Scott Mason: You've been quoted as saying you think gaming consoles will see the end of days. So where do think the future lies- is it VR, or augmented reality, or what?
Dean Hall: Well, I mean, I think I was wrong there, you should not listen to what I say, is the first lesson. And no, I think consoles is interesting because consoles have actually adapted and they've just become PC's and you know Microsoft started that trend before. I care about video games because they're video games- I don't care about the what, and the how, and to me the programming is just the means to and end. We tried out VR, I tend to be a bit of a skeptic about a lot of new technologies because I want to see how it's applied and I want to see the monetization model and I want to see people adopt it. And maybe I'll just get more and more bitter and jaded as it goes on but you know I tend to get like that and you know we tried out VR and I think it's definitely got legs but I think I'm just very cautious about throwing money at something that you necessarily can't see the market. And you can totally do that if you've got really deep pockets. Maybe I need deeper pockets before I want to spend too much.
Scott Mason: Fair enough, I was quite horrified when I had a crack at your VR game.
Dean Hall: So were we when we sat down and... (laughter).
Scott Mason: Actually, I was good. (laughter) What blew me away, not being a gamer at all, is how quickly in my suit I was crawling around the floor into firing position.
Dean Hall: We actually had a politician, I won't say who they are, because I think that's a bit unfair. But they were playing one of our earlier games and we actually ended up canceling the game and we joked, sort of to the politician because that it's because we saw they were playing the game. So- that wasn't entirely true but it's a good funny story.
Scott Mason: Good story for the NZTE.
Dean Hall: True, true.
Scott Mason: So we've got a lot of people involved in start ups in the audience tonight. So having reflected on your journey to date what are two or three key lessons that you can share with them.
Dean Hall: I think the most important one is just surround yourself with really really really good people and get rid of the bad people -particularly from that early stage. If you look at I think any start up- big or small -that's ended up being successful in their area it's because they had really good people and got rid of the bad people early on. And I think it's really hard to get through that and that stage but I think that's just one of those obvious things that people just keep saying and if you've got a start up you need to keep that in your head and be playing that devil's advocate. Have we got the right people involved? Are the right people at the strategic level?
I think the second point, which is perhaps more nuanced, is making sure you're doing the right things at the right time, as well. You know a lot of people tend to focus on the things that they're really good at or that seem to be going really well and then you're leaving everything else over there. And then there's another counterpoint which is, and I saw a presentation from one of the executives at Unity. It was a video presentation because his wife was getting birth and so he recorded it. It was in Iceland at a slush-
Scott Mason: The presentation, not the birth! (Laughter)
Dean Hall: And I wasn't expecting it to be good because I was speaking at the conference, so I wasn't really paying any attention. But it was amazing and the guy was talking about how Unity- they make a game engine. He was saying that basically if you're not sort of looking around- he likened it to flying a plane and you think everything's going fine and you look around and everything's on fire. I thought it was kind of a good way of thinking about it. Sometimes if things aren't kind of on fire and going crazy then maybe you haven't sort of got the throttle pushed forward far enough.
And I think the last one to finish on will be what I said before which is planning for success. And so that means thinking about what happens if your product does go viral. Do you have the capacity to deal with it? And the success isn't typically just one thing happening, it's actually a lot of little things. So you need to prepare for all those little success markers and the kind of things you have to punch through.