Sunday, January 20, 2013

Bathroom Monologue: Debt Game

It goes like this.

The plumber wants the coins. He doesn’t know why, but he’ll scarcely ever turn back in his furious pursuit rightwards of the shining golden GIFs.

The player wants the plumber to have the coins. They’re a detached score, extra lives, the promise of hidden unlockables, and most of all, rotating motivation to make the plumber run faster into stimulation.

The designer wants the player to want the plumber to have the coins. Getting hooked on this feedback loop will mean the player will play it longer, play it more often, buy the sequels, the t-shirts, the cellphone skin, the tie-in movies. Then the designer will be able to feed his family.

The publisher wants the designer to hook the player on getting the plumber those coins. Employing and taking the work of such a designer means greater profits for the release quarter, shareholder satisfaction, brand awareness and stability. The publisher can turn this into an institution.

The investor wants the publisher to find the designers that can hook the players to do dumb crap. Then the yields will be up, dividends may begin, and the portfolio will be rosier. The investor can watch the publisher’s daily NYSE rating tick up and down with news, reviews and sales figures of the designer’s game that the player is playing. The chart goes up and down and ever rightward, like the trails of someone jumping.

They all have less time than they think. Neither plumber nor investor knows why.


  1. I remember when my brothers got the first Nintendo. It was awe-inspiring compared to Frogger. Last year, Carlos' 4-year-old grandson dressed as Mario for Halloween and the cycle continues...

  2. So, all the way up and down the economic, not to mention the virtual, worlds, we all face the same thing. Not enough time.

    Pretty durn good lesson, John.


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