Everything I Know About Plants vs Zombies, I Learned From a 7 Year Old

I’ve been working in the casual games industry for over five years now. I’ve played a lot of the games that my company, I-play, has made and distributed over these years. As a marketer, I sit in meetings theorizing and analyzing our customers’ motivations for playing the games we distribute so that we can adapt our marketing messages to their goals.

Noa’s Plants vs Zombies original designs

But it wasn’t until I visited my 7 year old earlier in the year and watched him play Plants vs Zombies that I truly understood the mindset of playing these games.

A week before Christmas I was on a Skype call with my in-laws when I noticed that my nephew, Noa, was playing PvZ. I told him that I’d played the game and we talked about which levels we liked and how far we’d advanced. I knew immediately that he was a far more advanced player of the game than I was.

I play casually on my PC at work and on my iPhone on  the subway on my way to and from the office. If I lose and the zombies eat my brains, I get frustrated, but it’s not a big deal. I could get really sucked into it for a few hours, and then put it down for days. It’s a hobby, a casual escape (that’s why they’re called “casual games”, right?), not an obsession. But for Noa, he talked about the game with such passion that you would have thought he’d designed the game himself. Continue reading

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Best Email Marketing Ever.

Best Email Marketing Ever.

You don’t not open an email when the sender is Seneca Crane.

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WE DID IT! Marriage Equality Passes in New York

Last night, after a long week of speculation and frustration in Albany, throughout New York State and across the country, the New York State Senate passed the Marriage Equality Bill, 33-29, extending equal marriage rights to same-sex couples in New York State.

There are many people to thank for making this happen, first and foremost, Governor Andrew Cuomo, who after only six months in office took a primary goal of his and made it a reality.

Continue reading

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We Have Nothing To Fear From Love and Commitment

Said two years ago, and it still rings true today:

“We have nothing to fear from love and commitment.” – New York State Senator Diane Savino

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Respect David Tyree’s Convictions, But Don’t Tolerate Their Consequences

Earlier today, ESPN columnist Jemele Hill wrote a column entitled ‘Respect David Tyree’s Convictions‘ about the Super Bowl champion’s public opposition to gay marriage in general, and the passage of a same-sex marriage bill in New York State in particular:

Tyree, whose catch in Super Bowl XLII is among the most amazing plays in NFL postseason history, has drawn widespread criticism for his strong opposition to gay marriage. The issue is a hot topic in New York, where the state legislature is currently considering whether to make New York the sixth state to legalize same-sex marriage.

In a recent video for the National Organization for Marriage, Tyree said passage of a gay marriage bill would lead to “anarchy.”…

Tyree, a devout Christian, is certainly not alone in his beliefs. Though The New York Times reported recently that his views might be “evolving,” President Barack Obama, who will visit New York this week, is on record as supporting civil unions for gay couples but not same-sex marriage, citing his religious beliefs.

Hill’s argument is that, although controversial and unpalatable to those who support marriage equality – 58% of New Yorkers, Tyree has the right to his opinion and free speech to voice it, and that should be respected. In that, she is correct. According to the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, we are granted free speech and Tyree does have every right to voice his opposition to a proposed law.

However, Tyree’s position – and that of anyone who uses their religious beliefs to oppose civil marriage law – should absolutely not be tolerated. Continue reading

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That T-Shirt You’re Wearing Was Designed by a 10-Year Old

THIS is awesome. From the Brooklyn Industries blog, Words from the Watertower:

Earlier this month, Brooklyn Industries hosted a Design Your Own T-Shirt Booth for kids at Park Slope’s Fifth Avenue Street Fair. Dozens of kids flooded the booth to show us their talent. One lucky winner has been selected to have his/her design printed on a BKI kids t-shirt later this summer! We are keeping the winning design under wraps for now, but click on the image below or here to see a slide show of some of our favorite designs.

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Coney Island Day

Being at Coney Island is like stepping into another era. There’s this cheesiness about it, but also this side of it that’s really beautiful and makes me think of my grandparents’ Brooklyn. It seemed that everything there was made for being photographed. I took these shots with my iPhone and used Instagram to apply some of the filters.
Start getting excited!

Coney Island, a set on Flickr.

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A Beer Drinker’s Guide to SXSW: Five of the Best #BeersofTexas

As a first-timer at the South by Southwest Interactive Conference last year, I found it pretty overwhelming deciding what to do. There are so many simulataneous events, meetups, parties, and of course panels, with everything laid out on the official SXSW website in chronological or alphabetical order, so it’s hard to distinguish the “must-attend” events from those that will ultimately suck. You kind of have to be an insider, or know some insiders, to get the goods on what actually is good. While I hardly will call myself a veteran – I just have one year under my belt –  there is one area in which I can offer some “insider” tips on how to enhance the SXSW experience: local beer.

