All About BobC
I originally hadthis post about the HotSpot, and this one about Jeff mushed together, buteach needs to be its own separate thing.
I wanted to say a few words about Jeff. For about the last year or so that I worked at GameSpot, just before I left for Blizzard, Jeff was my boss.I worked primarily as a reviews editor for him in that final year at GS. Most of you know Jeff as that funny off-the-wall guy who charismatically carried On The Spot with Rich, and also my own podcast, the HotSpot. And he is that guy. The side you might not know is the Jeff who wouldn't hesitate to go to bat for his people. I wrote quite a number of reviews while working for Jeff--not all of them were particularly flattering of course. And once in a while some angry marketing flack, or on occasion, producer would contact me, irate over my lambasting their game. All I ever had to do was forward them to Jeff, and he'd bite the bullet for me--he'd deal with their angry tirade and shield me and all the other reviews editors from all that nonsense.
So what you say? That's his job as head of the reviews department, right? Well here's the thing. He stood by me even when I was in the wrong. Some of you may remember the gaffe I made on a certain high-profile review, regarding certain online features of the game. That was totally my fault, and my oversight on a high profile game. Even though it was a relatively innocuous thing that didn't materially affect the rating, it turned into quite a fuss, primarily because fanboys of a certain major game company think the review scale for that company's games should run from 9 to 10 instead of 1 to 10. And if a review dare drop below 9, the facts and assertions in that review better be bulletproof, lest you incur their eternal ire. In this case, it was not.
So it was scandalous and embarrassing for GameSpot to deal with that mistake. And Jeff could have easily thrown me under the bus. But he didn't. We had a discussion about what went wrong and how I missed it. I told him what happened, and that I was terribly embarrassed by the whole thing. He and I then sat down together and tested the specific features I missed. He agreed with me that they were immaterial to the score, and then we added the amendment to the review. There was no yelling, no threatening, no passive aggressive bullsh*t. He treated me like a professional, worked together with me to make it right, and discussed how to avoid making that mistake again. If there was any fallout or angry phone call from the publisher on that issue, I never heard or knew about it--he or one of the other senior editors handled it, because they always believed it was important forthe reviews staff to be independent and not worry about outside pressures.From start to finish, he stood by me and my work even in the rare case that it wasn't up to GameSpot's high standards. And I always appreciated that.
It's what makes it extra sad to me that Jeff was dismissed. Apparently there was no one above Jeff in the GameSpot hierarchywho would do the same thing for him that he did for me -- stand by him and the work he did.
That was possibly the best HotSpot that's been recorded to date. I was moved at the heartfelt earnestness of those who spoke on the podcast, all of whom I had the privilege of working with during my stint at GameSpot. What hit home for me is the part when Ricardo talked about those who work at GameSpot being a family, because it's absolutely true.
When I first started working there in February of 2003, I have to admit that I was a little apprehensive. Since GameSpot was part of CNET, I was worried that the folks working there would be all corporate, and there'd be a coldness to working there. Prior to my arrival at GameSpot, I'd just come off of working for FiringSquad and Gamers.com, companies which were founded by people who became close friends of mine. I recruited my college buddies to work there, and we all took to working together, and that was a big family atmosphere. Matter of fact, during my stint at FS and Gamers, I turned down one or two chances to work at GameSpot because I felt too much loyalty to my friends at the startup.
So coming to GameSpot, I didn't know what to expect, but I thought for sure, it couldn't offer the same cameraderie that I enjoyed at FS and Gamers. I couldn't have been more wrong. In my roughly three and a half years at GameSpot, I forged quite a number of friendships that persist to this day and will continue to flourish. Sure the site had the trappings and backing of a big corporation, but you'd never know it from the atmosphere in the GameSpot portion of the office. There was and probably still is a marked difference in feel when you walk through the edit, video, engineering, production, and art portions of GameSpot vs. any other floor in CNET, which might as well be Initech from Office Space for what I could tell.With the GameSpot floor, there'sa palpable difference in attitude and culture. Sure it's a lot of fun loving guys and gals, but every single person took their work seriously, because anything less would be letting down the rest of the family, most of whom were your friends.
