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I'm Jake McKee

People call me The Community Guy

Addictive Monetizing

Posted on 29 Dec 2007 | 8 comments

elfbowling.jpgIt was a crisp fall day in Texas in the year 1999 when our team at NVision Design, high on the growing success of our game Frogapult, released another email forwardable game Elf Bowling. These were the days when you could still send .exe files via email, and the stats were incredible. With a 1mb size, we were sending terabytes of data per day that Christmas season. For years afterwards, I could ask people if they were familiar with Elf Bowling and literally 2 out of 3 would say they were. In fact, I believe I interviewed at LEGO asking the same question.

The success of the game, and the pure game development genius of my friend and co-worker, Matt Johnson inspired a fantastic follow-up.

During the dot com bubble bursting crazy, the gaming properties (under the brand name “NStorm”) were sold off to another company who made several follow-ups. On top of that, apparently they’ve made a movie this year too. That’s right, a movie based on foul-mouthed elves being used as bowling pins for Santa. If you’re asking “What the f….”, then you’re asking the right question.

When I stumbled across this brand new, $9.99 movie in the checkout aisle at Tom Thumb, it trigged one of my favorite mantras: “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”. The movie is horrendous and hardly seems worth the effort. Were the new NStorm owners so hard up for money that they felt they had to monetize every. last. drop. of all that is (or at least was) good about the Elf Bowling name?

A new mom recently told me that after seeing her toddler “dancing” every time a particular song came on the radio, she was looking into dance classes for her. The toddler. Classes.

Sometimes it’s better to just let things play out naturally. When we try to monetize absolutely everything for our own personal gain, it doesn’t seem like it tends to serve anyone involved worth a damn.

  • NVision Design Employee

    Dude, Matt Johnson had very little to do with the first two Elf Bowling games. Mike Bielinski and Dan Ferguson created those two games. Matt Johnson was responsible for the pathetic versions afterwards.

  • NVision Design Employee

    Dude, Matt Johnson had very little to do with the first two Elf Bowling games. Mike Bielinski and Dan Ferguson created those two games. Matt Johnson was responsible for the pathetic versions afterwards.

  • http://www.communityguy.com Jake McKee

    First off, you score no points from me for posting anonymous insults.

    Second, I’ll do some digging and see what the realities are. I’m the first to admit that my memories from 1999 might be fuzzy. Of course, it’d be easier to trust you if you weren’t hiding….

  • http://www.communityguy.com Jake McKee

    First off, you score no points from me for posting anonymous insults.

    Second, I’ll do some digging and see what the realities are. I’m the first to admit that my memories from 1999 might be fuzzy. Of course, it’d be easier to trust you if you weren’t hiding….

  • http://www.communityguy.com Jake McKee

    Thanks for the clarification, Matt!

  • Matt Johnson

    Well… I’m no history teacher, but I’ll do my best :)

    First of all, Jake is very generous with the credit :) . There is no doubt that the original concept was the brainchild of Mike and Dan, and the lion’s share of work was done by them.

    The overall project was contributed to by many individuals, and their roles are credited on the closing screen when you click on the elves.

    My involvement on the first Elf Bowling was project management, concepting, sound and post game PR. I am not claiming that I created the game, but I wouldn’t call my role “hardly involved” either.

    My role on the second was the same as well as business development with the sponsor CD-NOW.

    I had no involvement with Elf Bowling after that. Vectrix went bankrupt and auctioned the property to Matt Lichtenwalter at Commotion Interactive (whom this person may have me confused with). I went to work for Studio 212 briefly and had no further involvement with Elf Bowling.

    Hope this helps,
    Cheers… Matt

  • Matt Johnson

    Well… I’m no history teacher, but I’ll do my best :)

    First of all, Jake is very generous with the credit :) . There is no doubt that the original concept was the brainchild of Mike and Dan, and the lion’s share of work was done by them.

    The overall project was contributed to by many individuals, and their roles are credited on the closing screen when you click on the elves.

    My involvement on the first Elf Bowling was project management, concepting, sound and post game PR. I am not claiming that I created the game, but I wouldn’t call my role “hardly involved” either.

    My role on the second was the same as well as business development with the sponsor CD-NOW.

    I had no involvement with Elf Bowling after that. Vectrix went bankrupt and auctioned the property to Matt Lichtenwalter at Commotion Interactive (whom this person may have me confused with). I went to work for Studio 212 briefly and had no further involvement with Elf Bowling.

    Hope this helps,
    Cheers… Matt

  • http://www.communityguy.com Jake McKee

    Thanks for the clarification, Matt!