I probably should not be blogging while watching Psych Week, but I just cannot bring myself to change the channel. The show playing currently is about a little girl with schizophrenia and the next show is an update on that family, but with a twist in that the little girl’s younger brother is showing the same signs. My normal description of shows like ‘Hoarders’, ‘My Strange Addiction’, and any pawn or towing show is that it is “like a train wreck; I cannot look away”, but truthfully that can be a bit cruel. When discussing Psych Week specifically, we are given an insider’s view into medical, mental, and emotional abnormalities in real human beings that are separated from us only by those differences. That can be humbling.
I saved this topic – which has absolutely nothing to do with Psych Week – and, looking back on this week, should likely have just blogged when it was on my mind. Sunday blog habit or no, sometimes I need to get thoughts out there and I need to make sure my schedule is not restricting me from posting whenever I feel like it. Either way, it is Sunday and I am blogging. The topic today is Blizzard Entertainment and return readers will note that the topic is not a new one. Most know of my attempt to secure an internship and of my aspirations of working there. I make no secret of my love for the games or for the company.
Growing up with Blizzard was not a definitive marker for my passion for games or imagination, but it is comforting to note that, in one form or another, they have been there with me from the start. From Silicon & Synapse in 1991 to Blizzard Entertainment’s May 15th release of Diablo 3, they have touched my entertainment needs steadily since I was eight or nine years old. It was no surprise to me or anyone that knows me that I chose Blizzard as my dream company for a job after my time in the Army.
One of my favorite courses at Full Sail University was my Business Ethics class. The reason this is relevant is because of an exercise in which we read and analyzed mission statements, values, and public images of some major companies. We did not cover Blizzard Entertainment much in this class, but in every assignment and exercise I naturally thought back to how the lesson related to Blizzard. Having used the company for every project, in every course that I could, I felt comfortable applying whatever lesson was being taught to make it relevant to what was important to me.
In a degree program flooded with students passionate about music, it was hard to make sure the instructors steered away from the music-related lessons just enough to keep the gamer in me intrigued.
Blizzard’s mission statement is simple enough, but it illustrates exactly where their passions are. “Dedicated to creating the most epic entertainment experiences… ever.” We looked at many different mission statements in my Business Ethics class that day, but none were as short and sweet as that. The mission statement structure that is accepted in most companies is not present.
Who is your audience? What are you about? How will they benefit from using your product? How will they measure their happiness with your company? Blizzard did not need to create a paragraph promising products and happiness and benefits based on the answers to these questions. They said it as simply and as straightforward as they could while leaving zero doubt to their passion or direction.
“…Most epic… ever”. That is it.
Blizzard also maintains Eight Core Values. Every company – and person, if you really think about it – needs to have a set of values to guide them. Maybe these values are based on experience, or religion, or lessons from other sources – Boy/ Girl Scouts, martial arts, military. The point is that there must be something guiding the decisions, the public image, and the general ethics of an entity, especially one that leads like Blizzard Entertainment does.
Listed here are the Eight Core Values and my interpretation of them. Most are soldier-proof in that they speak for themselves with little room for interpreting, but each person is an individual and might see them differently.
- Gameplay first.
- Commit to quality.
- Play nice; play fair.
- Embrace your inner geek.
- Every voice matters.
- Think globally.
- Lead responsibly.
- Learn & grow.
The first value is easy. Blizzard Entertainment is a gaming company. Even though their transmedia is strong in books, trading card and board games, action figures, apparel, and gaming peripherals – most of these licensed to other creators – their base is in the games. That is where their love stays and where the true effort is placed. They want the players to come for the games, and stay because the gameplay is worthy.
Committing to quality is pivotal in maintaining the “Gameplay first” value. Great games require excellent quality and constant monitoring to nurture them into something great. For the customers, a lack of quality would be noticeable and crippling for each of the other values.
It is impossible to create a game without an element of competition. There might not be organized teams, skirmishes, or ranking ladders, but players will always find a way to compete. With this in mind, Blizzard has made sure that, as an advocate of the gameplay, they will embody the image they would want their players to portray. A scary thing for a famous person or a popular company is a customer doing negative things in the name of that entity. By living the image, Blizzard hopes that the customers will see the example and uphold it.
Blizzard is run by geeks. Often a derogatory term, I define “geek” as a badge denoting passion for something. Maybe it is video games, maybe it is Star Wars or Star Trek, maybe comic books, or some other misunderstood hobby that drives and motivates a person, but a “geek” is someone who has embraced the things they love and allows the thrill to shine through. Embracing the geek is about accepting what excites you and making your inner geek the outer you.
Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo were not born from the mind of one person. Acknowledging the input of every person is important for the growth of a company. Allowing members from the bottom to the top of the pyramid to voice their opinion and put their own touch on the product is what shapes it with the element of each individual. It also leads to some amazing Easter eggs in the games, like Dev Hell in Diablo 3.
Thinking globally is important in a world where communication is nearly instant and public image can be spread with the push of a button. Blizzard knows that they have an impact on the entertainment world and this core value is almost like a promise that they will not tarnish this impact.
I did multiple projects on Blizzard Entertainment, like I said before, and I note in almost all of them that Blizzard constantly breaks records – usually records they have set with previous games. Being a leader in the gaming industry means they are in the spotlight. As such, there is the constant risk of scrutiny. My grandmother always said not to do anything in private if it would embarrass me in public. It might be a convoluted way of looking at things, but I know I never picked my nose again after she taught me that lesson.
Learning and growing is necessary in a world like ours. My generation has grown up with the Internet, technology, video games, and so much more. Blizzard Entertainment did not get to the position they are currently in by being unable to adapt to the changes where they were applicable. When technology changes, the way we devour that technology also changes. Blizzard is ready to adapt and will learn lessons from their mistakes and successes, along with the mistakes and success of other companies.
So why discuss Blizzard and the Eight Core Values? Short of an elementary school “What the Eight Core Values Mean to Me” essay, I wanted d to consider how I would fit into that environment and how I might uphold those values if I do not already. I know the answers to these questions already, but I fear a 1400-word blog is daunting enough for new readers. Comparisons between Blizzard’s Eight Core Values, and values I learned from martial arts and a military background will come next week.
Happy reading, ladies and gentlemen.