Friday, November 28, 2008

How to get funding for a game idea?

I have been reviewing game concepts e.g. for the Nordic Game Program (NGP). There are still few lessons to be learned when it comes to pitching a game. My wish is of course to see as many Finnish application on the next round of NGP as possible, thus I though of sharing some ideas which might be useful and helpful for those applying funds for the game production.

Here we go:
1. Follow the instructions
If there is a form, use it and follow the instructions. Do not add any convincing mumbo-jumbo if not asked. Also if an attachment should be 5 pages at the maximum then it is 5 pages max!

2. Credibility
Make sure you have a team which is capable of doing everything you describe at the application. Tell about the business and/or distribution plan. If you have already discussed with some publishers, do not forgot to mention that. Too often there are just vague "online distribution", "pc, xbox, DS, PSP or perhaps mobile" or "Nintendo Wii with 50/50 deal". Eh, yes? Are you sure or perhaps... not?

3. Make the basics very clear
What is the game idea, which platforms, distribution channels, what's the budget, revenue model(s), originality, target group, mechanics, business potential and milestones? Why you are working with this idea? Less and well structured content is more.

4. Application is a written pitch
Think about the application as a whole. It should be easy to read and easy to understand. Picture tells more than 1000 words. Graphics is a way to stand out and add credibility to your application.

5. Address potential problems
Be realistic. The biggest problem cannot be "if we do not get funding, we will not be able to make this game". There are always challenges and problems. Try to address key challenges in beforehand. Perhaps the underlying magic aka technology will generate challenges, maybe marketing is the weakers link? That too will add credibility.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Technologizing youth and Finnish game market in a nutshell

I visited National Board of Education a week ago and got to know KenGuru site which tries to offer a one-stop-shop for teachers on topics related to digital media (e.g. media use, education and learning). Even if the site is not 100% 2.0 (or actually quite far from it) I like the idea and found some very relevant content for teachers who practically do not have enough time or personal interest to get in depth with all the web services, interaction methods or keywords which are everyday to their students. Of course visual presentation would be even better. The event was targeted to teachers. I talked about the media use in general and about different roles youngsters take in virtual communities and interactive services. The presentation was partly based on a report I together with The Finnish Society on Media Education did a couple of weeks ago for the Ministry of Transport and Communications Finland. The goal of the report is to give the basics to educators, parents, politics etc. in a nutshell. The focus of that report is digital media and the age group is under 18 year olds. I can provide a summary in English if you like.

I also visited one event where I learned that there is something like 30 - 40 000 WoW players in Finland (~10 million worldwide). WoW is The mainstream of MMOGs and almost every other is playing WoW but still 40 000 is quite a bit in a country of 5 million inhabitants. Other interesting numbers from Figma (Finnish Games and Multimedia Association) were e.g. that 67% of Finnish gamers play online and 31% of parents play with their children. Even though that is quite low number I was actually surprised how high it is. According to Figma figures 36% of 16-29 year olds play digital games. When we (research group) conducted a survey through Taloustutkimus (market research web panel) in 2006 (N was almost 1500) 20% of girls and ~70% of boys in the age group of 13-18 year olds, played games daily or almost daily. Naturally when the age is closer to 30 children, work, hobbies and other activities consume bigger and bigger part of the spare time. What I found interesting is that still people highlight how the average player in Finland is 37-or-so years old male but when looking at gaming from hobby perspective the youngsters rule. Who cares about Minesweeper or Solitaire! Lately educators have gotten interested in games or game-like solutions in education. When there is interest there most likely will (soon) be solutions. That is super! It will be interesting to see how different schools start to utilize games or game-like processes in learning. Ludocraft from Oulu has been developing Novicraft solution. Naturally the other way to go is to utilize existing leisure games or other playful and easy to use online tools.