Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I love Valve.

Not long after the release of Half Life, I read a post mortem that described the following axiom to me: If you show them where the trap lies, then show them how it works and they still run into it you can be as brutal as you like. (I can’t find the direct quote, but that’s basically what I took away from the comment.)

I’ve used this axiom many times in any number of creative experiences, especially in regards to roleplaying . It really turns a challenge into a puzzle, and I like puzzles in a gaming environment.

It was earlier this year when they gave me another axiom, quite different yet no less profound: “Pirates are just underserved customers”. They really shook me awake to a quite obvious idea that people who copy your work and try to give it to your potential customers for a seriously discounted price/entirely free are quite simply a competitor. It was a paradigm shift, before software pirates were a ubiquitous phenomenon that stole and perverted peoples work and now they’re your competition. And we as a global society have become very good at dealing with competition.

I love this example. When Jon Rawlinson used a tune from indi band Barcelona for his YouTube video, their reaction was simply that they were flattered. They drew the video into their domain and utterly endorsed it which allowed them to basically use it as a marketing tool. Try doing that to some ubiquitous phenomenon.

I’m not saying that Valve created this philosophy, or that they educated the world in this shift, it’s just that they simply educated me.

I love Valve.

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