Fake videogame companies are now a thing, and it’s no real surprise to anyone who’s been watching the industry for a minute. Like many other crazy videogame wannabes, this Mahal guy got too greedy, pulled a Theranos (aka his lies and ego were the only thing of value that he was peddling), and screwed all of the people who tried to help him. That could be you, aspiring videogame designer… either the screwer or the screwee. The full story is up at Kotaku.
I don’t think Mahal did this maliciously. In his original plan, he probably saw them delivering a hit videogame. People don’t get into videogame development to make money; greedy people go to Wall Street. But at some point I’m guessing Mahal realized that the project would never reach completion, and he kept his group slaving on in hopes of… well, your guess is as good as mine. And that’s where the Theranos comparison starts to click in. If you don’t know Theranos, google it.
The funny thing is that the story isn’t too different from how Bill Gates founded Microsoft. In this article from IEEE Spectrum, Bob Zeidman details how Gates found out that IBM needed an operating system, bought the rights to SCP’s QDOS, and hired the creator to update it for IBM’s needs. The IBM PC went on to make computing history, and Microsoft rode that wave to become Microsoft. (Zeidman also goes on to investigate allegations that Gates’ code illegally stole from another company’s.)
Gates was like Mahal in that he didn’t have what people wanted, but smelling opportunity, he told them he did and then put all his energy into getting the desired product. Unlike Mahal, though, Gates had some resources (3x Mahal’s, and in 1970s money) and acumen, and he was successful in getting the product and turning it into something commercially viable.
Lesson? Well, it boils down to acumen. Knowing what you can do, sensing opportunity, and delivering. It doesn’t have much to do with videogames per se. Your parents would probably call it “horse sense.”
In other news, my pals Florence and Logan hooked me up with tickets to another ACL taping last night. I like to document these shows on the blog; the headliner was Lucy Dacus, who was originally supposed to play with Julien Baker, but Baker was ill. Despite her age (24) Dacus held the stage capably and showed the capacity to drive propulsively the show whether backed by guitar, bass, and drums or just with her voice and a single guitar. “I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore” and the capper “Fool’s Gold” were highlights.