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When I was in school for Wildlife Management, we learned pretty much the same thing about hunting. More money gets made by, outfitting companies, tour guides and local communities by having a lottery style big game hunt than an open season. It attracts a few people who are willing to spend upwards of $20000 just to shoot one animal as opposed to many hunters coming in and not spending as much overall. It also tends to be better for the survival of the population as a whole though it does tend to lead to an overall weakening of the population though as only the biggest and strongest animals, that should be breeding, get removed.

I think you are taking the metaphor a little bit too literally. :)

I don't understand I think that's my highest rated comment on HN. I gotta admit I wrote it before I actually read the article. I really thought it was going to be about whale watching. I've been trying to figure out if there's some kind of brilliant metaphor in that comment but honestly I can't see one now that I've actually read it.

That's the delight of HN: It's your highest rated comment because it teaches us something about the world we didn't know. It's interesting, if unexpected.

Secondary delight of HN: The top voted comment is from somebody who didn't actually read the article.

Game industry calls people who spend a lot of money on games "whales". I guess it is because whales are supposed to have a lot of meat. None of people who use it knows a lot about biology and whale is likely the only big animal that can be eaten they know.

No it comes from Whaling, as in hunting whales for their spermaceti which was used as a fuel and to make many products. Whale meat is actually not usually sold by whalers. Not a lot of good methods for preserving meat in the 19th C on a boat.

Whaling is compared to businesses that rely on a small number of big spenders to be profitable because whaling is a similar high risk high reward business, compared to fishing. Whaling is even more dangerous than fishing, requires being at sea for a month at a time... if you fail to catch a whale, no one on the ship gets paid. Whalers were paid in equity. A lowly deckhand would make a very small amount compared to a spearman who killed a whale or the captain, but there were rewards for spotting the whale and even the deckhand would probably make enough money to take off work for a while before having to return to sea.

(Anyone else enjoy Moby Dick?)

I don't really think this reading necessarily makes sense considering whales are usually compared to small fish.

Also, not the 19th Century anymore and anybody hunting whales is doing it for meat, because the "rock oil" revolution happened a long time ago.

>Anyone else enjoy Moby Dick?

Yes, but given your slightly OT rant, I suppose your reading is fresh?

No, just excited to get to show off useless whaling knowledge

Yeah, I felt that too, sometimes ;)

The metaphor is more about how types of fish are distributed in the vast 'sea' of gamers. Most of them are small fish, so they don't pay anything or very little for your game. There's also the term dolphins, for people that pay medium-sized amounts or regularly and then whales for people that pour big amounts of money into your game (and like the headline mentions, these can be ridiculous sums).

I understand the metaphor in the article. I just don't understand why my comment that actually has nothing at all to do with the article just keeps on getting upvotes. The article makes sense, my comment after reading it makes none. I thought maybe I'd lucked out and came up with something that somehow was actually related in someway but no it's really not applicable. It really confused me at first when I read down and people were talking about the economy and 99%vs1% below in an article I thought was about literal whales.

Here's how your comment made sense to me even though I had read the article and understood that it's not talking about literal "whales": You mention few customers bringing in the major share of the revenue, and that's exactly what the article linked is about.

I found it hilarious. And it mostly matches the article which is funny.

I read a lot about games and whales, but your comment contained something new and refreshing.

It comes from the casino industry where the big gamblers are "whales". They get all the perks so they can keep on losing money to the house.

Yes this is where I first heard the term “whales.”

I'd imagine whales as slang and whaling metaphors have existed for quite some time. There's the expression "a whale of a tale".

I think for gaming it relates more closely to fishing and whaling, and how fishing is perceived. You're not hunting fish, you're fishing. I know poker uses both fish and whales as slang. If you rely on a couple big customers or players then you're waiting for that one big catch most of the time. Whales weren't just caught for their edible meat, and the other products such as oil were likely more important in the past.

Finance/trading does the same.

> I guess it is because whales are supposed to have a lot of meat.

I heard it was because Kerry Packer was overweight.

I came to the article to find out how whale watching tour companies were making most of their money from a few customers. This likely comes from growing up in the pacific north West of North America. It wasn’t until Zynga was mentioned that I caught on.

Exactly the same here, I wouldn't have clicked if I knew there were no actual whales involved.

> ..though it does tend to lead to an overall weakening of the population though as only the biggest and strongest animals, that should be breeding, get removed.

This is true only if it is presumed that the hunter is absolutely proficient.

I mention this because it would be reasonable to assume, based on "survival of the fittest" ideology, that an in-proficient selection-by-omission process would play a role in breeding more evasive and/or fiercer competitors.

They don't have to be absolutely proficient if you've got enough of them.

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