“Bill Gates is building one of these as we speak”

transforming_360_by_xeno_striker.gifFrom the red rings of death to the unreadable disk errors, 360’s were turning on their owner’s like that scene in the Transformers movie. I was sick and tired of it, and I wanted results, so I emailed Bill Gates.

If you know me, you know that I hate the word NO. I hate it from anyone. Call me an Alpha male, stubborn, persistent, greedy… I don’t care. I get my way.

What got my juices REALLY flowing was that I had contacted Xbox PR in Canada to receive a loaner system while mine was in the shop. You see, even though my 360 had RRoD’ed twice, it still functioned ever so slightly. It was only a matter of time, however, before it froze, or would give the dreaded “disk is unreadable” error. It got to the point where it was happening about twice a day religiously.

I couldn’t really part with it for a month (the time quoted to me for repair), since my livelihood is based on my ability to review games and movies on the console. The pending release of Halo 3 sealed the deal. I absolutely NEEDED to find another way to solve the problem as being left without a console was not going to be an option.

As if that wasn’t enough, what pushed me completely over the edge and had me seeing red myself, was getting word that certain “large websites” and other media outlets were receiving duffel bags filled to the brim with swag and topped off with the new Halo 3 themed XBOX 360 console.

Now, call me irrational, but the thought crossed my mind that these websites have budgets, connections, offices — did I mention budgets? They can obtain a new working system in a heart beat from any one of their own offices. I know this because it happened all the time when I worked on location at similar companies in the past. So here they are, with a pile of free Halo stuff, while I was left staring at a red ring, simply asking for a loaner so that I may do my job. The steam started to whistle from my ears.

I calmly sat down, and began to type a very respectful email requesting a loaner once again. Still, no reply from Canada’s PR firm. Like I mentioned earlier, NO is not something I enjoy hearing, however I despise silence even more.

So, I emailed Bill Gates — yes, THAT Bill Gates. For those who doubt he pays attention to such correspondence, within 12 hours I suddenly was bombarded with emails and phone calls from the very PR people who for weeks either ignored me, or just didn’t seem to care. My email to Bill read as follows…

” … I understand that this may sound like someone looking for a handout, but I have built a personal business around reviewing these games, consoles, movies, HD-DVD’s, etc. on the review console your company (so generously) sent me 2 years ago. Without a 360 available to me for a month however, I will lose out on most of the income I generate to support my son and I. This isn’t just a cute little hobby for me. The money I make writing isn’t spent on more games or partying, but on groceries, clothes and everything my little guy needs… so purchasing a second 360, is impossible, even if it is necessary for my writing.

Please note I have sent a similar e-mail to Xbox PR in the Canada, since they are who I usually deal with. However, my review system came from Edelman, so I honestly wanted to get a hold of whom ever could help me best.”

There’s more to the email, but for privacy reasons relating to the PR companies involved, I decided to leave it out. In fact, I honestly wasn’t even sure if I was going to publish this story at all. Do I post it? Will anyone care? Is this reporting or this more along the lines of online whining — the very thing I simply can’t stand to read when published by others.

In the end, I thought it would be beneficial to share the information, as I felt the need to stand up for myself as a writer and avid gamer. My hope is that others who’ve experienced the same thing will not give up, and never accept NO for an answer.

I must admit though, as I sat down with my son, I began to wonder, am I too much of a gamer? There are people starving in this world (I know, I met a few of them when I was living out of my car) and here I am, worried about a video game system, possibly getting some PR rep in trouble because of my actions.

I understand how the game of PR politics plays out, I really do. Marketing and Public Relations are delicate and high stress industries, made even more stressful by people like me. In a round about way, the situation had me questioning my career decision. I love playing, I love reviewing, and I absolutely love writing, but at times I feel that my passion for what I do gets the best of me, and I end up losing sight of how my actions may be effecting others. I loathe hearing NO, but before this, I rarely thought about why.

In the end, I got my way. At one point, I had THREE XBOX 360’s sitting in front of my office. Who if anyone was made to pay the price for my tirade? While I may never know, what I do know, is that if I ever email Bill Gates again, it will be to ask him how his day was. We all like to be asked that once in a while.

Update: 10/27 – 3:58PM EST
For those interested in checking out the English version of the  XBOX 360 Manga Girl above, Kotaku has it posted here.

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Michael A. Bencic; Where the 'A' stands for Awesome! Forged in the fiery pits of Canada, Michael has become world renowned for his skills in writing, illustration (http://michaelbencic.com/zilla-studio.htm) and ability to hold down his Tequila... oftentimes, simultaneously. Currently Mr. Bencic (when your this big, they call you Mr.) is dating the Cortanna mo-cap model fresh off the hit game Halo 3. In his spare time, Michael chews bubble gum and kicks ass for RipTen (duh), www.CanuckZillaStudios.com, UMM Magazine, Bobbi Magazine, www.XboxLiveNation.com, and many others... by the way, he's all out of bubble gum.


  1. Atleast you never have to worry about your ps3 breaking or the Wii since they are both made in Japan, not a cheap run now factory in China.

    Microsoft quality sucks.