High Stakes Gambling

Someone once asked me what I could compare the process of Game Development to and I answer “Gas Flaring” He looked puzzled and asked why. My reply is based on this reality. I watched five gaming projects burn to arrive at this conclusion.

Game Development is an intersection of business, entertainment and technology. Failing which a gaming project is likely to fail. A lot of game developers being programmers naively think that technology is all it takes to build a game. Truth is good games do not need technology.

Games are as old as antiquity. Their intended function is as a means of education. Animals only have one method of passing skills from one generation to the other and it is through play. Understanding this means that the medium is more important than the technology.

That is why I refer to the process of game development as gas flaring. It is possible to hack out the codes for a game in a week. However issues like User Interface (UI)  and User Experience (UX) which most programmers know next to nothing about can kill a game.

Programmers traditionally create software for coercive environments. Think of your favourite word editor. You use it because you want to  get work done. In the process you force yourself to adapt to it. Gaming however is a persuasive medium. You exercise your right to choose. If you don’t like a game you could uninstall it or never play it again.

This means that games must be user-friendly, simple and down to earth. Once this is done, it is easy for a user to come back and play a game over and over. Concerning monetization, I have found that adverts tend to kill user experience on most games.

Personally, I believe that a business needs customers to survive. I would rather give a free version that has reduced features than a free version using advertisement. I believe in working with and for people who put their money where their application/game is. Knowing this, I believe in getting users to pay for stuff in a way that is measurable.

In conclusion, today is the 128th day of the year. We’ve come a long way since the year started. Grateful for the lessons I have learnt but more importantly the person I became. I remain loyal.

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2 thoughts on “High Stakes Gambling

  1. Awesome blog post truston. I like the way you highlight that games are not about technology! Towards the end, you point out that advertisements kill the gaming experience – So are game developers condemned to a life of getting-nothing-for-their efforts ? Your article suggests how NOT to attempt monetization (adverts) … how in your opinion can game developers approach this elephant in the room ?
    Once again, thanks for an insightful piece.

    • I believe strongly that a labourer deserves his/her wages. Truthfully, the model of advertising pays only the advertising companies. Using the model of the feudal system of lord and serfs, the serfs were never rich as they are subject to the law of diminishing returns.
      I admit that it is hard to accept the popularity of monetization using advertisement. But even users are now installing adblockers on their phones.
      Concerning monetization I believe that game development should be a means to an end for a business. Game development can enhance the brand of a business and create opportunities for other jobs. Primarily focussing on game development can be a recipe for disaster.
      It all comes down to the underlining business model. If the business model of a software house is sound, then the spin-off of game production can indirectly raise income.
      Personally, my position is the same. Free or Paid. Get the user experience right and above all don’t do what is popular or easy but what is necessary.

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