« Adventures in Faxing | Main | And the Good News Is... »

October 27, 2005


Billy Zelsnack

I probably would of flipped out too.

Activision is stepping out of their bounds here IMO.

It's like going to Best Buy and when the guy at the door asks if he can have a look in your bag. Well.. He asked and that is what makes it 'legal.' You can tell him to just piss off, but most people don't. (I usually do, but you probably would of already guessed that) He could just as well ask if he can have a look down your pants.


"Anyhow, just how the hell am I going to learn this *Crucial Conversations* stuff?"
I believe the way it works is that you can now recognise your mistakes, and thus just not do those things again. Get into lots of conversations perhaps?

Obi Busta Nobi

Why would Activision be your first choice as far as publishers to work with? Seems a little masochistic in light of the way they're treating you.

IMO I think Activision is just trying to protect itself and it could care less (legally speaking)on how you "feel." The tricky part is not letting their protecting their trade secrets get in the way of you maintaining a relationship with them, if that's what you're choosing to do. The old "don't burn bridges" I think applies here.

I did find it a little odd that they called you on this issue. I would have imagined it best if they would have sent you a letter asking you to refrain from said activities. It would have been more professional and possibly would have averted a confrontation with you. If mail was too slow, why not an email? Calling I think was a BIG mistake on whoever it was from Activision.


My new office is directly next door to the management offices; I have learned lots of fun stuff along these lines.

Activision called you, not to be evil and horrible and intrusive, but because they believed they were giving you a personal, friendly, heads-up approach. Remember, in a corporation, everything leaves a paper trail, and any written correspondence would end up in a file somewhere, ready to pop out at the worst possible moment.

Like in the middle of negotiations to publish your next title (which I am sure The Boy will play as excessively as he plays Spiderman 2), clutched in the grubby paws of an accountant.

Activision is evidently concerned that connecting friends to job titles to skills will: a) create a deluge of resumes carefully written and padded to highlight those skills from people not necessarily as qualified as preferred who believe they could pick up or be taught those skills on the job; b) create an easily available talent pool for head hunters; c) give subtle hints for the direction and style of upcoming titles; d) be a subtle method for you to headhunt within Activision; and e) perhaps clue the assorted friends in as to their true worth (and monetary value) to the company.

As far as learning the "crucial conversation" stuff -- ugh. Trial and error.

Identify any emotional response and choke it off.

Be as concise and to the point as possible; the idea is to give them enough to force them to ask questions, not provide an excess of information.

Replace all personality, flavor and idiosyncrasies with corporate-speak ("$$%^ing idiot" = "identified training issues").

The list goes on, but you get the idea.

"Know your enemy" -- great advice for all front-of-house business-related activities.


I find that a lot of companies in the games industry are way too paranoid when it comes to secrecy. The attitude seems to be that if some informations doesn't absolutely have to be public, then it should be confidential. This attitude seems very negative to me: it cuts useful exchange of knowledge with no material benefit.

Sure, Activision may be worried that headhunters could get some of their employees. But if nobody can talk about their skillset or those of others publicly in any company, then Activision can't do the same to other companies either. Moreover you end up with an industry in which nobody really knows who's good and who's not and where knowledge doesn't flow.


Actually, I think you did right. It was an outrageous request, and outrage was the appropriate response.


If a coworker from Treyarch, rather than you, went to a different development studio and they said "We're really happy with your work. We're thinking of doing something creatively on par with the swinging in Spidey. Did you know the guy who did that? Is he good to work with?" Would you want him to think of what was good for Activision, or you? (And honestly, which do you think he'd do?)

Sure, most people say "Okay, I'll try not to say anything. You guys did treat me good." And even when that's true, what you 'said' is exactly what everyone actually 'does.' So don't beat yourself up too hard over being honest.

And as a side-note, in what other mediums do people hide their talents? It's insanity.


Hmm Activision didn't want you to mention them and you wanted to mention them. Classic conflict of interests! Why can't we all just happily get along? :)

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

Jamie's Bragging Rights

  • Spider-Man 2
    The best superhero games of all time Game Informer
    Top five games of all time Yahtzee Croshaw
    Top five superhero games of all time MSNBC
    Top 100 PS2 games of all time Official Playstation 2 Magazine
    1001 Games You Must Play Before You Die Nomination for Excellence in Gameplay Engineering Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences
  • Schizoid
    Penny Arcade PAX 10 Award
    Nominated for XBLA Best Original Game
    Nominated for XBLA Best Co-Op Game