An archive of posts tagged conference.

How To Improve Your Video Game Pitch

4 min read

I’ve seen my game pitches in my time, and I’ve made quite a few myselfbut I’m continually amazed and just what some people think they’redoing.  Think about all those poor saps who’ve been sent to theslaughter on “X Factor” for our amusement when they totally and utterlyfail to deliver anything that a mother wouldn’t love.  Think about allthose sorry ideas you’ve seen on Dragon’s Den that are just pitiful. Butit doesn’t have to be this way…When I’ve been on the receiving end, it often feels like “X Factor”, theperson pitching stands up, stumbles to introduce themselves and thenproceeds to claim they’ve got the best thing you’ve ever seen, all theirfriends and colleagues have seen it and they’re passionate about it.It’s the next GTA, or God Of War, or Forza…and then….sitting on theedge of my seat I wait…out comes the pitch and the presentation to gowith it. I finally get to see something and oh dear, oh dear, it rarelylives up to the hype and expectations that the person pitching sets.The sad part is, some of the games are actually fundamentally good andit’s just that pitch itself and / or the person pitching is bad. Both ofthese are fixable or at least made a little bit easier.Here’s a few pointers to get you started X Statement. Produce a concise statement that sums up yourgame succinctly. It should capture the essence of what you’re gameis about and set realistic expectations. It’s difficult to do, andeven harder to do well, but the thought behind it will cause you toexplore what you’re really pitching. Who Am I? What Am I doing? Why do I care? These are things Iwant to know as a gamer, to check if this is something I want toplay. Ask yourself these questions to ensure that you’ve coveredthese key topics in your pitch. Would your mother understand it? When you’ve written your pitch,ask yourself if your mother would understand what you’re saying orshowing. This may seem silly but remember that the people you’repitching to have to understand your proposition in 15-20 minutes.They haven’t lived with every nuance of the design for months andknow everything you’re implying. It’s all about you. There are many case studies that show that alarge part of someone accepting the pitch is whether they like theperson (and team) pitching the idea. If you come across asunsure, incompetent, uncaring then why would you care should you getthe work? This can be a tough one to crack when you’ve taken thesame idea around lots of people but it’s very important to getright. Stay fresh or go home. Make every word and image count. Optimise the life out of yourpresentation when it’s ready to make sure you’re maximising yourpresentation time, communicating efficiently and clearly, notrepeating key statements and getting everything you want to say inthere. Keep it simple This is a little different to point 3, I’mreferring to the content itself. Your objective is to hook theperson and start a conversation about your pitch. Shy away fromgoing into uber detail that would scare someone off, keep numbers toa minimum, keep the text light on each page. Practise, practise, practice. I mean this. Really practice yourpitch, think about every word. The reason is that when it comes topresentation time you’ll know what you’re going to say, remembereverything you want to get across and also, critically, be moreconfident about what you’re doing.I would say that I have a pet hate, which is that the most common phraseI hear has to be  ”Pixar Style Animation” and it fills me with dread.There are 2reasons: Pixar communicates a style and ethos all of it’s own that goesdeeper than just it’s animation, it’s about how it makes you feel.There’s an emotion they’re you just can’t put into words, but it’sthere and it’s what makes it so good. More importantly you’ve set my expectations very high and I’mmore likely to be thinking “Prove It” or “I bet it isn’t” beforeI’ve seen anything. I’m instantly on the back foot and expectingfailure. What is the person trying to say in the 1st place?I’m allfor setting aspiration goals but you need to be able to prove them.Above all, do what you say you’re going to do.There are many similar phrases that you just simply have to be able toback up. Think about what expectations your setting and if they exist inthe real world before promising them. Would you fall for it?SummarySo, there it is, a few pointers on mostly what to avoid when preparingyour pitch and doing the presentation itself. Take your time, make sureyou’re ready, don’t rush and remember. To fail to prepare is to prepare to failIf you’re business depends on it, it’s worth the time and effort to getit right and get a professional to run through it with you! Shamelessselfplug.;)As always, if there’s something more you’d like to know, post a commentor contact me directly.###UPDATE:I’ve followed up with more information in ‘How To Improve YourPitch – Part 2‘Further Reading Presentation Zen - a blogdedicated to sharing the best presentation tips PresentationZen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery(Voices ThatMatter) -a great book that sets the basis for great presentations Presentation ZenDesign: Simple Design Principles and Techniques toEnhance Your Presentations (Voices ThatMatter) -a partner book that focuses ondesign

