Okay, so I'm Editor-in-Chief of EA.com. Let me address your initial question, which I assume goes something like this: "What the fuck does THAT mean?" Actually, I'm not going to answer that yet. First I'm going to tell you how this came about.
This is mostly my doing. Meaning: I lobbied for this. It started with the EA Podcast. Over the summer, while I was beginning to feel like I was festering with the Sims group, and being under-utilized,I had lunch with a friend of mine at the company, a dude who also had a long career elsewhere in the game industry before arriving at E(verything's) A(wesome). It was a bitch session on my part, frankly. I was being totally whiny. I may even have simpered a little. The details are foggy. My friend listened patiently, quietly, chewing his food with a small smile on his face, nodding at appropriate moments to my sad, whiny tale.
After I was done, or at least when I paused to take a break, my friend looked me in the eye and said the following: "Why are you waiting for EA to recognize you? Why don't you just suggest something that YOU have to offer them?"
Yeah. Well, that's how smart people think. As soon as he said it, I knew he was right. And, in fact, just about 3 minutes later, while still talking to him, I said out loud, "well, shit, these guys don't have a podcast. I can totally do that." And as soon as I said it out loud, I knew I was going to make it happen. It was, frankly, kinda dumb that EA didn't have one. If *any* company could put together an interesting podcast, it was EA. Think of the wealth of talent in so many different fields, the rich history of games to discuss: Once you start thinking even a little about the content possibilities, it's endless.
I immediately went back to my desk. Did a little research. Did a lot of thinking. Made up a PowerPoint presentation, and spammed it to every EA exec I could think of that might be interested. And, yep, the feedback was great. I got an immediate green light, but only with the caveat that I had to do it pretty much with no budget, as kind of a "rogue" operation. It was at this point that I met my now co-worker and co-conspirator Samantha LaPerre, managing editor of EA.com, who instantly got what I was up to and eagerly jumped aboard. I've been blessed by an amazing series of managing editors over the years: Ken Brown, Dana Jongewaard, Sean Molloy, Ryan Scott, and Samantha is yet another, totally brainy and organized and the perfect complement to my scattershot absentmindedness. Plus, she has a great radio voice!
Samantha helped (and continues to help) with all the logistical details of setting up the podcast, and before we knew it we were recording.
Once I met Samantha and started podcasting, my future became clearer, to both of us. We started talking about EA.com in general, and the fact that there seemed to be so much unrealized potential, again, just like with the podcast. Samantha wears multiple hats--a fate of most managing editors--and has a marketing background, so her ability to actually manage and control "editorial" was constrained. So we brainstormed. And again, as in my earlier conversation over lunch, the answer seemed obvious. I'm coming from 17 years in journalism, 13 of those with a gaming magazine and website. Why was I *not* applying this to my new job?
(Well, we know the answer to that: I wanted to try something new. But it was almost a year now. And circumstances/the economy/whatever we're not favoring me. I was going nowhere. It was going to be a tremendous uphill battle to win any serious cred with this group. And I wanted more than that.)
From there, it just became a matter of lobbying and pitching and waiting. I got the theoretical green light mid-summer, which was fantastic, and great for my morale, but since then it's been a waiting game, just for all sorts of necessary logistical reasons. But now I'm in, finally. And my hopes, and ambition, are high.
I am completely clear on one thing: This is not a return to "journalism" for me. Let's not kid ourselves. I'm the EIC of a corporate website whose primary goal is to sell games. I'm not back in the media. I'm not going to be writing scathing reviews of EA games, or giving high scores to competitors' games, like the amazing Torchlight, which you should all go buy right now here or on Steam.
But that doesn't mean there isn't a ton I can do to make the site cool and interesting to gamers. There is. Think about it. I have 27 years of this company's history to play with and reference. A gigantic motherload of classic games and legendary designers. A thriving campus and all sorts of awesome partners (Bioware, DoubleFine, id) to draw from. It's a goldmine of content possibilities: Interviews, profiles, retrospectives, wikis, panel discussions--and on and on.
I'd be foolish to completely tip my hand here--especially since it's all still percolating right now--but I can tell you that I'm going to do my damnedest to push the boundary as far as I can take it. I may not come out and say "BOY DOES THIS GAME OF OURS SUCK!", but I'm definitely going to find that outer edge. Honestly, I believe that this is what smart companies do. I think this is where things need to be. "Transparency" is a buzzword, but it's also something I believe in. You can't bullshit people. Well, you *can*, but it won't work in the long run. They'll figure it out, and then resent you forever. And, really, why bullshit them? We're just a bunch of people, doing our best to do a good job, just like everyone else. And what people do at EA is super interesting. Not perfect, by a longshot. But always interesting. It's that avenue of things I'm hoping to explore, in an honest and open way, or at least as much as I can without getting fired. But I like that edge. I like the risk. I'm still not sorry I did that MySims Agents video, despite the fact that I pissed off I don't know how many people at EA. I still think it was funny.
Anyway: I'm yammering. And it's time for breakfast. What I'm going to want from You All now is your suggestions and requests and ideas. What would you like to see at EA.com? What don't you want to see? What would convince you that going to a company website would be worth your while? Lay it on me. I won't pay you for your idea. I probably won't even credit you! But you'll be able to sleep more soundly at night, knowing you helped me in my career and in making EA just that much more cooler. As if that were possible!
The Geekbox: Episode 224
6 hours ago