Sunday, October 16, 2011

Jammin' with Jager

Attending a talk with Michael Jager is a bit like being in an information blender set to "liquify".  It's a constant barrage of ideas and concept that while never boring, is nonetheless difficult to parse.

Although they have a varied clientel, JDK is perhaps best know for their work with Burton snowboards and Microsoft Xbox.  It was their work with Xbox that I find the most interesting, but not because of the design and marketing work they did. 

Side Note:  I never liked the Burton spots, but then again I am so not the market for Burton.

I find it intriguing because Micrsoft has a brand that is lothed by so many.  Micro$oft, Microshaft, Windoze, etc.  The list goes on and on.  It is considered a faceless corporate monolith only interested in delivering bad product and services, taking your money, and maintaining a stranglehold on innovation.  So why work with a company so universally loathed?

I think the Microsoft doesn't always get a fair shake.  I'm coming at the from the perspective of an avid game player, but in the earlier days of computer gaming, it was the openess of their operating system (DOS) that allowed game developers to fourish, experiment, and push the technological boundaries of the PC.  Meanwhile, Apple's closed system actively sought to stifle game.  Expansion was difficult if not impossible.

When Windows 3.1 launched it was notoriously bad for games.  Developers continued to make games in DOS.  Microsoft saw what was happening, got the best gaming minds together and asked them what windows needed to do to run games better.  The result of this reaching out was DirectX, which is the building block of nearly all PC games.

Getting back to Michael Jager and Xbox, I think he saw past the bullshit and connected with the Xbox team on a personal level.  Saw what they were doing and was able to help them craft a message that resonated with the public.  For a relative newcomer to home videogame consoles, Microsoft has done remarkably well capturing their target (heh) market and becoming a household name.  Even Microsoft detractors have to admit, they knock this one out of the park.

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