Law of Small Numbers

Variability is high in small sample sizes.

Want to know what life is like for the average game developer? Try asking a few. The problem is a small sample of a few developers may not represent the larger community. You could have found some who had a relatively easy time putting out their titles. Maybe you found devs that were inexperienced. Your sample may not be at all representative of a typical game developer experience. If you really want to answer this question, you have to start by collecting a nice big helping of responses from as many devs as possible.

A common fallacy based on this mental model is hasty generalization. This is when someone draws conclusions about a large group, based on limited information or the behavior of a small subset of that group. Hasty generalizations are everywhere in the gaming community; from Gamergate, to accusations of misogyny, the racism of gamers and the overall toxicity of the community. Be very careful with the conclusions you draw, based on the actions of a few.

The law of small numbers can also be applied in reverse. We might look at what is average and use that as a future predictor. If, for example, we find thirty developers that have built successful platformers, and on average iy took them 1,000 hours of development time to complete, we might assume developing a platformer would take a similar amount of time for us. The problem is, the average is not necessarily representative of an individual experience. It is much more useful to look at other factors like experience, skillsets, and scope when trying to develop an accurate timeline.