Coffee Talk #488: Michael Pachter and the JetBlue Guy

So yeah, there I was at the Wedbush Securities E3 2012 party (aka Pachter-Palooza) when this guy introduces himself to me. At first, I was disarmed by his shockingly low and booming voice. Two seconds later, I noticed his name tag said “JetBlue”, so I asked, “So, JetBlue…. What brings you to a videogame party?”…

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, seeing friends in Asia for (possibly) the last time, whether meeting your ex at a club you frequented together is a good idea, or the brilliance of Singaporean food stalls, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

Please humor me as I share my favorite story from E3 2012. It’s not directly related to videogames, but it involves a prominent person in the business that many of you are familiar with. Now where’s that flashback transition??? (Imagine your own.)

So yeah, there I was at the Wedbush Securities E3 2012 party (aka Pachter-Palooza) when this guy introduces himself to me. At first, I was disarmed by his shockingly low and booming voice. Two seconds later, I noticed his name tag said “JetBlue”, so I asked, “So JetBlue…. What brings you to a videogame party?” To which he replied:

I’m a JetBlue flight attendant and I do the safety announcements on the flights. Michael Pachter was on one of my flights and he pulled me over and said, “You’re wasting your life on this airplane.” He invited me to this party and said he’d introduce me to some people to help me get into voice acting for games.

Now picture the above said by a god. I’m not talking about God god, but I’m not talking about crap gods either (Jeff god of biscuits, Simon god of hairdos, etc.). This man, Clint, spoke like a top-tier god. I’m talking Zeus, Odin, and cats like that. His voice was amazing.

What was more amazing (to me, anyway), was that Pachter took the time to chat with this fellow, invite him to a party attended by some gaming industry VIPs, and personally take him around to make connections (I saw him do this). Pachter is a pretty big deal in videogames and flight attendants…are not exactly adored. I thought it was cool, awesome, and touching that Pachter did so much for this random flight attendant.

In New York and (especially) Los Angeles, I’ve heard so many people say that they’re going to hook people up or help people out. Most of the time it’s just hot air. Seeing what Michael did for Clint was refreshing. It made me feel better about people. The big guy was actually helping out the little guy! And I believe the intentions were pure and simple too. The tale of Michael Pachter and the JetBlue guy is a beautiful story and my favorite from E3 2012.

My New York Checklist

Hi all! Thanks for leaving comments while I’ve been in New York dealing with a sickness in the family. It’s been tough, but things are getting better. Also, I’m pretty sure that my knees have frozen off. It’s hard for me to deal with this kind of weather; not really sure how I grew up like this. A decade in California and a year in Thailand have definitely thinned out my blood.

Now for a random food rant! Here are some photos of some of the goodies I gobbled up with my brother, as well as a checklist of what we ate.

  • Pizza (three times) — It’s still mind boggling that 99.9 percent of the pizza places in California can’t come close to NY pizza.
  • Bagels (two times) — It’s not as bad as the pizza, but NY bagels make CA bagels look silly.
  • Dunkin’ Donutes (two times) — This is more of a nostalgia thing. I generally prefer mom-and-pop bakery donuts.
  • Black and White Cookie — Another thing that’s hard to find in California. It seems so simple, yet….
  • Hot-Open Turkey — I miss East Coast diners. The ones in CA are healthier, but the variety and portions aren’t the same.
  • Mozzarella Fries with Gravy — It’s almost like poutine, but without the curds. Another one of my diner favorites.
  • Hot Dog — Onions and sauerkraut, naturally.

My brother and I were planning to hit up White Castle, but didn’t get around to it. Sure, you can buy the frozen ones at the grocery, but it’s not the same. Also, the jalapeño cheeseburgers aren’t available frozen. I’ll regret not grabbing White Castle when I was so close to it, but pizza was clearly the most important foodstuff to get.

I’m actually writing this from JFK and have several hours before my flight. Regular posting will resume shortly. I missed you guys!

