Idea vs User

I’ve had a conversation with an acquaintance of mine recently, he works as game designer. We’ve brought up a question I’ve already been broaching at DevGAMM Minsk 2014 conference. “What comes first in the process of creating a service (or a game) – the embodiment of an idea or gratification of needs of users of a certain character type”?

I think that the development process of almost any product – games included – starts with an idea. And this idea quintessentially is meant to gratify the need (or the needs) of the developer.

I, for one have not even once met the projects that began with the phrase: “Let’s do something for housewives, there’s a lot of them.” Must admit that suchlike occurrences might take place at the large companies with a wide range of products. But I think this will rarely lead to success of the product.

Then, the idea gets embodied in certain images, specifications, interface, channel promotion, etc. And following that the real users of the service (or the game) start making an appearance. And that’s when it turns out that these users have all manner of needs, and combinations thereof, imagery expectations, familiar interface, etc. The original idea does not really fit into this Procrustean bed. Plus we must take into the account creator’s jealous attitude. Ultimately we get only partially satisfied users, the project that is not used to its full potential, and even failure.

In my opinion, the industry is evolutionary came to the resolution of this issue with the figure of producer. The idea’s author, if he is really its proponent, experiences great difficulty in transforming the idea itself and alternatively seeks to materialize it most purely. Whereas the producer does not feel awe in its presence and is able to take the objective reality into account. His gift is to combine two requirements: the idea must be visible in the final product and the users must be able to perceive it.

Of course, not many people can afford hardcore producers with a portfolios of achievements. But, in my opinion, everybody can periodically arrange a kind of “collision with reality”, where someone acts out the role of an expert in the industry – the procedure is not complicated.

We ourselves came to the conclusion that in this case someone should:
1. Become acquainted with the existing popular solutions but only superficially.

2. Imagine the typical user or – even better – interact with them. Whilst simultaneously not so much listening to each specific user but trying to get a general idea.

3. Do not be taken with the idea much, but also do not feel unnecessary hostility and skepticism towards it. Refrain from producing his own ideas on the subject.

4. In the conversation do not deny the arguments from the ideas’ source, but rather seek the compromise between his views and the views of the conversation companion.

Perhaps our algorithm is far from optimal. But it is working so far. Look forward to discussing your ways of solving this problem 😉