MANILA, PHILIPPINES — In Rey Tiempo‘s latest conversation with Jia Zheng, VP Creative Strategy at Activision Blizzard, Jia introduced the concept of having a “gaming shaman,” or in her words: “Somebody who understands what you’re into and then handpick some of the games to graduate you into this journey…”
Watch Rey’s full interview with Jia here.
With this, the newest Game On piece features Rey and his adventures with his own gaming shaman, or shamans, to be exact. From advertising colleagues to Gen Z godchildren, he dives deep into his personal journey in marketing and gaming, how the two worlds feed into each other, and the shamans who have guided him along the way, in and out of gaming.
In Rey’s writing below, surprising gaming shaman identities are revealed, a fateful trip to Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity brings him back into the gaming world, and gamers lead the charge in creating the award-winning “The Unbranded Menu” campaign.
My Gaming Shaman was Red Ollero.
Yes, THE Red Ollero of the Comedy Manila fame and the sold out comedy shows, and the endorsements, and the occasional wrestling gigs.
Before Red got into comedy seriously, he was a copywriter. And he was in my team, where I was Creative Director. Imagine that, there was once a time when he was clearing his jokes with me! Now, I watch him with his effortlessly funny material and I feel relieved that he got out of advertising fast enough to NOT inherit my jokes, whew. Thank you, universe!
So it was the year 2012, right at the tail end of the seventh console generation. The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 and the Wii had been getting their best games, with developers making the most of the hardware, but also clearly already preparing for the next gen. But guess what, I almost missed most of this generation!
After having been introduced to video games through the Nintendo Famicom boom, then finding myself smack in the middle of the arcades and Street Fighter II phenomenon, the intense competition between the Genesis and the SNES, right up to the bold new era of the PlayStation and the dominance of the PlayStation 2 (still the best console of all time IMO), somehow… I slowly fell off gaming and got deeply engaged in other kinds of play: playing nightly gigs, forming bands with officemates and friends, spending late nights in overtime doing The Work, The Work, The Work.
Fortunately, it was also because of The Work, The Work, The Work that ultimately led me back to gaming.
After pleasing some advertising gods, and due largely to some dumb luck, my former (work) partner, Mr. Gary Amante (now enjoying huge success as ECD at Dentsu Creative), and I were sent to the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity to represent the agency and to cheer for our work entered in the awards show that year.
So there we were, Cannes Lions neophytes, wide-eyed and taking in everything our still young-ish minds could absorb from the industry’s strong work and even stronger personalities. Inevitably, our senses could only take so much, and we went for a break in one of the lounges sponsored by Microsoft.
We walked past this instant raffle booth setup in one corner, we didn’t even know what it was for or what the prize would be. But after the persistent but kind attendant asked for my Festival ID Tag (every Cannes Lions delegate got one) and scanned it on the touchscreen table, the screen displayed WINNER and next thing I knew, the lady was handing over my prize – a brand new Xbox 360 console with Kinect!
I was shocked, as was everyone else in the lounge! By then, a small crowd had slowly formed around us, curiously eyeing that lucky kid in shorts with the lucky Festival ID Tag, who would be taking home the lucky grand prize – apparently that single Xbox console had proven elusive to all the delegates, yes even more so than the actual Cannes Lions awards being given out that night!
It was awesome that I got to take home a hot (at that time) new game console for free, and from the Cannes Lions Festival, of all places! (Our agency also did win a Lion for our work that year! We shared that prize with the rest of the teams back home, of course. The Xbox though… all mine haha.)
On our way back home, I immediately messaged Red. As mentioned, he was on my team, and we connected on a lot of things – pro wrestling, writing, and above all video games, and especially Street Fighter. So when I suddenly owned a brand spanking new Xbox, I just knew who to ask for recommendations! Never mind the clearings on headlines and taglines and body copy that day – this was may more urgent! Move all deadlines! Here comes a new challenger!
He was messaging me feverishly on the must-buys for the platform. Foremost of course was Street Fighter 4, at that time, the latest in our beloved franchise. From there, it was down the rabbit hole for me. It was games, more games, and even more games as I played catchup to the current gen, while also consuming the upcoming new releases. Then, it was the joy of online play, of discovering a new way to connect with fellow gamers, and the frustration of Philippine internet speeds. And then onto the hardware collection, the limited editions, the arcade sticks and the craziest controllers and the wackiest peripherals. Then, the thrill of connecting with the fighting game competitive scene, and the rush of getting swept at tournaments, and the friendships and the rivalries, and meeting the biggest personalities and worshipping gaming idols. And the never-ending Steam sales (Red was also the one who introduced me to the Steam platform and waiting for sales to buy dirt cheap games, that I don’t get to play anyway!)
And onward to more console generations into the next, and the next, and the next. And onto the marketing and gaming work, and most recently, the tying-it-all-together into something meaningful for brands and players, and now it goes way deep, deep down and the rabbit hole is never ending and what a beautiful ongoing journey it has been.
But it was that pivotal moment, that single console that reignited the gaming fire within and the reopening of such infinite possibilities! I had the Cannes Lions and I had the work to thank for that. In many ways, my push for every gamingXmarketing work is an effort to circle back to that very moment.
And of course, I had Red. My Gaming Shaman.
When I first heard about the term from Jia during our interview at the London International Awards judging for the inaugural Creativity in the Metaverse category, it just made so much sense. I especially loved how “Shaman,” in gaming context, doesn’t necessarily equate to age. As I have been discovering during this journey, age and gaming wisdom rarely correlate with each other!
Red is definitely younger than me (he hasn’t reached Dad joke levels yet so yes I am quite ahead in years), but I look up to him as my Gaming Shaman. Every now and then, we still message each other and he helps me with my gamingXmarketing pursuits, and I still learn a lot! My former partner Gary — his 14-year old daughter is my godchild and she’s the biggest gamer in their family. She has been educating me on Genshin Impact and Overwatch and her hugely active online gaming presence. Another Gaming Shaman!
When we were creating the Spikes Grand Prix Winning work, “The Unbranded Menu,” a true blue gamingXmarketing piece, and the first ever big win for a gaming case from the Philippines — the young gamers in the team were the ones leading the conversation, and pushing the boundaries of the idea, and keeping it as fresh and as relevant, and most especially authentic as possible to the gamer experience. They were our Gaming Shamans!
So If you’re a brand person, or just a marketer in general, and have started hearing about gaming becoming huge (current numbers indicate gaming is now bigger than music, film, linear TV combined!) and have always wanted to explore its unlimited branding possibilities, but don’t have the faintest idea where to start… find your Gaming Shaman!
Look around the office, search among your teams, who knows – it might be that one who came in to work with a faraway look, an accomplished smile, and eyebags a little heavier than usual, because they’ve spent all night solving a particularly tricky Zelda shrine! Goodluck on this quest!
Otherwise, I am always happy to help! Email me at email@example.com. Confidential “client-shaman” relationship shall apply.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Rey Tiempo is part of the team that won the first-ever Spikes Asia Grand Prix for a gaming work from the Philippines. He is currently Head of Experience and Innovation at Digitas. He has served as President of the Creative Guild of the Philippines, and has spent the last twenty-plus years leading teams to award-winning creative and effective work in Publicis Groupe, VMLY&R, Dentsu, BBDO, and Leo Burnett. Gamer, musician, comic book enthusiast, and relentless collector, Rey keeps himself immersed in platforms by creating music and gaming content. Currently playing: Resident Evil 4 Remake, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.
Artwork by Dennis Nierra, Creative Director at Publicis Jimenez Basic. Currently playing: God of War Ragnarok, New Game Plus mode.