It is said that goldfish grow to the size of their environment. Though it is thought to be a misnomer that theroy can be also be applied to our lives or even our games.
Let’s play around here with hypothetical situations so you can understand the basis of this theory.
Let’s say we take a Billionaire, someone who’s made a lot of money running a business or doing something else significant where they reach a mass audience, and let’s move them to a small town. While they are in this town, let’s give them the same big business mindset they had, but not the mental capacity to expand their environment.
Let’s do Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonalds for fun.
So Ray is in a small town of about 50,000 people and opens a McDonalds. The restaurant is an immediate success. A small mindset would prohibit him from deciding to open another restaurant to meet the towns demand. He could make a good chunk of money off this one restaurant. This is an example of material growth. Let’s say this 1 restaurant makes him $100,000 a year and he’s fine with that. Because of his mindset he has capped on his material growth.
Now let’s say Ray decides to expand his mind some, he opens another restaurant in his town, then another, and another; so now he has 4 and it appears the towns demand for McDonalds has reached it’s limit. So he now has 4 restaurants making $100,000 a year for him each, that’s $400,000 a year total. He again has reached the cap of his mindset. His mindset was to expand to meet his towns demands for McDonalds, because of his geographical location and the population, he is now geographically capped. No matter how big his mindset gets or how many restaurants he builds in his town, he’ll start to lose money off each one and they will become less profitable.
So sure, Ray is the richest man in town with his 4 restaurants, he’s now a big fish in a small pond. The only way for him to get bigger is to expand his geographical location which means expanding his mindset about what he’s doing. Which he obviously did. McDonalds is one of the largest corporations to date with an International reach of about 119 countries serving approximately 68 million customers a day.
You can see by the above example how a person can reach a maximum cap from the local economy and unless you expand into other geographical locations you are stuck at that level no matter what you think, if it’s not thinking about expanding your potential customers base, you can’t grow.
This is good for business but what about games? This site is about making games, right?
If you think this has nothing to do with games. I think you may have missed the point, let me explain. This theroy is one to keep in mind while you are devloping the concepts and mechanics for your game. Thinking about expanding your games environment may help you realize that your game can in fact be expanded, lets say from a 52 card game to a fully fleshed-out board game with cards the driving mechanic.
Lets look at a big game, a really big game, Mega Civilization by Flo de Haan, John Rodriguez and Francis Tresham. Their game would have never been the same if they would have seen table size or component number or even play time as a environmental constraint.
For those of you who have never seen the scale of this game, thats right they needed 4 tables pushed together to play the game. So what are the limits or mindsets that are holding us back as designers? In order to innovate we need to think outside the realms of limitations such as table size and player count and production cost. Sometimes you have to put it all on the table (or tables in this example) and say, were going to make somthing cool fun and exciting. Those titles are more often than not the ones that always seem to break new ground where there seems to be no ground to be broken.
What do you think about this? Comment below or start a discussion in the fourms.