Robin Hunicke only had five minutes to talk in our lightning round at GamesBeat Summit 2017. But the cofounder of indie game studio Funomena made good use of her time.

Hunicke entitled her talk “A letter to Blue Ocean developers,” a reference to Blue Ocean Strategy, which advises entrepreneurs to seek out the blue ocean, rather than fight with the sharks in the red ocean where there is too much competition for food. She praised developers who try to strike out for the blue ocean, making games that haven’t been done before or are innovative in some way.

She thanked indie game developers for existing in a time of turmoil when so much is changing in the game industry. She said she understands how they might feel like there’s no point, with so much chaos in world politics and also an apparent lack of appreciation for innovation in the mass market for games.

Hunicke teaches game design at the University of California at Santa Cruz, and she reminded working developers that young people want to become just like them. Hunicke worked on Thatgamecompany’s award-winning Journey game, and she is also working on titles such as Wattam, Luna, Woorld, and Terra at the indie game studio Funomena.

“Games have always been a place where the weird is celebrated,” Hunicke said. “Even when it doesn’t make a lot of money or doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

It was a short message, but it was like soul food for game developers.

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