Domestic Arcade, Inc.

Leslie MacKrell and Eric Pliner, authors of the 2010 Reaching Out MBA case writing competition winning case, Domestic Arcade, Inc. and the Release of Wayne Reynolds's Offsides IV, share their case development journey.

Eric Pliner and Leslie MacKrellMacKrell and Pliner wrote this case, which focuses on Domestic Arcade, Inc. a fictional leading video game publisher, whilst studying for their MBAs at Zicklin School of Business, Baruch College. Domestic Arcade, Inc is poised to begin the first stages of marketing the next addition to their signature series, Wayne Reynolds's Offsides, when they hear that the star of the game, pro-football Wayne Reynolds, is about to announce publicly that he is gay. The case explores the implications of this announcement for Domestic Arcade.

What inspired you to write a case?

We both enjoyed participating in case study analysis in the classroom as students, and we were energised by the prospect of integrating our shared passion for social justice with MBA curriculum materials. We had recently worked together with two other classmates to start Zicklin OUTsource, a networking group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students and allies at Baruch College's Zicklin School of Business, and thought that the Reaching Out MBA case writing competition was a great way to merge our professional interests and extracurricular activities.

Why the video game industry?

As students who were simultaneously working professionals, we brought our shared knowledge of the day-to-day of business environments to the case writing process. We matched that awareness with topics that we knew to be cutting-edge and of interest to us and our classmates.

Together, we had completed two prior studies of the economics and marketing of video games, and were intrigued by the notion of an industry that earns most of its revenue from a very small number of products, despite releasing hundreds annually. While we were considering the case, we continued to read about public figures whose personal lives raised questions for their endorsers about whether and how to adjust their marketing strategies. We were convinced that these two stories together made for a compelling case study that would challenge students, faculty, and practitioners alike.

Making a fictional company real

We met with professionals from several of the leading companies in what is a very competitive industry, and learned that they were far more willing to share information about their strategies and products on the condition of complete anonymity. By creating a composite company and product, rather than relying on one company's particular experience, we were able to design a scenario that was carefully grounded in reality and that also met our particular educational goals for the case study. We wanted to let students and faculty in on a realistic and frank discussion of sensitive issues that have tremendous implications for a business.

By crafting a composite company rather than relying on an existing firm, we took on the opportunity and the challenge to create our own characters and narratives from start to finish. This was among the most exciting elements of our writing, but also among the most difficult. We worked hard to make the case engaging and simultaneously realistic, and also to ensure that all of our data was accurate and that internal inconsistencies were resolved. To address these challenges, we asked a series of readers from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines to review our work and push us with difficult questions at multiple stages throughout the process.

How can the case be used?

We asked Ana Valenzuela, Associate Professor of Marketing at Zicklin School of Business, Baruch College to supervise our work on this project because of her extensive knowledge of and experience in marketing and her regular use of case studies as a pedagogical tool in her own classroom. She helped us to ground both the case and the accompanying teaching note in the particular needs of business school faculty, and also to ensure that our strategies were relevant to marketers. Her expectation that we draw on a mix of detailed quantitative and qualitative data as sources for our writing enabled us to broaden the potential uses of the case for courses in marketing, strategy, communications, organizational behaviour, diversity and inclusion, and more.

Rainbow football helmet and controller We hope that educators, students, and practitioners who use the case will engage in vigorous discussions about stakeholder management strategies, about the relative importance of external forces in establishing and adjusting sales and marketing plans, and about the role of identity and stereotyping in consumer behaviour and enterprise decision-making. A discussion of perceptions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the context of two industries - video gaming and professional sports - with mixed reputations for being welcoming and affirming exists at the intersection of social issues and business. The 'answer,' as it were, to the Domestic Arcade case is perhaps not as obvious or as clear as one might assume at first glance; how and why students engage with the quantitative and/or qualitative data presented sets up a compelling opportunity to explore and meet these teaching objectives, and others.

We're eager to hear results and feedback from anyone who uses the case. So far, we've heard that Domestic Arcade is really interesting and compelling, and also that it's particularly challenging - which is exactly what we wanted!

Any advice?

Write about an industry or a company with which you have comfort and familiarity. It's much easier to ask the right questions and to get the details that bring the case to life when you are sufficiently knowledgeable up front. Also, read your case out loud. Make sure that your writing sounds both professional and realistic, and that you convey your messages clearly and in the right tone. Ask other people to read it along the way. And, importantly, include a teaching note - that makes your work far more useful to faculty who are considering your case for their classrooms.

Case details

Domestic Arcade, Inc. and the Release of Wayne Reynolds's Offsides IV
Leslie MacKrell and Eric Pliner
Zicklin School of Business, Baruch College
This case is part of the Reaching Out MBA LGBT Case Collection
Ref 510-104-1
Also available:
Teaching note
Ref 510-104-8

About the authors

Leslie MacKrell is Senior Officer for Planning and Development at Ms. Foundation for Women. e lesliemackrell@gmail.com

Eric Pliner is a Senior Consultant at Young Samuel Chambers. e epliner@gmail.com

Leslie and Eric are both graduates of the Zicklin School of Business, Baruch College, MBA Programme.

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