Two nifty takes on planning a business have landed in my inbox in the past week and they both are good enough and flexible enough that I feel I should share them. First up is a new way to go about business planning and rethinks what the business planing should focus on.
The problem with the traditional business plan is that while it is a great *initial* exercise for the entrepreneur, we don’t yet have all the right answers but are expected to pretend we do. More importantly, we see the world differently and need help finding the right answers but the business plan format is not conducive for that.
It’s called the lean startup canvas and propose to not think about the product you’re creating but rather the business model that you’re creating. This may not sound radical but the change in focus can be helpful.
Thinking about the business model as “the product” is quite empowering. It’s not something you back into once you have a product with early traction to pitch investors. Rather, it’s something you can and should be actively building and testing from day one.
The canvas is focused on the business aspect of the plan, but what about living while you’re starting a business. If you read TechCrunch you’ll start to think that the only thing worth doing is working 20-hour days to start a company to sell it to somebody else – the act of creating a business for money is the thing we ought to aspire to.
Rock Paper Shotgun is great in announcing their opinions on game design and I love them when they espouse such opinions. I also enjoy their half-joking take on games themselves, particularly how to improve them.
Here’s their complete list of rules for game makers. Some seem very serious while others seem to just bring back the author’s ideas of good games from years ago.
DO have your in-game volume sliders work. It’s beyond all my understanding – and I have over sixty-three understanding – why I can drag the slider down to a fraction of a millimetre from the bottom and still not be able to hear the TV show I’m watching on the other screen. I shouldn’t have to use Windows’ in-built volume controls to SHUT YOU UP. Especially YOU, Popcap. It’s like your volume sliders go, 10, 9, 8, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 0. Your games do not demand my full attention, as brightly coloured as they may be. I might want to enjoy an evening of Peggle and light-hearted crime procedural dramas, and I need to hear the quips.
DON’T make it difficult for me to quit. In fact, since I’m telling you how to do your jobs, you should add this new requirement. A quit button. I know, it sounds cuckoo-crazy, but bear with me. From anywhere in the game, I want to call up the menu (by pressing “Escape” – not by looking at a device strapped to my wrist, tabbing through three pages, and finding the four pixel button for the options) and then choose “Quit to desktop”. I do not want to quit to the main menu. I do not want to quit to the level selection screen. I do not want to quit to that insane screen that asks me to press a button to start. I want to quit the game. Completely. In one go. I don’t, because I’m some sort of insanely fussy old pickypants, want to go through each of those previous pages one by one, until I’ve eventually climbed back up enough ladders to see the crack of daylight that is escape. Yes, you can ask me if I’m sure, in case I select the wrong thing because you probably haven’t bothered to add mouse controls to your 360 port. And then, PING!, I’m back at my desktop ready to continue with my day. Leaving a game shouldn’t be more of a challenge than a boss fight.
The gaming industry needs more people making games so we can get diverse perspectives on the world around us and the issues some people face. An example of a game that can open minds to issues that others face is dys4ia.
dys4ia is the story of the last six months of my life: when i made the decision to start hormone replacement therapy and began taking estrogen. i wanted to catalog all the frustrations of the experience and maybe create an “it gets better” for other trans women. when i started working on the game, though, i didn’t know whether it did get better. i was in the middle of the shit detailed in level 3 of the game, and at the time i had no idea what the ending would be; it was hard to envision a happy ending.
Health care is an ever-expanding industry so it makes sense that the world of games and health will intersect.
For an introduction to the complexities of health care in the developed world and how we can start seeing how games can impact it watch this keynote by Ben Swayer at the most recent Games for Health – Europe conference.
When it comes to general care there have been some attempts like WiiFit that brought the idea of games connected to health to the mainstream. The connection between professional game designers and health care practitioners can better bridge the divide between for-profit and for-health care. The ideal is people play games that are fun in itself, and it just so happens that the games are about (or for) healthy living.