TOUCH THAT AND I’LL KILL YOU: The Amazing Power of Loss Aversion

Image taken from http://twodashstash.com

Image taken from twodashstash.com

Resident Evil 4 is the best game ever made. Hands down.

You don’t agree? Well then, let me rephrase: I think Resident Evil 4 is the best game ever made.

No dice? Fine: I think Resident Evil 4 is the best game ever made, but I could be wrong.

There is nothing materially distinct about those statements. They all express an opinion that Resident Evil 4 is the greatest game ever made. But I’m going to guess that your reaction to each of them was incrementally less severe (unless you also think RE4 is the greatest game ever made). Why? Loss aversion. Continue reading

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What the Hell is It That You Actually Do Anyway, Mr. Marketing Guy?

sleazyguy

Ahhhh, marketing. Few professions are as maligned as marketing. When I say the word “marketing”, no doubt your mind is flooded with images of sleezy skags in suits talking about how transmedia synergies are really hot with the teen male demo. Nobody could say it better than Bill Hicks:

But here’s the question: what IS marketing? Do you know? Do you really know? I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that if you absolutely, fundamentally hate marketing folks without reservation, you probably don’t actually know what marketing is. Or, rather, what it’s supposed to be. I’m a student at a graduate school that made it’s reputation on marketing, and I didn’t actually know what marketing was supposed to be until I took a marketing class. Marketing isn’t just advertising. It isn’t just focus groups and lowest common denominator bullshit. Continue reading

Competitive Advantage and the Productivity Frontier, Or Why Dark Souls is the Ikea of Game Development

DarkSouls

One of the major figures of business academia is a man named Michael Porter. Porter, a professor at the Harvard Business School, is possibly most famous for his trademark “Five Forces Analysis”, but he is also the author of one of the definitive books on competition, Competitive Strategy.

Porter argues that efficiency, while important, is not enough to create a true competitive advantage. Even if a firm is using the most cutting-edge technology and best practices of an industry, to the utmost level of efficiency (what Porter refers to as “the productivity frontier”), all a competitor needs to steal the lead is to find a new best practice, technique, or technology and become just that much more efficient. In simpler terms, being the most cost-effective company only puts you in the lead until someone else figures out how to be more cost-effective (Porter calls this “expanding the productivity frontier”). Further, Porter argues that a firm can either iterate (do things better) or it can innovate (do better things), but it can’t do both at once: a new technology or product will, by definition not have an established best practice, so iterations must occur before that relevant productivity frontier can be found. Continue reading

What Can The Art of War Teach Us About Game Development? Part 2

The Art of War in it's original presentation: bound bamboo planks.

The Art of War in it’s original presentation: bound bamboo planks.

Note: This entry was based on Samuel B. Griffith’s translation of The Art of War, specifically The New Illustrated Edition (Copyright© Duncan Baird Publishers, 2005). All quotations are Griffith’s translations.

You can read Part 1 of the series here.

Chapter IV: Dispositions

Thus a victorious army wins its victories before seeking battle; an army destined to defeat fights in hope of winning. (Chapter 4, Verse 14)

Contrary to what one might assume, Sun Tzu was not a bloodthirsty warmonger. He stressed that the aim of war was expedient victory, not destruction, and that the most skilled generals achieved it with a minimum of bloodshed on for any side, or no bloodshed at all. To win through pure violence was the hallmark of the amateur and the inept. Truly adroit generals win before the battle even begins. In modern terms, they set themselves up for success. How do you, the modern game developer, do likewise? Simple: do your due diligence. Continue reading