Subversive Puppet Show is a blog made by Jason Mical, from Fallout P&P fame. He just ended a three part series of posts about public relations in the world of Web 2.0 and word of mouth, with some interesting thoughts and a few examples from the Fallout 3 scene:
The language used in the post on the Fallout 3 blog is telling: the two reporters / community members were “intrepid ninjas,” and their operation was, in the words of Fallout community manager Matt “Gstaff” Grandstaff, “Very sneaky indeed.” It’s important to note that Brother None, in announcing the interview, doesn’t use language to denote that he was being sneaky at all – but he does note (quite importantly) that while he and the other community member were allowed into a demo, a NMA member who registered as a member of NMA was not.
There’s a lot of things to learn here, not the least of which is: in an information vacuum, community members can go to great lengths to get information being kept from them – and to actively seek out engagement with company representatives. Brother None and the NMA crew were certainly within their rights to do this, just as Bethesda is within their rights to react to it in any way they choose (and it seems that the interview kind of forced Bethesda’s hand on community interaction, which in my opinion is not a bad thing – see an interview with Pete Hines about community for more information.) Another thing that one must keep in mind is that even members of the most traditional media can be bloggers, and what appears on a personal blog is not subject to the same standards as a press site, let alone a traditional media publication. Rather than rattle off a list, I will simply mention that to my knowledge no blogger or community member has been successfully sued for libel or slander over something written on the Internet (feel free to correct me in the comments if I’m wrong, and I’ll update.) Even though a community member may be a reporter (or in my case, a marketing stooge) they’re still community members with opinions, passions and a love for the product.
It’s clear that Bethesda is doing a lot of things right insofar as community interaction. Proof positive of this is their dedicated Fallout Community Manager, Matt “Gstaff” Grandstaff. One of the most impressive online gaming-related campaigns I’ve seen recently was the frenzy whipped up by 2K for BioShock, and I’m not the only one: the Hollywood Reporter did a great article on it.