Creative, Cool, or COMMERCIAL?

Whether at the brainstorm kickoff or a week before gold master, game designers make painful decisions that are consciously creative (original and ground-breaking, appealing to those thirsting for a novel experience), cool (hip or pop, appealing to the savvy), or commercial (out for the mass appeal). Clearly, the most celebrated and successful of works manages to simultaneously appeal to all three sensibilities.

Thing is, going the commercial route has this huge honking set of advantages — the ability to actually know mass tastes with usability and focus testing, the relative ease of cloning lots of other people’s hard-won and long-proven design decisions, oh, and return on investment… the safest way to go when there’s an actual money involved.

Is there a process or team dynamic that can to keep these three tensions more in balance — especially given the overwhelming power of commercial?

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