Scarcity and the Canadian Lynx Story

The Canadian Lynx is an interesting predator. It lives almost solely on the snowshoe hare – and is very effective at catching, killing, and eating them. While that is not particularly interesting in itself (a cat predator eating a bunny for dinner) what is fascinating is the lifecycle the Canadian Lynx is doomed to repeat.

Because the Lynx is so effective at catching and killing the snowshoe hare, and as the Lynx breeds and adds more to its family, they end up almost hunting the snowshoe hare to extinction. At this point the Lynx population start dying off because of the scarcity of food. There ends up being a tipping point where the Lynx has almost hunted itself to a dangerous level of near extinction – at which point, the showshoe hare starts repopulating. Rinse repeat. Every 10-14 years or so.

Nature works in such fantastic ways – ideally, if Nature were sensible she would introduce another predator to hunt the Lynx (humans can hunt them, but they are typically in very remote and unseasonable locales) thereby keeping the lynx population fairly consistent, also keeping the snowshoe hare consistent. This does not happen.

In gaming terms I do not believe the population of gamers is growing to the extent to support the companies that make the games, and the excess of titles that are on or coming to market. We are the snowshoe hares and companies are the Lynx. I think we are seeing the result of the nature of the market adjusting for this realization though as games are funded in other ways and the profileration of the indie genre as a viable way of game making once again. This creates different payment and cost styles and overall is healthy for the environment. It is a positive adjustment.

This Lynx metaphor is also a good one for our economy which requires being in a perputal state of growth. Eventually that growth will not be realized and things will reset. Hopefully we are smart enough to not be doomed to repeat like the Lynx.

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