Sunday, October 26, 2014

PS4 versus Xbox One

While I firmly believe in the power of social endorsements, and the role of word of mouth in the decision-making process, I've always been rather sceptical of my own influence in regards to most things online (I actually state that I am not an influencer in my twitter bio, which probably explains why I don't get invited to product launches). 

I get asked a lot about PS4 vs Xbox One and although I am often very diplomatic, I feel myself being drawn to one camp. I've been a passionate Xbox 360 advocate since getting the console 8 years ago, and I expected the allegiance to extend to this generation... but it hasn't. Here's why I think you should consider the PS4 this time around.


*Before I go into my list, I need to state that multiplatform games sometimes perform marginally better on PS4, but since this is only noticeable if you really look for it (and have both versions running side by side), I am excluding it as a factor. Also - tech specs don't mean much if it doesn't translate into great gameplay experiences.

Also - this is a lot like the Islamic concept of Istikharah - if you lean a certain way, then it doesn't matter what I say, you should get the console you want.. this is more for the neutrals.

1) The PS4 has been around for longer.
You could argue that the Xbox One and PS4 have had similar launch dates overseas, but the PS4 launched locally within weeks of its other launches and this endeared it to me. It also means that we've had a year to build a... 

2) Thriving second hand market 
I refuse to pay 800 rand for a video game. Luckily, the PS4 has had enough time to build a decent user base, and with this, comes a ton of second hand titles for people like me. This is an important point if you're happy to wait a little before getting a game. There is a thriving swapping community on Gumtree too.

3) Less dependence on internet access 
I was at BT Games last week and overheard a parent telling their child that they can't get the Xbox One as it needs to be online all the time. Microsoft have retracted that decision, but clearly they haven't done a good enough job telling people (especially since the BT Games chap was like 'yeah, you have to be online). I'm assuming most people who buy a next gen console have internet access, but surely this access differs (not all of us have uncapped broadband). I use mobile data so there's no way i'm getting a console with a 40gb game download, or a mandatory install before you can even play a game. 

4) Better exclusives
This is very subjective as different franchises appeal to different people, but I've found  that the PS4 has better exclusives (from a review perspective). With Uncharted, Little Big Planet 3 and The Order around the corner, it seems to be winning (but again, this is subjective). Here's hoping for a 'Ratchet and Clank' and 'God of War' title. I do think Ori and the blind forest will be amazing (that is an Xbox One exclusive).

5) Better Marketing/ positioning


I'm not too big on the Xbox One being touted as a media centre. I want a gaming console that can do media, and not a media centre that can also play games (if that makes any sense). The media features feel US centric, and while I'm hoping that changes (

It would be unfair to exclude the areas where the Xbox One shines, so let's cover them:

1) The controller
The Xbox One controller is a thing of beauty, and while the Dual shock 4 isn't as bad as the Dual Shock 3, Microsoft's controller wins hands down. Also, a second controller doesn't cost the same as 3 months installment on a Tata Indica so that's a plus. A major problem with the PS4 is that the analogue sticks' peels (Ster Kinekor is aware of this and I think they sort it out - probably with replacement grips). 

2) The Xbox One interface is better
It feels modern and bursting with options. The PS feels simple and uneventful in comparison.

3)  Xbox in SA is still a little rebellious and against the norm, which means it is slightly elitist and cool.

4) Digital Games are cheaper on Xbox One
While we all hope Playstation reconsiders the price of digital downloads, this is less of an issue for me as I prefer physical copies of a game (due to limited mobile data... and because I want to sell it after I'm done!).

5) Xbox Live is also a superior offering
Something to consider if you are big into multiplayer. 

In a perfect world you would own one of them as your primary console, have a Wii U as your second (because Nintendo actually have the best exclusives) and get the other after a few years, instead of having a child. But if you were really stuck, and my points resonate with you, then get a PS4.

I find both the Playstation Eye as well as the Kinect to be gimmicky at best, and while I always have fun using these peripherals when my niblings come over, it is at its best, a party trick. 

MJ

Whenever I write about stuff that has fanboys, I have to state the obvious.. this is my opinion. Mine alone. You're welcome to challenge me on any point I have made and I will listen, I am very open to unlearning / changing my mind, but do respect that this is my opinion. 

btw - If you can get a Wii U at a great price (second hand), then consider it because the exclusives are fantastic (Super Mario 3D World, Wind Waker HD, Donkey Kong, Mario Kart etc are all great fun. Don't touch Zombi U - it's a piece of shit).


Monday, October 20, 2014

Concerning Chicky Lamba

With a police investigation underway and one person arrested, the #chickylamba incident has taken a serious turn. The viral video and it’s accompanying meme may have provided many laughs for South Africa in general and Muslim Twitter in particular but there are some serious lessons to be learned from this.

