We often joke about Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime’s no holds barred quotes and conference keynote bravado, and we really shouldn’t since he can apparently fly and shoot lasers from his eyes.
But on a more serious note, he really does appear to believe in his products and that they will, ultimately, extinguish conventional thinking about video games.
For that Brandweek has bestowed their Marketer of the Year award on Reggie’s ass kicking brow.
A lot of executives today can’t pull that whole extinguishing conventional thinking thing off. They get tattoos or talk in in wildly spinning circles about things other than video games and never appear genuinely interested in the nuances and character of the video game industry as it once was or could be again. That may be my opinion, but it’s a pretty informed one. Just a year ago, if you were to ask someone randomly on the street to describe video games — or heaven forbid asked them to play one with you — they’d probably laugh it off nervously and decline to participate, because they considered you a geek or testosterone fueled knuckle dragger. Is that fair? For the majority of you reading this now, no, but it’s how we gamers are framed today. Just look at how the media covered the Halo 3 launch in September, and what types of people it profiled or photographed. Again, fair or unfair is irrelevant. It’s already done.
It didn’t used to be that way. Back when I was younger and had a few more hairs on my head and wore parachute pants, playing video games was just something people did. That is was Nintendo people played is good and all, but the larger point — that people were more accepting of the medium — was the important one. Sure there were outlandish marketing campaigns, and video game-themed cereals, as there are today, but back then they were a part of the culture, and not some isolated sect.
I guess I’m a people person, just like Reggie. When I saw the Balance Board, my immediate reaction wasn’t negative, it was to think of what could be accomplished from here on out in gaming that was not possible before. To think otherwise, in my mind, is about as close-minded and short-sighted as one can get in gaming. Will I buy it? I have no idea. Never played it, and I refuse to throw a tantrum and summarily dismiss something that I have never stepped foot on. Perhaps that’s my age talking, but I’m not that old. The same mentality goes for Wii Sports or Wii Play or whatever. In fact, I’ve actually taken the approach now where I will assume something on the Wii or DS is going to be great depending on how negative the video game media and hardcore gamer echo chamber’s reaction is to it. More negativity and childish name calling? Millions in sales and a real winner.
But back to Reggie. He’s won an award from Brandweek for marketer of the year. He deserves it. He turned around all the above to the tune of millions of units sold and a lead in the console race. He’s confident without appearing overly arrogant; he’s intelligent without talking down to old and new gamers alike; he’s *mostly* truthful in what he promises is coming down the pipeline; and he genuinely plays, believes in and supports his products 100%. Oh, and all the while he’s convincing massive amounts of people of every age, sex and culture to buy into this idea of touch based, motion sensing, affordable gaming for all.
In an era where the size of your balls and colorfulness of your vocabulary are the deciding factors in what gets made and what succeeds, that’s a pretty amazing feat indeed.
Congrats, Reggie. You earned it.