Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Branding is becoming very important in the world (or at least, the US). There's the classic experiment where young kids were given two sets of fast food to evaluate. One was marked McDonalds, the other not. The food was identical, but the kids significantly favored the branded food. And a famous pinball machine designer said that you just couldn't succeed without a tie-in to some IP or other... We see many, many sequels in the video game world, but that is partly because sequels have ready-made brands.

Even in playtesting, I'm finding that it's become harder to persuade people to play a game they've never heard of or seen, even when I've taken the time to make the prototype fairly attractive. This is at a monthly meeting that I've attended, off-and-on, for many years; but the people keep changing over time, with the trend away from old-time strategy gamers and toward Euro types.

The exception is where I'm a well-known quantity, as at NC State, where the people have played many of my games and know they're worthwhile. Someone said "you're the brand" when I mentioned this, and I suppose that's true. Perhaps, in the first case, if I sat with a couple of my published games beside me that would help. Then again, I'm just not an arm-twister.

Another difference between the two is that at NC State there are few new games coming into the club and not a great number of old ones, whereas at the monthly meeting people bring lots of games, including lots of new ones, and there's a big games library as well. (There's also a big age difference; the average age at the monthly meeting is around 40, at NC State around 20.)

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