Getting the most out of E3 Expo 2010

5 min read

Well, it’s almost here, E3 Expo 2010 and it will be followed by manyother opportunities to get out there andnetwork: Game Connection,Develop, Gamescom, and if you’re lucky, Tokyo Game Show, etc.Over the years, I’ve attended my of these events as both someonepitching and someone listening to other peoples pitches and I have a fewtips to share.By now, you’ve obviously spent a lot of time, effort and moneycarefully preparing your pitch andpolished your presentation.You’ve no doubt booked a flight, hotel, got some spending money and needto feed yourself and probably some clients too. Your team have packedyou off with some good wishes and are waiting for you to let them knowhow it went. You may have family waiting on you too. All of this is amassive commitment and you’ve got a lot riding on it.Start with the least importantWhen scheduling your meetings, try an schedule your least important onesfirst; maybe even with some people that you’re not interested in.The reason is that it will give you some real-life experience ofpitching in the environment and enable you to debug you’re pitch andtweak if before you get to the big boys. This can be a good way ofweeding out problems with your demo, powerpoint deck, laptop, pointer,screen brightness too.You’ll also get feedback that you can incorporate into your pitch, maybethese are in the form of questions that you are asked that you can thenthink about a really good answer for.Pick your slotBe aware of the typical fluctuations in a persons attention span andlikely state.I’d hedge my bets on the best time being late morning, just beforelunch.Early mornings can fall foul of preceding heavy nights out partying orjetlag. Try and avoid these is possible. If you get time, take a peek atthe party schedule and avoid the day after.Afternoons are usually toughest, as people grow weary through thedraining aspect of running back-to-back meetings in hot, brightly litenvironments, battling against a lack of sleep and the onset of jetlag.Take OwnershipYou’ll be meeting lots of people and have a lot to remember, but, sowill the people you’re meeting and you need to make sure you’re at thetop of their pile when it comes to getting your game signed.Firstly, be clear and concise in what you say. Make everything count anddon’t expect anyone to remember everything you said.Assuming you’re pitch went well, you need to secure 2 things: Get Their Contact details. Make sure these are for the rightperson who you’ll be dealing with, who may be different to the personyou’re presenting to, which leads on to…2. How, when, where for you to follow up. Try and get thingspre-defined, “lets have a catchup call next Wednesday at 3pm” is betterthan “I’ll call you soon”. Aim to secure meeting dates too don’t letthese slip.Miss these two and you’ve just wasted your time, don’t rely on thelistener to chase you, you can bet your last dollar that there will beother people shouting louder than you and getting some attention.If you find that the listener won’t commit, then you can probably takeit as a sign they’re not interested and it’s time to move on. the squeaky wheel gets thegreaseDealing with rejectionWell, dealing with someone not being interested in your pitch cansometimes be hard but don’t take it personal. Try and find out why, thelistener will often be able to give you a good indication of what youneed to change before the next pitch. Take this as an opportunity toadapt your presentation for the next person you meet.There’s a lot of reasons they make not take up you’re offer and here’s acouple of non-obvious ones. Pitch Went Bad. Maybe you fluffed it, maybe you’re laptopbattery expired, maybe the listener got distracted with what they’rehaving for lunch. There’s no real answer here, sometimes it just doesn’tgo the way you wanted it.2. “we have similar titles in our portfolio” is a typical push off froma listener and most of the time it’s genuinely down to something thatalready exists or something they have in development elsewhere. There are rare occasions when they want to take your idea and make itthemselves, claiming this is something they had in production already.This can be something as big as the game, or something as small as agame mechanic. There’s nothing you can do about this except to expect it on rareoccasions. I’ve only seen this happen a handful of times across a 20yrcareer and it’s always heart wrenching to see.Do You HomeworkYou can be in a much strong position by doing your homework on thecompany and person you’re meeting beforehand. This will not only exposeany likely competition for your game but also enable you to come acrossas interested in them. All it takes is a bit of Google action to take care of it for the mostpart. People can be harder to find but I’d try[blippr]LinkedIn[/blippr] andMobyGames as a starting point.What next?I’ll repeat this here because it’s REALLY IMPORTANT!Always get confirmation on next steps, try and arrange a follow up call / meeting, GET THEIR CONTACT DETAILSPerpetual ImpressionAs a little aside, remember that every interaction will persist throughyour career as everyone moves around and over time the associateproducer you dismissed at a small publisher could end up being in chargeof acquisitions for a large international publisher later in your careerwhen you really need them. A buyer never forgetsWARNING: Don’t pitch if you’re unsure. It’s not worth it in the longrun.SummaryAttending one of these huge conventions is an exciting and importanttime, everyone always enjoys it and always has good stories to tell.Although some of those stories should never be repeated back home. ;)