What’s our game like? Explaining games to a target audience according to how I see it

Posted on July 25, 2014

I usually get the impression that whenever people mention a game they’ve found to be good, they mention the wow-factor. This got me thinking, is it really that important to include something in a game that is really unique, just to get the “Wow!”-mentality into heads of your customers?

This is what I thought I was going to read about in Tom Francis blog post GDC Talk: How To Explain Your Game To An Asshole [1], how the wow-factor is everything and real gameplay is secondary. I was sort of right, Francis uses the words “cool”, “wow” and “innovative” a total of nine times in his post. While I understand that he’s giving his readers the impression he is an asshole and this is the way they should treat him (lots of “cool”s seems to the trick), I started to wonder, do I really want to explain games to assholes? Really? Sure, they could be paying customers one day. But then you’re pretty much stuck in a never-ending loop of asshole dependency. And are most people really assholes? To be honest, I think not. People are usually pretty independent and respectful creatures. Why not treat them that way instead of pretending they’re assholes?

The point I’m trying to bring forward is not to underestimate your audience, which I also mentioned in last week’s post. Most of the times when I try to explain the games I’m making to people they actually ask me quite detailed questions about story and gameplay. I was thinking about how to explain our current game here on our website and while I was browsing some material on how others have done their presentations it hit me, maybe I want to tell our audience the exact same things that makes me thrilled about the game. After all, they probably want to be in a position where they’re not treated like idiots, or assholes if you want.

So, here it goes. Our first game is called Stupid Survivor. The name itself says a lot. You control a character that is running around inside burning buildings (which happens to be where this character lives) trying to save as much stuff as possible while on the same time trying not to get rescued by the actual heroes of the game, the firefighters. It has a very hectic game flow, in and out as fast as you can. Save that painting you got from grandma last Christmas. Don’t forget your 15-year old TV. Why not make the game a little bit more exiting by actually helping the firemen putting out the fire, it’s your home after all. But not too much help, all of a sudden they could just rescue you and then who is going to save that invaluable stamp collection?

Are you starting to see a picture here? Good, that means you’re probably in the target audience of our game. I believe most people can use their imagination to picture some kind of game here. And that’s the ‘trick’ I like to use when reaching out to an audience. A lot of good books use the same trick. Get the audience sucked in to the wonderful world of imagination, a world of no boundaries. And them leave them there, only feed them small bits at a time, constantly evolving that wonderful imagination world they all have built up. That’s one of the things C.S. Lewis taught me through his autobiography Surprised by Joy (I highly recommend reading it, even if you’re not a fan of Lewis).

You think I could have mentioned more about actual gameplay and mechanics? Sure, I will, but not now. You see, the trick, start big and then feed only small portions. Isn’t this way of explaining games way more fascinating? And not once did I have to use the words “cool”, “wow” and “innovative” to do that. Whatever unique parts the game might have in it, I’m sure the gamers can find them themselves. And then tell others about it. That’s treating your audience the way they’re worth being treated. Don’t you agree?




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