If You Like Coffee Then Also Others Must Like Coffee, Right?

People might have tendency to believe that whatever they generally think is true, is true also for other people. Some people for example like drinking coffee and might think that preparing coffee for meetings is important as “most people will drink coffee”. It just might happen that they are faced with Chinese people who might prefer tea over coffee, but that didn’t occur to them.

If you drink coffee, that doesn’t mean everybody else likes to drink coffee too.

Some days ago I wrote an usability tip and received feedback telling me “best post in weeks”. I was quite surprised. While I think that tip was good I personally liked more posts “what’s good in this situation” and 3rd Party Tools Always Cause Minor Problems. These posts received only one comment in total. This shows how people are different: different people like different things.

It’s same in games (and many other issues as well): whatever you think to be “typical” might not be for everybody or even for “most of the people” as you think. I like playing – and making – online multiplayer games but I must accept the fact that most people on Earth won’t be playing those games. Majority of people like to play single player games. I also generally like working via the Internet and not face-to-face or phone (well, most of the time as I find it more convenient) but that doesn’t mean everybody would be like that. Some people will definitely want to have face-to-face meetings when deciding about some important things.

If you like the art to be drawn in certain way or that your website graphics are done in certain style that means you are preparing the art for you – and cannot really know if others will like that too. If you are making “a game that you like” it doesn’t guarantee that others will like it too. Not before you get people do some marketing research and test your game prototype with other gamers. If you focus on making a game that you think is best it’s like offering only certain type of coffee, with a certain amount of sugar or milk, drinking it from a certain type of cup and believing that everybody else wants their coffee that way. That simple won’t work.

Whether you drink coffee or not doesn’t mean that others would follow your habit. Whatever you think is best for games might not be best for everybody – or even for most people.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. Well… doing something just for you can be okay: who knows if others like it as well. If you like it, it doesn’t guarantee that others would like it – but on the other hand: it doesn’t mean that others wouldn’t like it.

    Just don’t count solely on “your coffee taste”.

  2. Hm…very good advice for things that have to be sold to people who may or may not turn out to be “coffee drinkers”.
    The situation that has drawn me into the oft-overwhelming world of game creation is more like being offered coffee at every meeting and finally resolving to bring in my own personal bottle of Gatorade to sip when nobody else is looking. (Luckily, growing up with Aspie symptoms has prevented me from developing the illusion that anything about me is the norm. ^^’) Doing something just for me if it /stays/ just for me is okay, right? (I really hope I find some buried treasure or something so I can support my hobbies, since I cannot assume anyone else would be interested enough to pay me for them. I really, /really/, hope I never have to live in a cardboard box. And most of all, I hope I get some of my personal projects finished before I die of old age OR starvation.)

    I do know people who would be benefited by this advice in the grand scope of their lives, though. You know, the “What’s wrong with you that you don’t like what I like??? Quick, take some meds for that!” type…Or maybe you do not know, in which case…yay for you! ^^

    Sorry for rambling.

  3. Interesting… as I just read a quote from Eugene Jarvis. He said pretty much the opposite, that he designed games *he* wanted to play. Come to think of it, Kenta Cho said much the same thing recently.

    Of course, no one ever mistakes me for either of those gentlemen :)


  4. Related to the post by S.Lund, I agree pretty much on those thougts. The other wrong end is the assumption and choice of action to please all. That can never be achieved, and correct me if I’m wrong, BUT most of the games that are succesfull have an edge or a view different from the others. I’m quite confident that this “edge” was not achieved by serving everyone a cup of tea and biscuits of their preference.

    However, I do also agree that these “one mans vision of the truely amazing game, and his struggle..bla, bla” (with cinematic boomy voice) are neither a solution. When you have a team that consist of people that like games and play them much, it can be done with conversing about the project. I think it’s almost impossible to get artist or a coder of anysort that have never played games nor have enthusiasim towards this field.

    The cup of coffee (or tea and cookies if you will) shoud be more or less a common understanding of a good game by a group making it. This hardly ever happens anywhere else than in the indie-circles where we are much more free of the limitations of the views of sales persons and those securing risk free non-productive plagiarized copy of the latest hit game…and all that jazz.

    Ok. I’ll bugger off quickly before I get my rant-mode on to the fullest. ;P

  5. Children’s game developers are often thinking of “the customer” and they also notoriously are rated poorly. This advice, which I believe can be summed up with “targetAudience != yourself” should be applied to lots of different areas, in the example of games for children, reviewers often say that the game is too short or too easy, for an 8 year old it is tuned to be much more difficult.

  6. This is very much a problem in hobbyist as well as professional game development. In essence every game developer would like to make a game for themselves. I’ve only come across very few people who were able to distance their own preferences away from the “needs and likes” of the “target audience”.

    To be honest I don’t think it’s an entirely bad thing. I believe in order to develop the best possible game you need to put some of your “blood” into the project. It’s quite obvious when a developer brings a game to market that they have no passion for. It becomes lifeless and bland and lacks the spark that all great games have.

  7. Sorry that I keep posting first, I must check GP too often…

    Anyway, I hate coffee. I take decaf tea with soya milk.

    Futhermore I liked the “what’s good” post for it’s pavlina-esque advice but I think I prefered the useability tip more as it was plain good and reminded me to keep doing it and of previous mess ups I’ve made (even recently). The tools one just kinda bored me but hey – I’m just one guy.

    When developing Oz, there was one thing that I really didn’t groove to but the producer insisted on putting it in. When I tested the game on lots of people, no one really found this feature bad like I thought they would – just goes to show …

Comments are closed.