Friday, June 26, 2009

The Day The Music Died?

Not today. No. 'The Music' clearly died about 16 years ago when the Stone Roses split up. Everything since then has been a pale phantom. And yes, I do want 'I am the Resurrection' played at my funeral - the full 10 minute version. That'll educate you all!

I was asked recently, by some students at work, what music I used to be into when I DJ'd at Uni. Whilst a lot of the stuff that I did was the generic 'shit disco' stuff, I was much happier doing what would have been kindly in those days been called 'indie disco' but was really a rip off of the old 'Wednesday Night At Walkers'

Walkers was a nightclub in the backstreets of Newcastle in the late 80s. Later, it was to have the misfortune of having Gazza get attacked within its walls and the scandal would mean it would change its name to Planet Earth and later some Vodka Bar place and then finally close. When it was Walkers, though, it was immense. Wednesday nights were a pilgramage, regardless of weather, time of year or coursework, to dance our socks off all night to what was at the time the bleeding edge of the not-dance-music stuff.

And dance we did. To (mis)quote the Wonder Stuff, we span round like a spinning thing! It was the one place where WE were the regulars and everyone else was encroaching on our club. Or at least it felt like that. We had our corner where we, and only we, threw our denim jackets. We might have drank but most likely not because we just didn't need to. We laughed, we cried, we played silly pranks on each other - it was great.

I distinctly remember three things. The first was the last night before I went to Uni when we (we, btw, being me and my mate Stephen - there were others: Toby, Ang, Carrie, Birdy) went and thanked the DJ for his tunes and then bought a half for the prettiest lass in the place who we had gawped at for months but never done anything about - to thank her for being pretty. I remember my first birthday at Uni, Stephen had gone back to Walkers and got everyone in the club to sign a card for me. They didn't know who I was, but they did and it was very cool indeed. And I remember the day we went back and discovered that it had got shit. We stood there and waited and it was still shit. And then like something out of a film, the old DJ appeared and started playing the music again and ... it wasn't shit anymore.

Does that last bit sound too far fetched? It might, but I shit you not, it happened. I remember, because I remember being on my knees doing the 'we're not worthy' thing in front of him! It was 1992, Waynes World was out and well ... thats what you did.

ANYWAY... enough of the memory lane rubbish. I put together my Spotify playlist of the music that used to be played back then. Its an approximation - I added the Pogues and the Levellers stuff at Uni and I always placed out with the Housemartins. The rest however it kosher.

Thats me. Thats my music.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Twitter Twatting Facebook?

I have seen a bit of a change in my social networking habits. As part of my previous employment I was inducted into the world of Facebook and it was fine. Its a useful communications tool and as part of my range of promotional tools for D&H, its good. However, recent changes to the system and the predelictions of the users seem to be rendering it almost irrelevant.

The change was the reformatting a few months ago, which seemed to turn the interface into a mimic of Twitter - lots of status updates. For some reason, that I cannot put my finger on, this seemed to dissolve some of the charm of the page. It seemed less ... interesting?

Add to this a real rise in the number of utterly pointless memes and bloody stupid quizes that are also part of the feed now and its almost impenetrable bullshit. Currently I can find out how well I know Abby, see someone's (mediocre) hi-score on Chain Rxn, read a couple of random newsposts, hear about someone's Tiny Adventure, know that someone has bought a horse in a game, know which rock star I am, know how evil I am, know how gay I am and know which revolutionary thinker I am. Truly, I am blessed by this knowledge.

I think that I value Facebook as an interactive contacts list and a place to play online Scrabble more than I do this utter toss.

The other change is that a number of people are now sychronising their Facebook status updates and their Twitter feeds. Which, initially, I found bloody annoying. Now however, I have switched camps ... and here's why.

Facebook lets people walk up to you and ask to be your friend. You have to actively reject them or drop them. Its a powerful social dynamic. Twitter is different. You decide to follow people and you have nothing to do with who follows you. Its a lot less personal, a lot more detached. What does that mean? Well, I feel no social necessity to follow every single person I know on Twitter. I can be quite discerning. I can hone my feed to things and people that I find actually interesting, rather than people who I might well want to contact eventually.

So I find myself taking more and more notice of Twitter and less and less notice of Facebook. Scrabble being exempted from this ignorance.

Its an interesting change of heart!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Games Expo - or 'Where Did My Stock Go?!'

So, this weekend was Games Expo - one of the biggest and broadest events in the UK games calender. Boardgames, wargames and CCGs all rub shoulders with roleplayers in a massive set of halls in Birmingham. It is an exceptionally well organised convention that could easily suck every penny from your pocket.

I approached this con with a degree of uncertainty. Its the most expensive con to attend and the crowd is very varied. You can never tell what will happen. Its quite a financial risk to cover your costs properly. D&H has also been out for 9 months and I recognise that it is quite a niche game, so it must be reaching saturation soon, right? I tried to mitigate this by releasing the 1809 Miscellany, to stimulate sales and put something new out there. Oh I know, its very business and not very 'indie' but I have bills to pay!

So, how did things pan out?

I sold out. I sold out of EVERYTHING. Even my own personal copy of the game.I sold half my stock in the first quarter of the convention. That was unexpected. I sold the game to new people, to people who have played it with their friends, to people who are playing campaigns (!) themselves, to wargamers and (more importantly) to retailers. D&H is now going to be available in stores like Waylands Forge in Birmingham and Leisure Games in London. Moreover, there were people enthusing about it and people genuinely excited about Beat to Quarters.

We also had Revenge of the B-Movie 2, Pulp! and Labyrinths & Lycanthropes on the stall, new games all, and they sold strongly as well. In fact, the stall took a record amount of money which was a shock during a recession.

Long term readers may remember me posting about having difficulties dealing with compliments and this weekend was no exception. I did take the advice and try to use each compliment as a route to talk about further plans etc. It felt a little shilly, but it stopped the embarassed shuffling and annoying silences.

The con was also a massive exercise in restraint for me. Not on the games front, but on the wargames front and the *ahem* research for BtQ front. Warhammer Trafalgar is beautiful. The Victrix Napoleonics now have French *sob* and there were just a load of interesting ... STUFFs! I did buy a cheap box of some of those little CCG style press out ships for BtQ stuff. £5 spent all weekend. I'm like a feckin' saint!

I'm now out of stock. I have never been out of stock. Its a fun feeling.