The Giraffe Principle

Quite often I don’t get around to doing my grocery shopping first thing Saturday morning, right after the new flyer comes out. As a consequence, I’m not the first one to the store, and generally don’t get the best selection of produce. However, I have discovered something I like to call the Giraffe Principle.

I don’t know much about Africa or its flora or fauna, but I have heard of a creature called a Giraffe. It has a long neck that allows it to reach way up and eat the leaves off trees that would be inaccessible to other animals. Without the long neck, the giraffe would be left trying to compete with all the other lower-bound animals for the same food source.

Now back in the grocery store, I find quite often that people aren’t willing to reach all the way to the top or back of a stack of produce. So quite often I will find that I can reach to the back of the pile of apples or peaches, or whatever it is, and find some quite nice produce while everyone else immediately sees the nastier, picked over produce at the bottom of the pile.

You may be asking yourself – ‘Why am I reading about picking the best produce on a pseudo-game development related blog?’. Quite simple really – sometimes the larger, average companies are only willing to look at what everyone else is already looking at – the most visible consumers of the games they produce. You’ve got your classic RPG fan, your FPS fan, your sports games fan, your racing game fan, and more recently, your music fan. Now look at what Nintendo has done – they have extended their reach into the market by stretching out and making something different. In doing so they did put themselves at great (albeit calculated) risk, but were able to tap into a market that others didn’t see.

This doesn’t apply just to Nintendo either. Look at some of the more recent trends in gaming. There are quite a few games produced by small teams of independent game developers which have become incredibly successful. Rather than relying on the same gameplay as everyone else, they have extended themselves and reached into other areas that haven’t been discovered or taken advantage of by the larger developers in the industry.

So today’s lesson: Don’t be afraid to stick your neck out.

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