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  • Results from the Game Design Challenge: Marketing Bullets

    - Manveer Heir and staff
  •  In a recent Game Design Challenge you, as game designers, were asked to come up with three bullet points to list on the back of a war game.

    While not the most realistic of situations (in practicality, marketing will handle all work of this nature), there are good lessons to be learned here. How can we help our products stand out, when there isn't anything wholly innovative or new about them?

    The difficulty is in trying to make your game stand out with just three marketing bullet points and not fall into the same traps that every other game on the shelf does. Call of Duty, Medal of Honor, Brothers in Arms, and all the other WWII games already are going to talk about their awesome multiplayer, how realistic their combat is, and how intense and cinematic their game is. As a result, trying to compete the same way is going to be difficult. You need to grab a potential customer's attention quickly and hope the rest of the box art takes over to seal the purchase. It would be great if all purchases were pre-meditated by informed buyers, but that's not always the case.

    The best submissions are the ones that thought outside the box and didn't just say how realistic the graphics were and how many players they could have on multiplayer. Rather, they tried to grab the customer's attention in other ways.

    What was most interesting about the submissions was how similar many of them were. Many concentrated just on features in the game, which is an easy way to go. Many entries mentioned online multiplayer or realistic combat. The better entries discussed actions and feelings you would have in the game, which can help customers visualize the experience better.

    On to the best entries.

    Best Entries
    E. McNeill, Dartmouth College, The Code
    (see page 2)
    McNeill's submission was by far the most innovative and compelling, but it also has an element of interactivity. McNeill invites the consumer to start playing the game before she has even made the purchase. Bravo! Or should we say, "alpha, bravo, Charlie..."

    Dean Ray Johnson, The Joe Madden Approach (see page 3)
    Dean Ray Johnson decided that the WWII game in question would already attract players of that genre. Instead of marketing the game to them, he targeted his bullet points toward other mass market game consumers, especially sports video games players. In fact, his explanation is probably stronger than the actual bullet point catch phrases, but we were sold on the concept.

    Honorable Mentions (see page 4)
    Sunil Mulay, lead modeler for games in Mumbai, India, The Verbs and Nouns Approach
    Sunil Mulay's entry very nearly had the number two spot; his second and third bullet are chockfull of descriptive verbs and concrete nouns, inviting the potential to visualize precisely what she or he will be doing in the game. Unfortunately, Mulay's first bullet point was long-winded and not quite as punchy, putting his entry in among the honorable mentions.

    David Linden, Activision, Nintendo TRG QA, The Straightforward Approach
    David Linden's submission was similar to Mulay's, but more typical of what one might expect to see on a WWII shooter game. It's straightforward, but it works.

    Raoul Duke, The "We Have a Sense of Humor" Approach
    We've all known people who become loyal consumers of a particular brand or product based solely on the fact that the ads were hilarious. Roul Duke is clearly aiming for this audience of game players.


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