Jacob and I love video games and got into a lively discussion about our favorite types of games. This eventually led us into an argument about the “good” and “bad” games out there on the market. Not surprisingly, there are games that I like (Animal Crossing) that Jacob would never touch with a ten-foot pole, and vice versa (Resident Evil). Like most opinionated discussions, ours derailed into a “You’re-a-snob-because-you-hate-the-Wii” versus “You-hate-shooters-because-you’re-no-good-at-them” bickering match. We even started to accuse each other of not being “true gamers” unless you liked certain video games.
Then we took a step back and laughed at ourselves.
Like all products, video games are made with a certain consumer in mind. Most of them are not meant to be played by all types of people from all walks of life. Certain games go for the “bread ‘n’ butter” established 17-to-35 year-old single male with disposable income, while others are created for young families with two children and still others are created for 40-year-old women who spend several hours after work surfing the Internet.
From this vantage point, there is no “true gamer.” Sure, there are certain types of people who have incorporated video games as part of their identity (I’m looking at you, World of Warcraft) and therefore spend a disproportionate amount of money on games. That doesn’t mean that all companies should be going after this user base. In fact, some of the biggest areas of innovation (and revenue) in games in the last years have been happening in casual games, including (but not limited to) the iPhone and Facebook platforms. Here, you’ve got people like Mary V., the 60-something librarian of my hometown of Jerome, Idaho, playing Mafia Wars as if she were Scarface himself. Getting her to play video games in any form is legendary in and of itself.
As entrepreneurs, our goal is not to copy, but to innovate. If you believe in creating something for the “one true consumer” of your industry, you’re in for an uphill battle. They already have twenty companies trying to sell them something. How about creating something for the guy who only has one choice, or even better, the gal who has none?
And who knows? You might just redefine who that “one true consumer” is. Or at least, stir the waters a bit. That’s what we’re trying to do with Fellowstream.
P.S. Oh, and Jacob, it’s true that I’m terrible at FPSs. I’m bad at them because I don’t like them and therefore, don’t play them. But if you feel the need for a beat-down, I’m in for Soul Caliber IV, anytime.
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