7 Tips to Showcase Your Game At an Event- Part 1 of 2

As a game developer, you understand the importance of participating in events where you can showcase your game. It's great for testing your game, validating your game idea or even just promoting the game, and getting people to talk about it.

But without a great plan and knowing the right way to showcase your game successfully, you may not get the best out of it.

In October 2017, I got the chance to showcase a prototype of my game Musa- a brother's story at IGN convention in Bahrain, and I must say that I really got the best out of that opportunity. So I decided to use that experience and share with you my best 7 tips to successfully showcase your video game.

Tip # 1

Define your purpose

In order for you to achieve your goal, you first need to define it. Why are you showcasing your game? What do you hope to achieve from it? In case of my game, I wanted to validate my idea. I wanted to know if people would consider playing a game about refugees and if they would consider paying for such a game. So with that in mind, I could plan accordingly.

So define your purpose. Do you want to promote your game? Do you want to test it for bugs? Do you want to get funded for your game? Are you looking to build a team and for the right people? Once you have this down, the rest gets easy.

Tip #2

Design the Experience

Remember this is not a game jam, where you can have an unfinished game with zero polish. This is an event where people expect more. Even in the case of a prototype, design the user experience. In a loud event, without you being able to tell the user what to do, is your game intuitive enough to allow independent gameplay? If you come across a bug, can you exit and restart quick enough without losing your user?

For Musa, even though it was just a very basic prototype, I had a menu screen, an "About Musa" button, which could be clicked and you could read about the game, and an intro screen before gameplay starts that mentions the objectives and the controls for the game. This way if I'm not available at my booth, someone can still pick up a controller and play my game as they would play a fully finished game. I even had a small finishing animation that would loop back to the main menu after the player achieved the objective.

On day 1 of the two day event, I did realize something I hadn't thought of. Game abandonment or my game breaking in the middle of a level. So whenever someone would give up, I would have to do the whole level, complete the objective, watch the final animation and then loop back to the main menu. So at the end of day 1, I did three things. Programmed the "Home" button to skip to main menu from wherever in the game I am, programme the "R" key to restart the level, and update my intro screen with this new information. Communication is so important.

Think about it. When you buy and play a game, does the developer call you and tell you what the game is about? No. So you shouldn't be doing the same at an even either. Design a great experience. It takes just a few extra hours of work but it's totally worth it.

Tip #3

Prepare Marketing Stuff

This means business cards, banners, or anything shiny and pretty to catch a passerby's eye to come to your booth. Also, you want marketing stuff that you can give away, and ways for people to reach you. Again you can do this via business cards, or fliers. Make sure you have an email, a phone number, your social media handles and any relevant ways to contact you on all your marketing stuff. What's the point of creating a great game (or prototype) if no one knows where to find out more about it? So do this way before the event starts. And one more tip: make generic marketing materials, not specific to any event. That way you can use these in multiple events and avoid wastage.

Bonus Tip!: Don't get bogged down by design. If you don't have access to great design softwares and short on time, then using something as simple as Powerpoint, you can create your materials. That's what I used to create my business cards and my roll-up banner below:

Tip #4

Create a Feedback Mechanism

If like me, your aim is to get feedback, validate your idea or test your game, make sure you have a detailed survey for the purpose prepared way before the event. You don't want to ask someone face to face on the day what they "think" about your game. You will never get an unbiased opinion. Instead create a survey with specific questions about your game, things you are burning to know.

Another tip: keep it online. It's much easier to read (no terrible handwritings), already sorted in a readable format and the anonymity of doing something online could get you further unbiased opinion.

Also, keep it short and simple. With Musa, I had a google form survey, asking people specific questions. I used a rating question (out of 5) to rate elements of the game such as: gameplay, music, story, art style and overall. Using just one question, I got answers to 5.

I asked people if they would buy my game (yes, no, maybe) and how much they would pay for it (choose from options). The less people need to write, the better. I did have two open questions: what was their favorite part of the game, and what would they improve?

With this simple under 10 question survey, I got enough data to be able to analyze and actually put in my business plan under my game feedback section. Check out these questions below:

So remember. Get data. Design a way to get the right data. It's beautiful.

So that's 4 tips for you here. I have 3 more juicy tips but this article is getting too long for my taste, and so I'll share these with you next week. See you soon!

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