In my time there, it really was the best of both worlds -- the passion and familial atmosphere of a startup or blog operation, with all the resources that a major corporation could provide. And guys like Greg Kasavin and Jeff worked so hard to maintain that separation, the duality that made GameSpot such a success. Hopefully those who are left, especially those who handle the business side, can value and draw upon the experience of the veterans to understand how it's supposed to be.
I was heartened by what I heard on the podcast, because I know all those guys. There is no more dedicated or honest group than my old mates at GameSpot--if they say it, you're damned right I'm going to believe it. And as long as those guys are still there, the people I know and believe in, I'm going to keep coming to GS to read the news, read the reviews, and watch the videos, because I know I can trust them.
I don't ever have to question it, because I've worked with these guys, looked them in the eye, drank with them, and busted my ass at the same damn tradeshows with them for years. None of the guys I know is going to print words or say anything into the camera that he doesn't well and truly believe. Here's hoping that the company that employs them will continue to protect their ability to do their jobs the right way.
Once a reviewer, always a reviewer I guess. Here's a movie review.
Pros: exciting car scenes; mad drift action; hotter chicks than the previous two movies; subtle angry-asian-man touches from director Justin Lin
Cons: they found a white guy who's a worse actor than Paul Walker; could have used more scenes with the scantily clad import models; too much talking
I stayed in the Bay Area an extra night to catch the premiere of Fast & the Furious: Tokyo Drift, and boy did I NOT regret it. If you love the series, this movie is twelve kinds of awesome. Yes the acting blows. Yes the script sucks even harder. But damn that's all just part of the appeal anyway--if you didn't get that into your head by this third movie, then you just never will get it. Stop reading now, and go back to discussing your favorite indie films with your other emo-friends over your decaf latte. Those of us who had red meat for dinner, keep reading. The F&F movies have been, are, and always will be about the car scenes and to a lesser degree, the girls. And Tokyo Drift delivers on both counts with authority.
For those who've only seen the trailer, you might ask yourself, how does a bumpkin-lookin cracka end up in Tokyo with Bow Wow trying to learn how to drift down parking structures and mountain roads against native Japanese drift champs? Is this an episode of Initial D or something? And where the heck did the dead-ringer-for-Brooke-Burke-but-younger-who-speaks-Japanese love interest come from? Pffft. Plot details. Never you mind. All you need to know is that the drift scenes and car chases in this movie are awesome and fun as hell to watch, and they come in just enough volume to keep you interested throughout the 90 minute or so runtime of the film. You'll come out of the theater wanting to fire up some OutRun or Ridge Racer. And almost as fun to watch are the sweeping, low angle camera shots of the races and parties where the movie would have you believe every other woman in Japan looks like a model straight out of Hot Import Nights, and dresses like there's a national shortage of fabric. Not that any red-blooded, heterosexual should mind, of course.
Director Justin Lin even manages to toss in a few subtle and not-so-subtle shout outs to the predominantly Asian American male viewership of the movie, like the scene where Han chides Sean about chasing DK's non-Japanese girlfriend Neela (aka Brooke Burke Jr.), "why can't you find yourself a nice Japanese girl like all the other white guys around here?" Clearly, Lin hasn't forgotten his Better Luck Tomorrow roots just yet, and while it's unfortunate he got stuck with such a lemon of a script for one of his first major Hollywood films, he certainly made lemonade out of it. Tokyo Drift is the perfect, mindless summer action flick, the kind of lightweight but engaging trifle that the film industry seems to have forgotten that us 18-35 year old males still like to see on the big screen.
PS: See if you can spot the MC Hammer poster that makes a cameo in the background of one (or more?) scene in the movie. It's like playing Where's Waldo. Except it's "Where's Hammer?"
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