirited arguments around evolution -- online gaming signaling the demise of PC games, from here to where with the console market, "“sticky"” business models to drive consistent revenue, the relative lack of female gamers, and of course, the challenges of a physical technology infrastructure necessary to support an online world.

Finally, as a fan of both gaming and the Red Sox, I must end with the fact that beyond the intellectual discourse, there was an intangible in the room that was infectious. As with any profession, it's incredibly refreshing to meet a group of people who are consummate professionals, but with that twinkle in their eye that betrays an overwhelming childlike enthusiasm for the task at hand.

Or to use Curt's word to describe what he sees as the key to success --– passion.

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