Blu-Ray Sale and Game Blowout at Hollywood Video

blu-ray-saleBlowout Blu-Ray and Game Sale as Hollywood Craters

Blu-rays, DVDs and videogames are bearing closeout sale tags at Hollywood Video as the crumbling of the movie rental business continues. We stumbled on this recently when rolling into an Austin-area Game Crazy, Hollywood’s game subsidiary, for the usual dose of videogame overexposure, and instead got a cold shot of business reality. The shelves were bare at Game Crazy, and next door at the Hollywood, all the games, Blu-rays, and DVDs were wearing eye-catching red sale tags.

This is actually the second bankruptcy filing for the country’s second-largest video and game rental company. Hollywood’s vomited red over the last several years, with revenues plummeting 30% from 2008 to 2009. They’re closing all of their locations in Austin, and two-thirds of all their locations, down from a peak of 4,500 in 2005.

Meanwhile, the #1 movie and game rental company, Blockbuster, is also riding the downward spiral, closing 1000 stores.

The game writer guy snagged several used games at tasty prices, but the movie offerings were weak. However, they also handed out flyers about an online DVD and Blu-Ray sale. If you’re not near a Game Crazy, try the online sale, where you can get Blu-ray movies for about $7 each, with free shipping, if you do it right.

Getting the Best of the Blu-Ray/Game Sale

The Hollywood Video site is behaving a little funky right now. When I first created my account, it showed me three addresses of complete strangers and asked me to pick my address. A little disturbing. And it showed an amazing talent for forgetting the 25% discount code that I got at the store.

So here’s what to do: pick out your DVDs and Blu-rays, and use the promo code 25PV. Make sure the code discount is being applied at every stage, because it will try to forget, the sneaky devil. After you’ve finished the transaction, go back in and edit your account. Delete your address entry so no one else can accidentally stumble on your personal information, Google map your house, and send ninjas to purloin your hard-won Blu-ray movies. My picks: Hellboy 2, The Simpsons Movie, and the Swedish vampire rework called Let the Right One In, which was a big hit at the last Fantastic Fest.


Today’s Prose Poem

A Bit of Marketing Writing

Writing about a light is today’s little gem. I bring you a prose poem by the good, if perhaps inebriated, people behind “Safety Warning Flashing Lamp”:

Especially for the children,

blind men

old men

in the morning

or evening

and the cloudy


when the bright is

not enough,

to increase

more safety.



Austin Game Tester, Part II

New Game Tester Job

We’ve got an urgent call for game testers to work at Bioware, one of the best studios in Austin.

“We are looking for 20 Game testers for Bioware. We need to hire them by Friday. There are onsite interview on this Friday for this job in our office and start on Monday 04/19 of next week.

“We need resumes with good game testing experience on Online MMOs. I need your Word resume and the cover letter elaborating your experience in the Game Testing-Online MMO game testing, games you have tested, your QA experience/skills etc. I would be happy to schedule your interview.

“The rate is $10/hr on W2. The start date is 04/19. (Work location- Domain Mall- North East Austin)”

The interview is Friday 12pm-5pm at 12007, N Research Blvd, Suite 103, Austin, TX 78759 (the Volt offices). If you’re interested please contact Manisha, mlele AT – don’t email us! And don’t go to the interview sessions without contacting Manisha first.

BUT if you do land this tasty game tester job, please let us know! It sounds like a good opportunity for the right people.


Game Designers Actually Write?

game-designer-writerGame Writers Aren’t the Only Developers Who Need Writing Skills

“Game designer” is an oft-misunderstood label that, like all labels, sometimes fails completely in describing the variety and depth of tasks tackled by the many talented people who fall into this bucket. Many times game consumers and friends have told me they thought game designers were the people who put faces on avatars and choose the colors for game environments. (I believe the confusion stems from the word “designer,” which evokes “graphic designer” and all things visual.)

Perhaps it’s a related consequence that few non-developers understand how much writing figures into the workload of a good game designer. Randy Smith’s latest blog at the excellent British game publication Edge Online addresses this, and the oxymoronic way in which we are often forced clumsily to use words to describe the indescribable. It’s a little-known fact that game job postings for designers specifically ask for English degrees. A game designer must be an idea generator, but she must also be an idea communicator. If a game designer can’t draw a vivid picture of her concept with words and the occasional diagram*, she can’t expect her teammates to bring that vision to life using often-recalcitrant tools and code.

* And yes, a good game designer needs the ability to use art tools to communicate visually as well as verbally.


Game Design Tips from Jordan Mechner

Game design pointers don’t get any better than when they come from Jordan Mechner, the man who designed Prince of Persia, The Last Express, and one of the main reasons I became a game designer, the elegant and stylish Karateka.

Here’s his blog on story-based game design. Today I’m giving props to design tip #6: “The more the player feels that the events of the game are being caused by his own actions, the better — even when this is an illusion.”

And yes, the new Prince of Persia movie looks promising. They scored Jake Gyllenhaal, Alfred Molina, and Ben Kingsley on the cast. It’s helmed by Mike Newell, whose resume is a lot more balanced than, say, Michael Bay’s (Newell’s work includes Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Love in the Time of Cholera, and the indie darling Four Weddings and a Funeral).