1. The assault on Aadil ‘Braazo’ Cassim needs to be condemned in the strongest terms. Also, while it is a serious offence to threaten someone with a weapon, our criticism should also include the slaps. Perhaps we are conditioned to believe that a few smacks here and there are part and parcel of the status quo or that it can be written-off as a business expense claim for communicating with someone, but it isn’t. I fear that in all the parody, we have lost sight of the fact that we have witnessed an assault.

2. We should be making a bigger deal about Shakeel Cassim (aka Chicky Lamba) claiming that his fiancé is his property. Is she like an expensive watch you remove to eliminate wind-drag from the forward momentum of a slap? Two grown men fighting over a grown woman this way is a bit last century. Can we please confront people who have this type of mentality? Without throwing them in the bush that is.

3. The name-dropping employed here harkens to an earlier era and reminded me of the idea of a ‘back-stop’. I didn’t know it was still a thing to prop yourself up by who you know with an “I am because he is” sort of vibe. It’s a very twisted sense of ubuntu, really. I imagine there’s a thug-like equivalent of LinkedIn where Ahmed Amiski endorses Ziyaad Janoo for being a desperado.

4. The ubiquity of connected devices, instant messaging services and social sharing platforms will continue to lead the way in which we consume content. FOMO is increasingly becoming a key driver for this consumption.
The most interesting about the Chicky Lamba incident is that we are sharing it in an almost rebellious fashion, as if to say, “We aren’t bothered by your status, title and long list of supposedly shady associates.” But infamy comes at a price. Chicky Lamba and his band of desperados, with their newfound cult-status, now have permanent online tattoos that can never be retracted, covered-up or removed. Their SEO rankings have been severely compromised (just try hiding this from Google). Hopefully this will serve as a reminder to other aspiring delinquents that this sort of behaviour isn’t cool or laudable.

MJ

p.s I have not checked with Keds or Memon before publishing this piece. 
p.p.s I don't know whether Amiski actually endorses any of this behaviour

Monday, September 22, 2014

Kings and Queens of Comedy 2014

I'l be attending the Kings and Queens of comedy tomorrow night. I tend to not consume a lot of comedy (I have a fear of picking up someone's material and unwittingly using it). Also, I  stick to what I know, so I will look out for Jimmy Carr, Riaad Moosa, Loyiso Gola and other comedians I enjoy, but I rarely support comedians I've never heard off... which makes tomorrow quite exciting.

Local hitters, Kagiso Lediga, Tumi Morake, Tshepo Mogale, Chester Missing and Conrad Koch, will be joined by a slew of afropolitan acts including David 'this place is shit loy' Kibuuka and a few others. Going to cheer for the Malawian chap ..mostly because i'm so used to hearing Malawian jokes from local chaps.  
I have no idea who this dude is - he looks like he could be an extra in Spud:the later years. 

I'm not a big fan of race related humour, especially when acts put on accent - it is often patronising and 'all and all and all' (what does that even mean?). What do you think? I'l post this on Facebook as well and do a follow-up with people's comments. 

There are a few tickets available (you can buy them here), and since Wednesday is a public holiday, staying out a little late shouldn't be an issue. Unless you have strict parents who are scared of Jinns that come out at Maghrib time..then I can't help. 

MJ

Thursday, September 18, 2014

5 reasons why brands should follow back on twitter

I did my first social media course in 2009. I can't remember the name of the instructor in the videos, suffice to say, social media marketing was still relatively new and was being heralded as a panacea for brands. I've always been sceptical about drinking the kool-aid (whether I was working as a strategist at a boutique (read: small) agency or as a copywriter at a local community radio station) so I approached this new form of marketing with the same pragmatism I'd use with someone trying to sell me TopTV.

 The reason for this context is because something stood out for me all those years ago; something I find some social media gurus (or other bullshit titles we give each other) still hold onto today – applying an arbitrary ratio to Twitter’s follow-follower number set. The instructor said that brands should only follow 1 account for every 5 accounts that follow them. I don’t agree with this general rule, and while brands need to be evaluated on a case by case merit, here are 5 reasons why brands should follow back or follow first.

1)  It enhances brand loyalty.
I am less likely to unfollow a brand if that brand follows me. Perhaps its guilt or optimism (that the content will become less spammy/shitty/irrelevant) but I’ve hesitated to unfollow at times because I appreciated the fact that the brand was following me. I am also more likely to engage with a brand that follows me, or ramp up my replies to a brand that I want to ‘notice’ me and follow back.

2) It opens up Direct Messages as a viable communication channel.
Perhaps it is because I’m in the industry and empathise with other social media people that I prefer to complain to a brand via DM, especially if the complaint is of a sensitive nature. When brands follow back, I can use this channel.

