Transformative Experiences

Posted on Nov 06, 2011 by Michael Gugel in Gaming, Psychology

I was addicted to poker.  It was an awesome addiction though — I loved the ups and I loved the downs. And in the end, it made me a wiser and a much stronger person.

It started playing poker when I was a senior in high school.  At lunch time, you could find me huddled in the dark corner of the cafeteria with a bunch  friends, playing Texas Hold’em for dimes.

In the next few years,  poker consumed my mind.  There were quite a few days when I played 16-hours, stopping only to pee and eat.  I read tons of books, posted a ton on forums, and started a popular poker blog.  Over 6 years, I played roughly 500,000 hands and made decent money for a college kid.

Frank Lantz is right when he calls poker vulgar, violent, dirty, shameful, dangerous, and addictive.  But he’s also right when he says there’s an underlying beauty.  The vast majority of people will never see it.  But if you take the time to actually master the game, it changes the way you think about the world.

Playing poker transformed me.  I can’t say the same about many other games, movies, music, or works of art.  And transformative experiences can be INSANELY profitable if a business can deliver them consistently.  It’s no coincidence that self-help books fly off the shelves.

Charlie Cleveland had a great chart in his 1-Hour Video Game MBA presentation that summed it up nicely:

Sidenote: Charlie Cleveland was one of the founders of Natural Selection.  Natural Selection was 2nd best game (poker is 1st) that I’ve ever played.

Transformation, Experience, Service, Good, and Commodity

As you move towards the top of the chart, customers are more willing to pay a higher price.

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