The Worst Thing I’ve Seen at CES 2012

After several press conferences, preview events, and a full day of the expo, I’m pretty sure this is the worst thing I’ll see at CES 2012. You know Jay-Z’s song “99 Problems“? Some company took it upon itself to twist the lyrics to the song into a marketing message. I was talking to my friend from HP when I caught the sign from the corner of my eye. I said, “Does that sign really say that?!?” To which he replied, “No f**king way!” Looking at the sign makes me chuckle (from the utter lameness) and get a headache at the same time.

Today’s Poll: How Should Toilet Paper Roll?

Super important poll today! How should toilet paper roll? Some folks say over is the way to go. Others are more comfortable with it rolling under. It’s an important lifestyle choice and I’d love to hear how you roll. Kindly vote in today’s poll and explain your decision in the comments section.

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Today’s Poll: Candy Apples vs. Caramel Apples

I recently had an argument with a friend over caramel apples vs. candy apples. To me, one is vastly superior to the other. I’m honestly shocked on the rare occasion that I hear someone preferring the lesser snack over the obviously greater one. I chalk it up to bad taste or a defective gene. Just to check myself, I want your opinion on the matter. Kindly vote in today’s poll and back up your choice in the comments section.

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Warren Buffett Calls for Higher Taxes on Millionaires

I kind of have a man-crush on Warren Buffett at the moment. He recently wrote an editorial calling for higher taxes for people that make more than $1-million. He explains things clearly and his reasoning is sound. As an example, he pointed out the absurdity of the low tax rates he currently enjoys:

Last year my federal tax bill — the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf — was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income — and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.

If you make money with money, as some of my super-rich friends do, your percentage may be a bit lower than mine. But if you earn money from a job, your percentage will surely exceed mine — most likely by a lot.

Firstly, I love the term “super-rich”. It makes me think that Buffett and his friends parade around in capes…because they can. I wonder if I qualify as super-poor. I’m certainly not in the middle-class at the moment, but neither am I homeless or hungry. I’m pretty this makes me super-poor. Do I get a cape too?

Secondly, I think I’m going to have to abandon Margaritaville and promote Warren to my favorite Buffett. Sorry Jimmy.


Two Random and Funny Comic Con 2011 Pictures

Here are two random photos from Comic Con 2011 that crack me up. Above is Microsoft’s Major Nelson conducting an interview. I love how the Kinect sensor was tracking him the whole time. A bunch of us were goofing on him while he was interviewing because we’re mature that way.

If you’ve ever been to downtown San Diego then you know that pedi-cabs are abundant. Depending on what’s going on around town, you’ll see a variety of sponsored pedi-cabs with themes. My favorite was this Iron Throne pedi-cab sponsored by HBO’s Game of Thrones. I want one!

I Am the Angelina Jolie of Videogame Verbal Entertainers

It’s true! Do you know how I know this? Virgin Mobile’s Sarah Carroll said so. It was great spending the Thursday of E3 2011 seeing all kinds of outstanding games, but I missed Sarah. She was so sweet in the YouTube video above. If you can, please drop her a line on her Twitter account to tell her that you agree that I am the Brad Pitt and/or Angelina Jolie of videogame verbal entertainers and don’t forget to CC me.

Hanging with Sarah Carroll at E3 2011

I spent a large chunk of yesterday hanging out with Sarah Carroll. She’s a spokesperson for Virgin Mobile and this was her first E3. It was fun showing her around and introducing her to my pals. Sarah is fun and cool and beautiful — an excellent accessory / conversation piece to have around. I definitely got more attention with her than without her. Ha!

Anyway, (please) check out these photos of Sarah with some of my videogame industry friends and stay tuned for some fun videos!

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GDC 2011 Notes: Random Thoughts on the Experience

I wanted to write and post this yesterday, but my web host decided to suck. Here are some random thoughts on my GDC 2011 experience. Some of it is personal and some of it is business. All of it is the truth!

