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November 27, 2020
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Kliuless #60: The Bus Ticket Theory of Genius

by Kenneth Liu on 12/02/19 10:19:00 am   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

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The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


Kliuless? Gaming Industry Insights #60

Hi, my name is Kenny Liu, and each week I compile a gaming industry insights newsletter that I publish broadly. Opinions are mine.

See more or subscribe at:

The Bus Ticket Theory of Genius

  • "The Bus Ticket Theory of Genius" by Paul Graham, co-founder of famed startup incubator Y Combinator
  • "Everyone knows that to do great work you need both natural ability and determination. But there's a third ingredient that's not as well understood: an obsessive interest in a particular topic. [...] If I had to put the recipe for genius into one sentence, that might be it: to have a disinterested obsession with something that matters"
  • "The paths that lead to new ideas tend to look unpromising. If they looked promising, other people would already have explored them. How do the people who do great work discover these paths that others overlook? The popular story is that they simply have better vision: because they're so talented, they see paths that others miss. But if you look at the way great discoveries are made, that's not what happens. Darwin didn't pay closer attention to individual species than other people because he saw that this would lead to great discoveries, and they didn't. He was just really, really interested in such things"
  • "But there are some heuristics you can use to guess whether an obsession might be one that matters. For example, it's more promising if you're creating something, rather than just consuming something someone else creates. It's more promising if something you're interested in is difficult, especially if it's more difficult for other people than it is for you. And the obsessions of talented people are more likely to be promising. When talented people become interested in random things, they're not truly random"
  • "But the most exciting implication of the bus ticket theory is that it suggests ways to encourage great work. If the recipe for genius is simply natural ability plus hard work, all we can do is hope we have a lot of ability, and work as hard as we can. But if interest is a critical ingredient in genius, we may be able, by cultivating interest, to cultivate genius"


  • Why Journey's last song was the hardest to compose
  • How storytelling creates value in games: interview with Sam Lake, creative director at Remedy Entertainment (Max Payne, Alan Wake, Control et. al.)
  • "10 Years with Hayao Miyazaki," a docuseries of Studio Ghibli's legendary co-founder


  • NetEase buys minority stake in Bossa Studios
  • Roblox Mobile Has Grossed >$1bn in Lifetime Revenue
  • Top 1% of mobile publishers take 82% slice of downloads
  • Gwent mobile made up 68% of CD Projekt Red's post-launch revenue
    • "CEO confirmed that the 'vast majority' of iOS users are new to Gwent and have not transitioned over from PC and console"
  • Deconstructor of Fun: How Call of Duty Mobile left $100M on the Table

XR: AR / MR / VR

  • Phil Spencer: "Nobody's asking for VR" on Xbox
  • Beat Saber is now an Oculus studio after Facebook acquisition
  • Skin machine enables physical pain in virtual reality for first time
  • Verizon & Snap team up for Snapchat 5G augmented reality features
  • Samsung XR teams up with LiveXLive Media for live AR/VR music experiences

Esports & Influencers


  • Tencent partners Chinese live streaming platform
  • How live-streaming site Huya uses mobile to beat its larger competitor at its own game

Tech / Entertainment

  • Snapchat's journey to be a "gaming destination"  
  • TikTok Owner ByteDance Continues Expansion Efforts with Music Streaming and Possible Rebrand
  • Spotify’s Plan to Create "the World’s No. 1 Audio Platform"
  • Atomico's annual report on state of European tech


  • Valve discontinues Steam Controller
  • Polygon: 10 indie games to look out for in 2020
  • Toadman Interactive buys Sold Out for £16 million
  • Russian Cows Fitted With Virtual-Reality Headsets
  • Google hires senior Assassin’s Creed devs for first Stadia studio
  • Former Go champion beaten by DeepMind retires after declaring AI invincible
  • HBR: How to Deflect Difficult Questions in an Interview or Negotiation

See more or subscribe at:

LinkedIn: @kliuless

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