Saturday, April 5, 2008

Latest News

My Latest News

It's been a pretty relaxing Friday. The semester's almost finished (about time!), and my homework load is slowly diminishing. I went through a run-through of a big presentation on Chinese - Japanese relations earlier today, 10 minutes long in Chinese. Hey, it's hard enough to study that stuff in English, let alone a foreign language -- try teaching it to natives in their language for 10 minutes. Luckily, I don't have to give the final presentation for a week and a half.

Anyway, to celebrate my wife and I had a Korean night. We had dinner at a little Korean restaurant near Center Street here in Provo. It's hard to find good Asian food anywhere in Utah, not to mention little University towns like Provo, but it wasn't all that bad. We then relaxed and watched a Korean love film, Love So Divine (신부수업, or 神父教育 in Chinese), subtitled in both
English and Chinese. It was pretty good. Not quite My Sassy Girl, but good for a few laughs. There were a few baseball references, too, including a poorly staged ballpark scene. Anyway, all in all it's been a pretty good day.
That's what's new in my life. I don't know if I'll do much updating on this blog this weekend, since I've got to work on a big 10 page paper on China's economic growth (thankfully in English). That, and I have to translate into English a 9 page paper I wrote last semester in Chinese. It never ends!

League News

I finally finished transferring the 1934 and 1941 schedules into my league. Action will start with one game on Monday, April 14th. I'm not going to get done with the team previews by that time. Those will come slowly, one by one, since it takes a long time to put those together (over a half hour each!). But don't worry -- it'll get done. I'll try to play my league in "real time," making sure that each league day corresponds directly to a day in real life. That may be difficult, however, since we're moving to Nanjing, China in the middle of August. We'll figure something out.

I'll probably post game results to the Diamond Mind Yuku forum as well as this blog. My chief motivation is worry that I won't be able to post to this blog once we're behind the "Great Firewall of China". There's no telling when a site like this will suddenly become unavailable, and it's difficult to tell if it's available there now. But that's a long way in the future.

Growth of Diamond Mind

I've been meaning to write on this subject for over two weeks now, but have never had the chance. My regular readers (all 12 of you!) know that I've been posting old APBA and Strat-O-Matic advertisements from time to time. I stumble across such relics fairly often in my spare time, usually while browsing through old Sporting News articles or kicking back with scans of old comic books. The thing that's most interesting to me, though, is that there were such professional, well-thought ads promoting those baseball simulations, something which is sorely lacking today.

There's been a lot of controversy over at the Diamond Mind forums (especially the Delphi ones) about the future of the company. I don't want to get into the politics of whether Dayne's takeover was beneficial, or whether Diamond Mind will become neglected in the shadow of Simnasium. Honestly, after experiencing the post-Seitz fall of APBA, I've learned not to put so much faith and hope in the future of a single mom-and-pop company. If it fails, we all go somewhere else for our baseball kicks. However, one thing that I do worry about is general lack of interest in games such as Diamond Mind. If nobody my age plays these simulations, it's a safe bet to say that nobody's going to maintain these games when I'm 40, 50 or 60.

I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but at some point in time the big simulation companies simply stopped advertising in print. I haven't seen an APBA ad in a single sports publication for over a decade, not since the old Baseball for Windows ads in PC Gamer magazine in the early 1990s. I remember seeing Diamond Mind advertisements in old Baseball Weekly magazines from 6 or 7 years back, but those have completely disappeared. And does anybody know of a single comic willing to run an ad for Strat? I may not be a marketing expert, but I have a hard time understanding how these companies expect to grow (or do anything but stagnate) with absolutely no advertising.

My dad started playing APBA Football after reading a long, color, two-sided ad in an early 1970s Sporting News. This was more than the "Be a big league manager!" byline on the ads I posted a few days ago. This ad (I've read it myself) gave a fairly comprehensive overview of how the game worked, of the concept of statistical accuracy in sports simulations, and even showed examples of cards and boards. My dad must have been impressed by the scientific approach to the sport, if not the professionalism of the ad. And his experience was not unique. I've read dozens upon dozens of similar experiences young "gamers" had when they were teenagers in the 60s, 70s and 80s.

I guess part of the problem is that there's no central Sporting News-esque publication for budding sports maniacs to wean on. Still, there must be some way these companies can reach their potential market. If Diamond Mind is going to help ESPN out with a season preview, why not try to get a mention of this on SportsCenter? If sims such as Out Of The Park Baseball really intends on bridging the gap between visually oriented games and text simulators, why not advertise during ESPN2's Madden Bus show? There's simply got to be more these companies can do than set up websites, moderate forums and watch their target market grow old and grey.

I don't buy the argument that kids these days don't care enough for the sports to play these kinds of games. I was a teenager not long ago. I knew kids who spent hundreds of dollars on Magic: The Gathering cards, even after a powerful computer engine was made. Why not spend that money on Strat-O-Matic? I have quite a few friends at school who are sports junkies, who live by ESPN, participate in fantasy sports leagues and attend games during the summer. Can't this market be approached somehow? All I know is that I grew up with video games (played quite a few, too), and I still had enough attention span left to play APBA and DMB. Now, I'm anything but normal, but I know I'm not that abnormal.

Well, we'll see what happens in the future. I just hope that the concept of baseball simulation isn't entirely lost on my generation. When we have people like Bill Staffa, who took a simple card game and made it incredibly accurate, or Robert Bofors, whose testing of homebrew disks allows for incredible accuracy, not to mention Francis Rose, who is working hard to present the entire history of APBA fan innovations at no cost, it would be a shame to see the industry croak and die. I know most of these companies may not be thinking much about growth right now (Diamond Mind, for one, seems to be shrinking), but I sure hope they reconsider. There is a large, untapped market out there, sitting right under our noses.

1 comment:

TedRoethke said...

Lately, I've seen Simnasium(and the DMB Online version) getting its name out there on a number of websites, including those of the companies that have reached deals with Simnasium (or is Imagine Sports? Honestly, I forget which name(s) it goes by now). And the Internet has largely supplanted the old print venues for advertising.

Dayne seems to have a penchant for getting DMB's name in the online sports news (with mentions here and there on ESPN.com, for example; even one in the ESPN mag).

Now, for starters, I would really like to see the stand-alone game get a link and mention on the main DMB (IS?) website, especially since IS (DMB?) is getting its own name out there in ads (and press releases) on various other sites.

Without at least that little step, the stand-alone game hasn't much chance to make inroads into the market of potential new customers.