“Coraline [was] a huge risk. But these days in animation, the safest bet is to take a risk.” –Henry Selick
Many people are risk averse. It’s one of humanity’s natural proclivities. It’s an offshoot of our loss aversion, where we put much greater weight on preserving what we have rather than acquiring more. $20 is not $20 – we value it differently depending on whether we already have it or not.
The problem is that sometimes the safest bet is to take a huge risk. Uncertain victory is better than certain, gradual defeat.
You see this in high-budget Hollywood movies and AAA video games all the time. In an effort to reduce risk, the producers try to please everybody, so they slowly sand off all the edges to make the movie or game more palatable to the general public…only to end up with a mediocre product that nobody really likes. You also see it in careers, where many people will choose a certain, crappy job over the uncertain possibilities of a much better job every single time.
The shows I’ve been blogging over at RandomC this season are instructive in this matter. Mahouka is a divisive story, one that some people love and others hate. That’s good! Better to have diehard fans even if it means haters as well, rather than a bunch of people who don’t really care. As for No Game No Life, it’s the characters themselves who know this lesson the best.
Don’t be afraid of risk. It’s better to risk big, even if you fail, rather than guarantee your defeat by accepting mediocrity. That’s a risk too, it’s just not a very good one.