 3)  It assists search. 
Brands that follow back come up faster in searches, and appear in ‘followers you know’ and ‘who to follow’ lists when you are scouting out a third party’s profile. Visibility is quite important as social is often premised on relevance. Does help with affinity as well (especially when it comes to brand positioning) 

4    4)  It gives the brand access to their followers thoughts.
By following someone, you are opting-in to receive their thoughts, peeves and opinions (even if it is what people project themselves to be). Yes, you don’t have to follow someone to read their thoughts (provided their account is public) but that is laborious. Social’s differentiator is that it is two-way communication so why treat it as just a broadcast channel? If the brand’s sum total of its twitter engagement was only based on responding to people who @mentioned the brand first, then they are still stuck in the basics of social media.

5)  It imbues status. As sceptical as I tell people I am (in blogposts that are longer than they should be), I get chuffed when my role models follow me back. I remember when Riaad Moosa followed me back, I was like ‘now I can tick that off a very sad bucket list’. Following back is a great way to reward brand advocates. I work on some cool brands, and I sometimes forget that while I may be a little jaded, it may mean a ton to others when a brand follows them back. Now if only Hashim Amla and Rockstar Games wouldn’t be so coy and follow me back too!


I’m always keen to chat about social media and my experiences (all of my failures) over the years, so hit me up on the Twitter! and let me know what you think about this piece. 

MJ


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Metrosexual Muslims Eid Morning

….The night consumes most of the sound. Somewhere down the road, an emasculated man ‘red-lines’ his VW city Golf. The tyres screech on the tar, scarring it, like a black crayon on a rain cloud. Somewhere in a small suburb in Durban, a cellular phone alarm rings. A cacophonmy of xylophones. Asif grumbles, as he blindly swats around to impeach the annoying sound, vowing to himself to replace Gotye's one-hit wonder as his alarm-tone.

The phone lies on his dressing table, nestled between the men’s health and his topi. It’s on charge – undoubtedly due to all the battery draining 'eid-mubaruk' whatsapp messages he got the night before (but mostly because it is an iPhone). He scrambles to turn it off- its three thirty in the morning – and the house is asleep. ‘Gosh’, he exclaimed- ‘only two hours to get ready for Fajr’. Asif runs to the bathroom. ‘So many choices, so many choices. Do I rinse once then condition or just use a two in one? The organics has a nice smell, but the head and shoulders give me volume, which is vital, but I’m wearing a topi, so I don’t need volume… decisions, decisions’.

Asif’s shower rack resembled his mothers spice rack, except that instead of an assortment of turmeric, jeera (whatever that is), and elachi,  he had cosmetics (which may or may not have had some of those spices in them - especially the yellow one which is supposed to make you fairer). He surveyed his nails proudly and thought to himself, ‘the guy reading Salaat next to me had the grossest nails. Half bitten, filthy. When he raised his finger for tashahud I felt like dying, like it was gonna jump out and attack me’. As he reached for his loofah, he realized that his shower gel had finished. Asif was horrified- he had read in Cosmo that normal soap dries out your skin- the sacrifices a young Muslim boy has to endure. Meanwhile, next door, Zakaria was sleeping, dreaming of watching some of the soccer matches he taped in Ramadan because his dad didn’t allow him to watch (actually it was his mum, his dad just seemed to agree with whatever his mum said). Asif emerged out of the shower half an hour later. He scanned the mirror instantly, looking for telltale signs of dried skin (he had watched a national discovery channel special on tortoises the week before) ‘Why didn’t I buy shower gel’ he bemoaned as he tilted his body to the left.

If his shower rack resembled a spice cupboard, surely his dressing table resembled a chemical warehouse in Iraq before the U.N inspectors popped in. Moisturizers, of all sizes and aromas. Cream to remove lines from the eyes. Sticky pieces of paper to eliminate blackheads. Asif had his routine down to the last scrub. ‘Half an hour to fajr- where is my toner? And I have to moisturize as well, some uncle is going to dab some foul smelling Attar on my hands, I just know it. I don’t mind the nice smelling ones, but the strong black stuff that stays on your hand for three days and smells like an old Kitaab is just so not cool. Next Door, Zakaria's father knocks on his door briskly, ‘Son, wake up, I need the Musallahs, we going for the Springfield Eid Gah and those mats are like sandpaper’.

A combination of hair mousse, salon gel and hair putty (that thing in a can that gives you the ‘just woke up look’) is applied mutinously to Asif’s scalp – These days it would seem that its harder to achieve a disheveled look as opposed to brushing neatly. Wardrobe choices stump poor Asif. He contemplates a black Kurtah with a white topi, or a White Kurtah with a gray Topi. ‘But I don’t have any shoes to match the white Kurtah, if I wear the grey topi, even though no one will see my shoes in the mosque, someones bound to notice when I’m outside. No No, Hmm – Eid Gah is gonna be outdoors, the white will look good with the sun rising, better put on a little more sunblock. But first, let me take a selfie...#nur4days. 

The End

Eid Mubaruk

MJ

(originally wrote this 8 years ago - made  a few small tweaks before posting).