To persuade, not to inform

Part of creating games is getting people interested in making your game. You not only have to have a solid idea, you have to be able to express that idea in a way that grabs people’s attention. While marketing is handled by someone besides the game designer, the designer still has to pitch there ideas to the powers that be to get it green lit. It seems that students don’t understand this concept, especially when they begin to tell others about their ideas.

It all starts with a concept, be it narrative, innovative game mechanic or a combination of the two. When you start to talk about your game, you should let people know why they should listen to you. There have been some pretty atrocious game pitches through out time. I’m assuming this just from the number of ones I’ve had to sit through in classes.

Remember this key point: You are trying to persuade, not inform, the audience that your game is good.

Persuading an audience on a topic involves some key points (taken from Aristotle’s writings on public speaking). First, you have to get the audience’s attention. This is important in any public address. You don’t want your audience falling asleep when you are trying to talk to them. Next, you need to present concepts backed up by facts! Recently I had to pitch a game for my Studio 2 class. For many different reasons, I want to create an ARG. One of the key things I told the audience in my speech was how ARGs are one of the newest genres of games in the industry. I could back up this concept with facts, such as the first ARG, The Beast, being released in 2001, while genres like FPS, RPG and RTS being over 20 years old.

Once you can prove that something is the case, such as ARGs being the newest genre, you can use these facts to try and persuade the audience that your ideas are correct. In the case of game pitches, you want to persuade them that your game is not only good, but worthy of their time/money to invest in.

One of the worst things you can do is tell the entire plot line of your game. This will make everyone tune out. Focus on key points, not the entire plot line. And be sure you focus on new content more than re-used content. If you have to tell them about content they have seen before (”You have to save a princess”), be sure to reference something they are familiar with (”You have to save a princess from a tower, like in Rapunzel”) and add what makes your content new (”You have to save a princess from a tower, like in Rapunzel, but instead of a prince, you play her female love interest”).

It’s also good to know who you are addressing in your presentation. If you are talking to content artist, be sure to point out the type of content they will be creating, etc. It never fails that I have to sit through the entire plot of a game pitch, just to have to ask “What does it do that’s new?” Get to the meat and potatoes of the game, don’t start with how the table is set.

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One Response to To persuade, not to inform

  1. Brian says:

    For our applied class, you had the most professional pitch, which is part of the reason I asked to join the project.
    And see how well that has worked out? 😉

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