A Review of Disrupting the Game by Reggie Fils-Aime

Reggie Fils-Aime’s book is fascinating for a few reasons. There is a lot of advice here for people that translates to many jobs. I’ll talk more about it later, but those passages add something special to the book.

This is one of the many autobiographies from people who have contributed a lot to the video game industry. This one is different because it’s not about a developer; it’s about marketing and business.

In this way, it is a bit like Not all Fairy Tales have Happy Endings. Both start in similar ways, but they diverge in the type of business they talk about.

Early Career

The book starts with some history of Reggie’s family and his childhood. It then moves into his path to Proctor & Gamble. I like how he talks about this and explains the role people played in helping him.

We start with his neighborhood in New York. There aren’t too many stories here, but the ones we have are pretty interesting. I’m not sure how much this section tells us about Reggie, but the stories are entertaining.

He brings up his time at Cornell University and how he first enrolled through the Reserve Officer Training program with the Air Force. He didn’t stay with the Air Force. From Cornell, he went to Proctor & Gamble. The way he describes this felt a little strange to me. However, I had my own odd recruitment that I don’t want to get into.

He talks about his successes while working at Proctor & Gamble. He brings up the culture there and how his mentors helped him. Reggie also talks about his exit from the company. It seems like he was right, but the way that he went about things wasn’t. So, while he did the correct thing, he left the company.

We also hear stories about the other places he worked, like Pizza Hut. This led to my favorite account, not because I found it interesting but because of the nostalgia. The Big Foot pizza was one of the things that he marketed while there. He created the marketing campaign and shut it down. It was a fun story to read.

He talked about some other companies, but I don’t remember them. He eventually landed at VH1. This is the job he had before Nintendo. I wonder what it would have been like if he had stayed there longer.

Lessons Learned

Reggie talks about both his successes and his failures. I like how he talks about each of them and explains what he would have done differently. He also owns what he did wrong.

Throughout the book, there are a lot of lessons learned brought up here. There are times when Reggie wasn’t able to convince people he was right or that the plan he came up with was the correct one. This led to him leaving some positions.

I think stuff like this is very important. He isn’t just bringing up what he did right, but he talks about where he got things wrong. These aren’t moments he dwells on.

The only thing that I think could have been better covered was the Wii U. I’ll get more into this during the next section.

His Time at Nintendo

This takes up most of the book. Probably because it was the part that most people want to hear about. This is where he goes into the most detail, and it is the job that he was at the longest.

At some points during the book, he brings up the role that video games played in his life. There were some stories of how he played games with his children. It reminded me of playing video games with my dad, but my experience was more about trying to get him to play with me.

For the most part, Reggie focuses on three launches. The DS, the Wii, and the 3DS. He talks about the marketing decisions and the things he did to try and make these launches successful.

However, the Wii U is primarily ignored here. I would have liked to see a compare and contrast with the Wii and Wii U launches. It would have been nice to read about how the Wii U wasn’t successful and what he would have done differently.

That doesn’t happen, though. He mentions that the Wii U wasn’t successful, the software lineup was weak, journalists were confused by the name and branding, and finally, how they moved on from it quickly.

I would have liked to hear more about the Wii U. When I first heard about the Wii U; I was working retail. We were returning stuff at the night’s end, and one of my managers mentioned it. I asked what it was and was told it was the new Wii. It felt kind of strange hearing about it this way.

This was a big contrast to how I heard about the Wii. It felt like there were more commercials and product placement for the Wii. You also had more people who didn’t play games talking about the Wii. On the other hand, the Wii U didn’t seem to have any of this.

Then he moves onto the Switch. There is some talk of taking the things that worked from the Wii U and improving on them. I do like this part.

Then we close out this with Reggie retiring from Nintendo. Then we read a bit about what he did after leaving. He still mentions Gamestop, and I’m not sure how long he was on their board or if he is still there.

The So What Advice

Throughout the book, there are these sections called So What. These are used to expand on a point, explain things, or give some additional advice about any given topic.

I like how he uses these, and the things he says are helpful. Because they are separate from the narrative, you can skip them and come back later.

I think these are a nice addition to the book. They give some nice life advice on navigating some problems that might come up. It feels like this is one of Reggie’s efforts to give back to people. It’s a way for people to see what he did right and where he went wrong.

Final Thoughts

I think this is a great book. There is a lot of solid advice in this book. It also seems to me that Reggie’s story isn’t over.

There are a few things that I don’t think were explained very well or glossed over. I mentioned the Wii U, but there was also his time at Gamestop. Maybe there wasn’t more to say on that, but we will never know.

After reading this, I have more questions about some of Nintendo’s marketing strategies in the 2010s. That’s just a small part of the book. However, I wish it was explored more than it was in this book.

Published by Paul Werkema

Hi! I'm here to share my hobbies with all of you. I love video games and books, so I write about the books that cover video games or are novels about video games.

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