What does “Beware of the Leopard” have to do with the Business of Digital Media?
The URL “bewareoftheleopard.ca” is inspired by a passage of Douglas Adams’ iconic novel, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. If you have not yet read it, I highly recommend it.
The setting for this particularly inspiring passage is Arthur Dent’s home. It is about to be destroyed so it can be replaced by a highway bypass. He is protesting by lying in the mud in front of a bulldozer. He questions the foreman:
“Why’s it got to be built?”
The foreman responds, “What do you mean, why’s it got to be built? It’s a bypass. You’ve got to build bypasses.”
Upon further questioning, the conversation continues as follows:
“But Mr. Dent, the plans have been available in the local planning office for the last nine months.”
“Oh, yes, well, as soon as I heard I went straight round to see them, yesterday afternoon. You hadn’t exactly gone out of your way to call attention to them, had you? I mean, like actually telling anybody or anything.”
“But the plans were on display…”
“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
“That’s the display department.”
“With a flashlight.”
“Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”
“So had the stairs.”
“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
“Yes, yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying, ‘Beware of the Leopard.’”
What does any of this have to do with the business of digital media? Well, everything.
People now spend their hard earned money on items that do not physically exist in the tangible world. En masse, it takes seconds for even a semi-loyal group to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on virtual goods in social and mobile games, self-published digitally distributed games, and download-to-own expansion packs. Suddenly, professionals who have thus only been lightly involved with developing games are needing to become publishers, distributors, and marketing experts – overnight.
Those with backgrounds in traditional, screen-based content like film and television have also undergone a massive shift. Broadcasters compete with the Internet, new ‘over–the-top’ transmission services, and the increasing fragmentation of audiences. The Canadian Television Fund has transitioned into the Canada Media Fund, which now also contributes to interactive content, webisodes, and games for multiple platforms. The various levels of Canadian governmental media agencies are doing their best to keep up with the increasing demands of the ”digital economy.” For many in the film and television industry, this shift into the era of “leaning forward” (as opposed to sitting back) probably feels like a huge shift that no one told them about.
For digital media professionals (including game studios and developers), trying to find your place amongst the ”establishment” probably also feels like a secret club when it comes to accessing money to fund your ideas and grow your business.
BewareoftheLeopard.ca and the services offered are both about helping you with the flashlight to get down into the cellar to find the plans in the disused lavatory, labelled with something that seemingly has zero relevance to what it is you are actually looking for, so you can access the information and knowledge that you need to succeed.
And hopefully we can keep your house from getting bulldozed for a highway bypass.