Can’t I just send my game design document directly to a developer/publisher? It’s so cool, they’ll want to make my game and pay me lots of money!
There’s just one problem — Nobody will read it.
Legally, they can’t. Professional publishing companies will just send it back, or send it to their attorneys.
NOBODY will read it!
Heck, even if they COULD read it, they won’t read it because they’re probably far too busy making their own games! You need to realize that they generally get hundreds of design documents that pour in from all over the world. Your slick new idea will be just another one on the pile.
You can see where this is going, so don’t waste your time.
“OK, so how do I MAKE them read it?” I hear you ask.
There are two ways to attack this problem.
- Get a job with a developer/publisher. ANY job will do (yes, even receptionist or assistant to the assistant producer). Next, make friends with the Executive Producer (or similar executive) and pitch him personally. Companies relax a lot when they know they own what you are working on, and staff are free to discuss things. If you designed something GOOD before joining, make sure you mention it on the non-disclosure-agreement when you join the company — just attach a copy so they know it existed BEFORE you joined.
It does not matter WHAT job you take to get into position to make this pitch. The people that can make it happen are executive producers, vice-presidents, lead designers, team leaders , game directors and lead programmers. If they get behind your idea, it will get some attention. Just make sure it’s a GREAT idea before you start this whole process!
- Assuming you don’t have a job at a game company, hook up with some artists, programmers, etc, online (or at local colleges) and create mock visuals of your game as it would be running. Use whatever tools you have available and make your mock-up appear as close as possible to the actual, running game in its final state. Consider music and voice-over (a cool voice explaining things) for a demo video, if your budget (and time) can stretch that far.
Make a tape of the video and mail it to the Executive Producer at the company of your choice. Don’t label it for what it is — let the tape do the talking, not the box.
So, for your game “SLAYER,” Just write “SLAYER” on the label. Then, at the start of the video, have it say something like, “Slayer, Game Development Progress. Awaiting publisher representation.”
The key here is, don’t pitch your design idea as JUST a design idea. Pitch it as a project that has ALREADY STARTED. Pitch it as a project that’s just looking for a publisher.
If the publisher likes it, you’ll get a call. Then you explain that the design documents are done, the mock artwork is done, the storyboards are done, the characters designed, etc. All you need now is a development team assigned to execute the final work (even suggest a list of developers you like that do freelance work – Eurocom is a good example.)
The most important point here is DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME UNLESS YOU HAVE A GREAT IDEA.
AND DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME SENDING A VIDEO THAT IS NOT REALLY IMPRESSIVE.
I have had the video trick done to me, and it did get me to watch it. I was interested. Mission accomplished.
But then the video itself was terrible and I threw it away. Don’t let that happen to you.
This information is very true. Back up your video trailer with hard development assets (when asked). Make sure you have proof of your design talent, and can follow through with the development process.
Make sure you have a talented team that can actually complete, or has completed a project, no matter how small.
Be social, polite and friendly (genuinely) at the industry job you get, no matter if it’s the mailroom (strategically good), QA, or even if it’s a production/development intern position.
What an excellent article! Thank you for these insights on what should be titled: “How To Get Into The Game”.