As I mentioned, there are a lot of parties and chances are, you’ll be drinking a lot of beer. You don’t want to be stuck drinking Amstels and Buds, and since you’re in Austin, home to a great local beer scene, why not sample the hometown brews? This was my goal last year: to try as many beers from Texas as I could. My friend Amanda and I called it the Beers of Texas Tour and tagged our tweets about each beer we tried #beersoftexas. This experience spawned my interest in tweeting and blogging about local beers throughout the U.S., and thus The Beer Tour was born.

So without further ado, here’s my quick guide to five of the best Texas brews you’ll find, and where to find them at SXSW: Continue reading

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Nostalgia Beats New Media Hype in Super Bowl Ads

In social media circles, the buzz leading up to the Super Bowl was all about digital and social integration in advertising. It’s not just about a funny or explosive TV ad anymore. This is the future. There were ads created and voted on by fans. Brands would be talking about their ad campaign in advance on Facebook and Twitter, leaking sneak previews on YouTube, encouraging viewers to interact with them before, during and after the game in the digital world. A commercial would no longer just a commercial. It would be an ongoing, fully conversational campaign. 2011 would kick off a whole new trend in Super Bowl advertising.

So who came out on top? PepsiCo’s Crash the Super Bowl” spots for Doritos and PepsiMax may have been put there by fans, but they employed the same old, tired slapstick humor: people throwing cans of soda that hit someone in the crotch or head and men who act like cavemen.  Another, more clever,  Doritos ad, “House Sitting,” was good for a laugh, but was it truly memorable?  Both Pepsi Max and Teleflora stuck with the all-men-think-about-is-sex shtick. Groupon, a company with roots in social media, invested in traditional media but revealed that they never took  Advertising 101 and have been subsequently slammed for poor taste.

Only a few brands actually referenced social media or new technology in the ads themselves. Best Buy was a standout, making fun of rapid changes in technology to promote their “Buy Back” program – when you want to upgrade to the newest device, they’ll buy back your old one. They featured the juxtoposition of old and new in the “classic” rock star Ozzy Osbourne and current pop star Justin Bieber. The humor in the ad isn’t forced. It feels authentic because everyone just spoofs themselves — Best Buy spoofing the latest technology, Bieber and Ozzy spoofing themselves. Authenticity. That’s what makes the social media wheel go ’round, doesn’t it?

But really, my friends,  despite all the new media hype, in my book the winner was good old fashioned… Nostalgia. Sure, we’ll always have dumb men and hot women on display, but the ads that I remembered most the following day were those that allowed us to connect with icons of our past. Last year’s most memorable (and most impactful in the long-term) ad featured Betty White, an icon of the pop culture past. This year, Volkswagen’s “The Force” revived Darth Vader through the eyes of a child, connecting many of us with one of the greatest film franchises of the last 30 years. I’m still laughing out loud every time I watch this ad. I’ve watched the Today Show interview with the kid that plays Vader. I’ve watched “The Making Of ‘The Force’“. It was real. It connected with the kid in all of us. And it stuck. The official Volkswagen account has over 28 million views for the video.

Another instant classic was NFL’s “American Family,” a montage of favorite television clips where the characters are getting ready for the Super Bowl. Retrospective montages of classic TV moments pretty much guarantee success. Who doesn’t love watching Seinfeld’s 100th episode, no matter how many times you’ve seen it before? Remember Apple’s “Hello” ad that introduced the iPhone?

So, a word to advertisers for next year: Don’t think forward. Think classic.

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The United States of GOOD Beer

Thanks to Benjamin Kabak and Amanda Rykoff for passing this along. The map of the U.S., where each state (save Idaho) is represented by a locally brewed beer, comes from nominations by the GOOD community:

We asked you: What is the most awesome, best-tasting, sustainably brewed, independently owned, community-oriented craft beer brewed in your state?The map below shows the brewery in each state that received the most nominations from the GOOD community. It’s the United States of GOOD beer. Time for a road trip?

Road trip, indeed! I agree with many of these selections, though there are simply too many awesomest, best-tasting beers from California, New York, Colorado, Oregon and yes, even Texas, to choose from. But I do have to give a big Brooklyn congratulatory shoutout to Sixpoint.

Very surprised that Tampa’s Cigar City didn’t get a nod for Florida. They’re pretty much all I hear when speaking of FlaBrews.

Kona gets all the love in Hawai’i, but when you’re there, don’t miss out on Hawai’i Nui Brewing, especially their Hapa Brown Ale.

Looks like Idaho’s going to need to start lobbying for their local breweries! I’ve never had Idahoan beer, but a quick search on the Google reveals Grand Teton Brewing Co. Their beers have some great names like Sweetgrass APA, Bitch Creek ESB and Moose Juice Stout. They’ve got my vote.

Fellow beer tourists, what do you think of these selections?

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