Steam Greenlight: An Analogy

Imagine you’ve been kayaking at the beach are now heading for shore. You’re riding a massive, powerful series of waves, and it feels like you’ll be there in no time. Then the wave disperses, and it occurs to you that you’ve made no progress for several minutes. It soon dawns on you that you’ve been trapped by a devilish riptide.

Now you’re paddling furiously, trying to inch your way closer to the beach. Time ticks past – it feels like you’ve been out here forever. Sometimes you make a little progress, sometimes you are pulled back a little. Very gradually, you’re closing the distance between yourself and the shore. Then you catch a break – a freak wave grabs you and drags you many feet closer, carrying you further in an instant than all of your strained paddling has managed. It’s exhilarating, although it does feel slightly unfair that the gods have so much more power over the situation than you do.

Still – if you were to relax, you would quickly be swept back to where you were previously and beyond. And so you continue sweeping the paddle to your left and right, arms straining, inching your way toward dry land. A lot more time passes. You are nearly ready to give up when another wave hits. This pattern repeats: long, silent struggles punctuated by brief moments of ecstatic progress.

Finally, the beach seems to be within reach. Now every inch gained feels precious as breath, and each loss like a splinter shaved from your soul. And the losses are coming more frequently now – several for every gain. Your arms burn. You’re slipping, losing your grip on your oars, about to lose everything.

And then that final wave arrives – the one that carries you in a graceful, soaring arc and deposits you panting on the sand. You feel a little relief, of course. But the elation you expected to surge through you is absent. You’ve survived Steam Greenlight, yes, but where does that actually get you, in and of itself?

Only to the threshold. Now the real work begins…

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