We’re at Beta on the game at the moment, which means the end of the project is in sight and in a few months people will be playing the game that has been almost two years in the making. So, I’ve been doing some thinking about how much work goes into making entertainment, and how that correlates to how much time it takes to consume it.
Here’s a quick and dirty list I’ve made, using incredibly rough math:
I’ve made giant, sweeping generalisations based on my limited experience with making these things, and I know there’s examples in each medium that break the numbers like a baby sticking a knife into a toaster. There are video games made by two guys in a week. There are movies that have taken five years with a team of 400 to make. There are webcomics that are churned out by a lone hack in fifteen minutes (ahem).
So what can we learn from the numbers, though? I’m not entirely surprised by them, especially the video game one. It probably explains why I get such a comparative buzz out of doing a comic that’s updated daily instead of being a small part of one video game a year or two. Comics being somewhere in the middle of the list makes sense in the fact that it’s feasible that anyone can do it, but not everyone does.
The better the ratio, the more accessible the task is – or at least appears to be. A lot of people comment on fashion. A lot of people write blog posts or think they can write a book.
Also, the better the ratio, the quicker the path to surface-level accomplishment is. And by that I mean. the feeling of having done something to a first pass level of detail without the novelty wearing off.
Anyone can make a webcomic, it’s easy, right? Just draw – heck you don’t even need that step these days – and upload it and wait for the money trucks to come in over the horizon. Of course, it’s not as easy as that. Making a success at anything, even a thing that has a nice low ratio – takes a phenomenal amount of dedication, skill and patience… and even then it might never work.
But hang on a second, let’s go further with these numbers – look what happens when you factor in the scale of how many people consume the work:
Things change a lot – except for Architecture, which must be pretty cool to do. Look at how much work goes into less reward for many of these activities. Kinda depressing. Though the ones that are successful are the ones that can scale efficiently and have audiences that are way off the chart, statistically speaking. Funny Webcomic doesn’t make millions, but Penny Arcade does, because their audience is crazy more than mine and the “product” takes roughly the same amount of time to make.
Something to think about at any rate. What do you take from this?