The 5 Phrases You Should Never Use

When I worked for a small game company reviewing game submissions, invariably one of these following 5 phrases would come up and I knew I was talking with someone with no experience.   Simply by speaking like you know something about the game industry - or at least not saying something that proves you don't - you will increase your chances of getting your invention more seriously considered.   So if you are drafting an introductory email, sending a cover letter, or looking to make phone contact, please, Please, PLEASE, avoid using these 5 phrases.

5. "This game will be the next Monopoly."

This proves that you really have no idea how big a success Monopoly is.   Monopoly has transcended being simply a very successful game; it has achieved the status of phenomenom.   You probably know you can buy a Monopoly game based on your favorite city or football team but did you know you can also get Monopoly themed with Harley Davidson's, US National Parks, Bass Fishing, and Elvis?   It is truly amazing, and no game will ever duplicate the success of Monopoly, much less surpass it.

And while you are at it, avoid comparisons to other mega hits such as Trivial Pursuit, Clue, Battleship, etc, etc.

Click here to see Phrase #4





















4. "This game will sell (or make us) millions."

Again, this proves you do not know the scope of this industry and you have unrealistically high expectations for your game.   There are way too many elements that have to be in alignment for a game to achieve selling a million copies or making a million dollars; the public has to be ready for it, packaging has to be just right, pricing has to fit with the current economy, the name and tag line have to strike a chord with buyers, etc, etc.  

Most medium and small game companies consider it a success to have a game that can sell 20,000 to 30,000 copies a year, for several years.   Even seasoned industry pros cannot accurately predict a mega-hit, although each year they try.   So how can you - someone outside the industry - have such great insight?   It is a ludicrous though and only serves to make you sound foolish.

Click here to see Phrase #3




















3. "How can I be sure you won't steal my idea?"

I have seen this phrased any number of ways but at its core it still means one thing, "If I show you my idea, I will have to kill you."   The red flags this sends to game companies are that 1) You will need to be educated about how the industry operates and 2) You will likely be a problem to deal with [and so it will be easier to avoid dealing with you altogether].

There are several truths about this industry that you should be aware of:

•  There will be very few companies that you will find willing to sign your NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) and, in fact, you may often have to sign their NDA that indemnifies them against you and looking at your game idea.

•  Smaller game companies review 300+ games each year and the largest companies often look at 1500+ games each year.   So over the life of that company, they will review thousands and thousands of games.   The chances are that they are or have been looking at a game(s) that has similarities to yours.   There is very little under the sun that has not been thought up in some form or another.   You are hoping that you are bringing some new tweak, twist, combination or viewpoint that makes your idea sell-able.

•  I do not have an accurate percentage, but it seems that at least 75% of the games that get released each year are from outside inventors such as yourself.   So game publishers rely on your ideas to keep their company afloat.   If you have a good idea, it is simply not in their best interest to irritate you in any way.   It serves them better to treat you well, so you continue to bring your good ideas to them.   And no game idea is an 'obvious' success.   As discussed in Phrase #2 above, even seasoned veterans still have to make their best guess, so why steal your idea, which is unproven, and then invest serious money in its development and release only to hope that the game will be a success?

Click here to see Phrase #2





















2. "My game is highly educational."

This is not really a bad phrase to use, on the contrary, this is quite a good phrase.   However, way too often newbies, looking to describe their game in the best possible light, will use this phrase even when their game has very little educational value. If you are going to use this phrase, you have to really mean it!

I have seen the word used for games whose educational value was solely that you rolled the die and then 'counted' that many spaces to move your pawn.   I have also seen it used for 'color-matching' where you put your pawn on the start space that matches your color pawn; for 'problem-solving' where you had to choose to take the route to the right or left; and for "addition" where you were simply adding your two dice rolls together.   That DOES NOT even remotely put your game in the realm of educational games.

Educational Value is very important.   So, if your game works with current curricular course plans, then by all means note that your game is 'educational'.   But if it does not, avoid going down that road!

Click here to see the #1 Phrase you should not use!

















1. "I've played it with all my friends and family and they love it."

Although seemingly harmless enough, this phrase has 3 distinct problems with it.

•  It has been and will be used by all beginning inventors (at least 98% of them).   This alone dilutes the phrase to being almost meaningless.

•  Of course your friends and family love it... that is why they are your friends and family.   They love you and all you do, so why wouldn't they love your game? What a game company really wants to know is how it was received by nonpartisan play test groups.

•  The fact that you mention testing it with friends and family by default means you have not tested it with anyone else: a serious flaw in designing a game.   The more play testing you do with different groups, the better feedback you get and the more potential design errors you will avoid.

So don't use this phrase.   It is obvious, it is pointless and it is a sure sign that you are green when it comes to creating games!



This is just one helpful tidbit from the upcoming book
"Getting Paid to Play: The Business of Game Design"

to find out more about the book, click here.


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