My guest is Gabe Leydon, who is the co-founder and former CEO of MZ, also known as Machine Zone, the company behind huge games such as Mobile Strike and Game of War. Gabe has spent the last 20 years designing video games and is one of the most original thinkers I have talked to in a long time. In our conversation, we cover why great design can be a bad sign that we’d run out of ways to innovate, the most important lessons from human psychology for building games and products, and why products which are busted or breaking but still booming can be great investment opportunities. This conversation rewired my brain on many levels, so I’m excited for you to listen. Take the red pill with us, and please enjoy my conversation with Gabe Leydon.
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[00:03:59] - [First question] - Thoughts on the importance of design and the role it plays in capitalism writ large
[00:07:26] - Huxley’s vision of the future versus Orwell’s - Amusing Ourselves to Death
[00:10:49] - A question about game design in interviews that no one can answer well
[00:18:27] - What about his early experiences that allowed him to be good at answering that question when others could not
[00:26:35] - Another example to further explain the nature of meta software design mechanics
[00:29:44] - Characteristics of what drives players to spend money in games
[00:34:46] - Defining heroic spending and the group dynamics of spending gamification
[00:38:18] - Skill set required to design an economy and what makes it so difficult
[00:41:27] - Cosmetic purchases as a revenue stream in North American video games
[00:43:56] - What he’s learned about human psychology through his design work
[00:45:48] - How the technological infrastructure developed in building video games overlap in performance marketing
[00:48:44] - His experience with the RT platform and some of the technologies he’s built
[00:55:49] - Celebrity NFTs and a shift to becoming virtual manufacturers in the future
[00:59:58] - What businesses can do now to prepare for and adapt to NFTs
[01:01:03] - Why we need AI more than think we might
[01:04:32] - What he plans to do with his skillset if the world becomes increasingly gamified
[01:05:40] - Companies with poor design may be indicative of an attractive acquisition
[01:08:11] - How differing cultural perspectives on video game design permeate into NFTs
[01:08:46] - Defining the Chinese item box approach to in-game player rewards
[01:11:24] - The kindest thing that anyone has ever done for him