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weekly roundup – January 8th

I started my week by reading an article in Bloomberg about Disney’s princess business switching from Mattel to Hasbro. Mattel had a series of missteps with its treatment of Disney princess products, and Disney finally took its business elsewhere. Last year, two-thirds of the Mattel senior staff resigned or was fired (Mattel lost the Disney princesses in late 2014). Hasbro has reworked the princesses to be more true to their animated characters, including painting on faces, making the waistlines (very slightly) different, and taking the dresses back to what they were meant to be. A couple things stood out to me in this article. First, it’s very important to know your market. Disney didn’t understand that kids (and their parents) wanted princess stuff until an executive went to a Disney on Ice show and saw little girls in handmade princess dresses. Second, it’s important to pay attention to your client and make them feel heard and valued. The article is full of cringing moments where I found myself wishing that Mattel had done anything else. Excellent read.

Speaking of Disney and Hasbro, the #WheresRey debacle has been fascinating. Hasbro may be doing right by princesses, but their treatment of the female protagonist in Star Wars is just terrible, and their excuses feeble and hollow. This post discusses how Rey is a role model as much for boys as she is for girls.

Something else Disney is doing is building a Star Wars franchise to last the ages. Wired wrote about how the last Star Wars movie won’t come in our lifetime. Star Wars is following the comic book style of universe-building, with lots of options for side stories and having characters develop independently and together. (Also, I learned a new word – paracosm – so that’s exciting.) It’s the same thing that the big studios are doing with Marvel and DC, intertwining stories and building franchises to explore characters and ages and lands. It’s an exciting thing, but at the same time, I like being able to just ingest single stories or movies without needing to know a lot of external information. On a side note, I may get more into Star Wars. Carl certainly wants me to, and he has a list of books for me to read if I’m interested. So there’s that.

Getting away from Disney entirely, I also read about environmental activists that went after a ship that was egregiously and illegally fishing. The article was a fascinating look into a world of very determined people (on both sides). The environmentalists pursued the fishing boat for over 100 days and 10,000 nautical miles. I care about the environment, but their level of caring is so beyond what I can comprehend.

Games! This week, I played Bang the dice game, Aton, Roll for the Galaxy, and Five Tribes solo:

  • Bang (the dice game): I love Bang with cards, and I was skeptical about the dice, but it turned out to be surprisingly fun. Seeing what people chose to keep or not gave away stuff about their roll that might not be readily apparent in the card game. Good party game.
  • Aton: 2-player game, players place markers in temples to try to score points. Simple concept, easy to learn, and it’s a good mix of luck (drawing cards) and strategy.
  • Roll for the Galaxy: I played Race for the Galaxy a couple years ago with a friend, and I was excited to try the dice version. With my strategy, I ended up basically not needing to roll dice at all, which was kind of strange. The friend I played with said he thinks there’s actually less luck in the dice game than in the card game. I enjoyed the game and want to try it again.
  • Five Tribes (solo game): Days of Wonder released rules for a solo version of Five Tribes! It pits you against the sultan (controlled by a pair of dice). The sultan racks up a lot of tiles, and it ends up altering the game strategy. There are four levels of winning (and multiple ways to lose), and I won but didn’t excel. I enjoyed the game, though one of the reasons I play games is to play them with other people, so I’ll keep this for when I’m absolutely dying for a game and can’t convince Carl to oblige.

I’ll start posting these earlier in the day on Friday instead of after business hours. As it stands now, I’m sure they get lost among the weekend posts.

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