Every single day I’m inspired by the enormous creativity exploding in our game, experience, whatever you want to call it. It has changed me, and I think our whole team, about how we approach this product. Our players are now the creators and we work hard to step out of their way. When we launched Digital Dollhouse in 2008, I was very schoolmarmy strict about all the “rules”- No transfer of Victorian items to the Modern Beach House etc. Because people were going to execute against my vision and have fun damn it! Even though Ruby and Elynn (one of our original producers) pleaded with me not to be such a tyrant, I couldn’t help myself. I thought it was all about some sort of proper way to play. And for a while it worked. We had beautiful, well-structured rooms. Some of them even made the cover of ArchitecturalDigest.com and I thought “Wow am I smart, I’ve helped some players showcase their awesome design talents…They are now designers.” But interestingly, the site wasn’t growing quickly. We weren’t making money and the traffic I thought we would get from AD never amounted to much.
The team made an important pivot last year (after lots of internal drama) to look at things differently. One of our clever players wrote us and said she did not see herself as a “player” but as a “digital hobbyist.” A Digital hobbyist is someone who creates their own rules. Often a hobbyist will create their own community that reflects their own passions. As Ruby and I started communicating more and more with our amazing players, we began to see that what has been created on Dreamhouse Designer is not a computer game with specific rules and responses but a new and exciting version of the quilting bee. As our tech group started creating more tools forour digital hobbyists to create their own furniture, their own wallpaper and showcase their own groups, the Quilting Bee metaphor solidified and the game has started to grow.
We are so proud of the incredible work and effort our designers put into their designs, their groups and keeping us on our toes. It is like hosting a party every day where your guests are making the most fabulous things and sharing them with the world. As hard as this process has been, the team and I are forever grateful for having the opportunity. I am reading Seth Godin’s “The Linchpin” and am learning the difference between being a cog-just holding down a job or running a company- and being an artist in caring about what you do and trying to create products that change people. I didn’t know that I would be the first person on that list. So I’m sending a moment of gratitude out to our digital hobbyists and my team. YOU are the product that has changed me.