Valve software: why idea development is like Jenga

To the non-gamers among you, Valve software is the gaming’s industry most original player. They combine game design innovation, with marketing and business model innovation, they are the avant-garde. you could say they are the Pixar of game development, only they’re much more.

Here is a quote from a recent blog post that I think applies to concept development in general and creative/strategy collaboration in particular:

“Coming up with a Meet the Team short [* animation shorts promoting one of their games. UB] is a lot like a game of Jenga. 99% of it involves making room for an idea and seeing what happens.

Most of the time what happens is the whole structure collapses. Then you have to figure out why it collapsed and rebuild it, this time making sure to add in some structural support for your idea so it doesn’t bring the whole short down.”

(the rest of their post relates more to the specific animated short they’ve been developing)

Valve software doing what they must, because they can. For science. (and gaming, and marketing…)

Too busy to write a full post report, but here is a story told in links… To gamers, this will all be taken for granted, but many people in the creative industry are simply oblivious to what’s going on in this arena, and they shouldn’t. We should all pay real attention to this category, because it is the avant-garde of post-modern marketing.

If you have any interest in transmedia storytelling or the future of marketing, what Valve is doing as it promotes the release of Portal 2 (probably tomorrow at this pace) is simply amazing.

Portal 2: The game
The wiki of the game about the game which is played across social media, other games, podcasts, magazine websites, email, IRC … involving the gathering of clues to aid the gathering of “potatoes” required to overclock the AI antagonist of the game (=Valve releasing the game earlier). But also includes the release of branded content across the other games, new content about the game’s universe and its meta-universe (which is a version of our’s).
Which all results in this accelerated countdown to the release.

Single handily revolutionising the PC gaming industry through their Steam platform (an app store for PC games, installed on pretty much every gamer’s PC on earth) is apparently not enough.
Seriously exciting, ground-breaking and creative stuff.

Update 26/4/2011: And here is a good summary of the Portal 2 ARG by Edge Magazine.