Our Night on the Town

i tore myself away from long development hours on codename: Fingerprints to attend a pre-Game Developers’ Conference social mixer last night. It was thrown by the OMDC (Ontario Muskrat Defense Consortium), who dole out the government cash for approved media projects. The event was for companies headed to the conference in San Francisco at the end of the month. It was a reasonably quiet and pleasant joint, without any of the “kickin’ bass” that makes industry parties unbearable for me in my supreme old age. i made the mistake of downing a few too many triangles of flatbread spread with a sociability-killing garlic sauce, and watched everybody’s eyelashes wilt when i breathed on them. Otherwise, it was a good time.

Breathing Fire

Yikes, Ryan. Need a mint?

i’m quite happy with the degree of coddling the Canadian government is doing to ensure that Canuck companies – particularly small start-ups like Untold Entertainment – fare well at GDC 09. Last week, the feds put on a GDC prep camp. A half-dozen speakers were simulcast between the Toronto and Montreal offices in a somewhat awkward setup, preaching about presentation skills, tax breaks, PR and marketing, and a social subtleties of Southeast Asian business meetings:

  1. When you accept a Japanese person’s business card, take it with both hands
  2. Look at it respectfully for exactly three seconds
  3. DO NOT put it in your pocket – instead, leave it on the table or on your lap
  4. Never write on a Japanese person’s business card
  5. If you break any of these rules, immediately locate a katana blade. Place it at your navel, and drive it deep into your stomach. It is the only way.
  6. If you cannot find a suitable blade, head directly for your robotic lion. Find the other members of your team, and unite to form Voltron. Defend your company’s honour by firing laser cannons from the giant robot’s mouth and fingertips.
  7. Bow politely.


Astroboy demands that you respect polite business practices.

What’s the Opposite of Alliance?

On the way through the bar, i had to elbow past a wall of Alliance Atlantis folks, some of whom i knew from back in the day. They were having a farewell party for an outgoing colleague. i spoke with them briefly, and picked up on an odd mood. Alliance is owned by Canwest, Canada’s largest media conglomorate, which is drowning in 5 kajillion dollars of debt. While my wife and i still struggle to pay off her student loan, i guess it’s comforting knowing that someone has it worse than you: 3.7 billion dollars worse, to be precise.

So it was strange to me that they would have a shindig for someone, when they could all be chopped by Canada’s largest axe in reasonably short order – kinda like a group of Titanic passengers putting one guy on a lifeboat and toasting him as he floats off into the Atlantic, wishing him the best of luck. Regardless, if the Canwest ship goes down, there will be a major media shake-up around here. i won’t even begin to pretend that i understand it. i will say that it’s a very interesting time to be alive in Canadian media.

3 thoughts on “Our Night on the Town

  1. Ryan

    P.S. Big-ups to Jean-guy Niquet from Decode, who wins my pick for “Favourite New Person What I Met at a Social Functionation”. (i threw that in there to see if he’s tracking Google Alerts on his own name :)

  2. Rob Segal

    You’re summary of dealing with Japanese contacts is spot on Ryan. While working at 3DNA (http://www.3dna.net) we worked with a Japanese company and when we met them it was exactly like you listed. Lots of rules, very formal. In the end that formality unfortunately soured our relationship with them and probably contributed to 3DNA’s demise. One’s patience is definitely tested.

  3. Ryan

    i’m pretty surprised at this. The one tip i heard that i didn’t list was “Don’t bow, because you’ll get it wrong.” Conventional wisdom says that you’ll likely bow at the wrong time and either embarrass yourself, or worse, strain your relationship with the Japanese client.

    i’m surprised, because i’d like to think that if we as Canadians had similarly strict business practices (like a welcoming headbutt, or a pat on the bum after a deal is signed), that we’d be a little more forgiving of international partners who slipped up every once in a while, or who didn’t play well by our business rules. i guess what i’m saying is that i’m surprised at my perceived lack of grace on the part of the Japanese.


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