Monday, June 06, 2005

Mike Wilson: Unplugged


Computer game publisher Michael Wilson sued publishing giant Random House Inc. on May 10, alleging that statements made about him in a book about two gaming industry gurus are false and have damaged his reputation…

At issue in Wilson v. Random House Inc., filed in U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks' court, are statements that Random House published in "Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture," written by David Kushner…

Wilson alleges in the complaint that Random House defamed him when it published statements in the book that, while he was at Ion Storm, "without the owner's knowledge, Wilson had borrowed company money to buy a new BMW." …Wilson says Ion Storm's chief operating officer was aware of the loan and that the company's chief financial officer signed the loan documents…

"There's nothing they could have possibly said that could be more damaging," Wilson says in an interview, noting that he's trying to raise money for a new video game publishing company, Gamecock Media Group. "This is an industry publication read almost exclusively by my peers in the industry," he says…Wilson also alleges that he sustained special damages as a result of being harmed in his business interests, in his reputation and standing in the community and "has suffered shame, humiliation and mental anguish."

The lawsuit seeks damages of fifty million dollars.

Oh my.

And now, a story. It’s a wise story, passed down through generations, and I’m happy to share it with you, Mike.

An old man is sitting in a bar in Scotland when a stranger walks in. “Hello, lad,” says the old man. “I’ve never seen you in here before.”

“My name’s Angus the Carpenter,” says the stranger, shaking the old man’s hand. “I’m thinking about staying here for a while. Can you tell me anything about the town?”

“I’ll tell you something about this town, laddy,” said the old man bitterly. “Did you see the church on the way into town? I built that with my own two hands. Every single board and beam. But do they call me Duncan the Church Builder? No. I built the stone fence that runs along the main road. I carried every single stone from the quarry. But do they call me Duncan the Fence Builder? No. I was mayor of this town for twenty years. But do they call me Duncan the Mayor? No.”

The old man looks around, then lowers his voice. “But you *uck one goat…”

Daikatana is your goat, Mike. Not getting hired because you allegedly “borrowed” thirty thousand for a month? With your budget, that was tip money for the pizza boy. Nobody cares. What they care about is spending thirty million dollars for a shitty Quake II mod that sold 20,000 copies. Sure, you weren’t even around when the game finally shipped, but with the turnover at Ion Storm, who was?

After you left Ion Storm, you founded Gathering of Developers--with your characteristic modesty, GOD—and to your credit, shipped some excellent games.

I won’t mention the Jazz Jackrabbit series.

It’s funny, though—even though GOD shipped some big hits (Poptop, mostly, because Phil Steinmeyer’s a genius), you guys ran out of money (22.5 million) in two years. But that special lot at E3 with the midgets and pole dancers and transvestites was really something. Sure, it cost some coin, but it proved your point: you’ve definitely got the vision thing.

Don’t worry. I’m not forgetting your big day. On April 2, 2001, you wrote a hilarious .plan update about how Ion Storm was really just a big joke that was played on Eidos. Classic! Here’s an excerpt
“Mike Wilson Talks Ion Storm”):
Well... the rest is history. I left id, became CEO of Ion, and one year and about 18 million dollars later, the joke was STILL GOING. No games, no milestones... NOTHING! And they just kept paying! For laughs, we added a 4th team down in Austin, and even started development on Daikatana 2 when Daikatana one was... well, you know. AND THEY JUST KEPT PAYING.

Now that is screamingly funny—take a company for thirty million and give them a goat. Well, I guess it’s funny to the people who got the money. The people who paid the money, and got the goat, might be a little pissed off. Everybody needs a hobby, though, and it seems like burning bridges is yours.

People grow and change, though, and I know that you must have, since you’re apparently struggling with the “shame, humiliation, and mental anguish” caused by the allegedly libelous statements. Maybe a more recent review would be more reflective of the new, sensitive you.

Here are some excerpts from an interview you gave to Game Week just last year
Even the top independent developers that are still out there seem to still be getting shoved around like barefoot hookers…

Well, judging by the rest of the entertainment industries, and consumer marketing in general, it seems that boobs will be king for some time to come. Try as we might, man just can’t seem to come up with anything more interesting that a nice pair of full perkies to associate our wares with...

I had no idea until I joined the games industry and met some of the power players, particularly those running large public companies, that much of this world is run by complete clowns…

“Barefoot hookers?” “A nice pair of full perkies?” How old are you—twelve? And I can’t imagine the gaming industry not hiring you after that “complete clowns” reference. Dude, you should sue yourself for fifty million dollars for libel.

I can’t imagine anyone remembering any of that, though, when you’re trying to get funding for your new company—Gamecock Media Group.

Gamecock? At least you got it half right.

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