– In addition to some great networking and excellent parties, I got to have some quiet time with some of my favorite developers. Cliff Bleszinski treated me to some quiet drinks at the top of the Marriott Marquis. I caught up with Chris Cross over an excellent burger and learned that he’s now with THQ Partners. My darling friend and hottie Melissa Miller from 2K Games joined me for our annual catch-up session while devouring evil meat. Sure, I enjoyed lots of parties and meeting new people at the crazy crowded W Hotel, but these quiet catch-ups were special.

– Meeting Takashi Tokita was all kinds of excellent. The man worked on Final Fantasy IV, Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy VII, and Parasite Eve. I love so many of his games and it was an honor to interview him. I totally marked out and became a fanboy when he gave me an autographed Cecil Harvey action figure. It got even better at the FFIV anniversary party when he asked me to do tequila shots with him and draw Final Fantasy characters. I’m pretty sure I produced the worst black mage, white mage, and chocobo illustrations in the history of Final Fantasy.

– I was really impressed with all the money Google dropped on GDC. In addition to hosting informative sessions, the company gave away Chrome Cr-48 netbooks, Xoom Android tablets, and limited edition Android Nexus S phones. That’s definitely one way to get developers interested in your platforms. It also threw a big and expensive party, but the vibe was totally douchey.

– I was disappointed in Nintendo’s GDC keynote. There was way too much marketing content. Last time I checked, this was a developers conference. Nintendo’s message to developers wasn’t powerful enough. Iwata’s charming was drowned out by all the sales and marketing. Honestly, the company should have copied Google and gave free 3DS units to developers. That would have taken attention away from Google and the Apple iPad 2 press conference across the street.

– Cliffy’s panel was well attended and well received. I’m so proud of all his success. I’m even prouder that one of us has matured. Hmmm, I suppose that makes me the immature and (financially) unsuccessful one. Crap.

Battlefield 3 looked ridiculous. I didn’t really have any expectations going into the preview event, but I was floored with what I saw.

– The new Unreal Engine tech demo (That someone snuck me into. Thanks babe!) was even more ridiculous. I swear to you that it looked like CG-quality graphics in gameplay scenarios. I was half expecting to see a wizard behind the curtain after the demo ended. That said, most companies don’t have the art budget and technical skills to make games look that way. I’m sure the bar will be raised, but I’m not going to expect the majority of Unreal Engine games to look like that brilliant tech demo…though I hope I’m wrong.

– I was happy that I saw more GDC panel coverage than ever before. I’m sad that there are so many publisher preview events during the show. It takes away from the “developer” part of the conference. I understand that it makes economic sense since there are so many reporters there. I also understand that outlets get more traffic from previews than writing up developer panels. Still, it goes against the spirit of the show. Writers could be cranking really interesting and insightful articles on panels — articles that would help gamers understand more about development and help them get to know the amazing people behind the games. I remember posting an article about this at G4tv and getting heat for it. There was someone there that thought it was silly to admit that we made a mistake with our approach to coverage. Pfft.

– Absolutely loved the 1Up party. It was a bunch of old friends drinking and making a mess at the 1Up office. It was cool seeing people that I’ve known since the ’90s and hanging out with new friends. I had a blast taking over Sam Kennedy’s office, writing things on his white board, and making long distance calls to China.

– A lot of game writers use a similar rule, but if you grab me for a random demo and give me a USB drive then it better be a good size. Journalists judge PR this way. It’s true. This loud German developer grabbed (and frightened) me for a demo for an okay game that will stick in my head because of the 8GB USB thumb drive with the beta. Okay, I’m half kidding about this.

– Overall it was an excellent show with lots of great networking and a reminder that I should still try to do this. Sometimes it’s hard to see the “value” of what I’m doing and what I’m trying to do, but I’m surprised by the amazing people I’ve gotten to know over the years and even more surprised that some of them are interested in my perspective. DICE 2011 reminded me of how incredible the gaming business is, while GDC 2011 reminded me that I have a small place on the outside of the business. Prior to the show I had fears that this would be my last year covering games and that I would soon be on the management track at Burger King (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Thanks to a visit from Zoe and a great GDC, I’m determined to stay here.