Sometimes it’s just as important to know who’s NOT going to buy your product than who IS.
Spellirium is a story-based game with a word puzzle mechanic. Many people have asked me “Who’s the target audience? Kids?”, or have cocked a skeptical eye, implying that it will never succeed in the mainstream marketplace … but maybe i should try selling the game to schools?
Breaking from Untold Entertainment’s core competency, we’re not developing Spellirium for kids. It’s a game for grown-ups. That’s because, simply put, kids hate word games.
Back when i was working at YTV, i developed a series of games called The Sitekick Saga. It had an episodic release schedule, and each chapter contained a game. To progress through the story, you had to finish the game sandwiched inside.
The second chapter’s game was called Four Letter Words, because i’m subversive like that. It had four slots at the bottom of the screen. Letters would cascade down from the top. You guided them into the slots to form four-letter words. You needed to meet a quota of words before time ran out to proceed.
It was an extremely easy game. The clear strategy was to line up “ALL” at one end, and then plunk down letters to form “BALL”, “MALL”, “CALL”, “FALL”, “TALL”, etc. You could do the same thing with “OTE”, “ELL”, “ATE” or any other common letter formation. i figured any kid who’s read a Dr. Seuss book knows this. Or maybe i paid just a little too much attention to Sesame Street when i was younger, while other kids were busy imagining what’s up Prairie Dawn’s skirt?
Hey, baby … do those legs go ALL the way up?
At any rate, i overestimated the ability of nine and ten year olds to spell simple words. i received more hate mail about that game than anything i’ve ever done. The vitriol poured in over the message boards:
YTV how daer you made a game that maks us spel words?? what is this shool, if i wantd to learn i nad go sit in Miss jenkins class
While that’s not an actual quote from the site’s boards, please understand, dear reader, that in no way am i exaggerating the grammatical prowess here.
For the Love of the Queen’s English
So i don’t have plans to foist Spellirium on the school system. It’s a game for people who enjoy spelling words – who do it for fun rather than out of obligation. My players will be people who hold Scrabble matches, who adore Words with Friends, who hunch over newspaper crossword puzzles, and who cruise around WordGameWorld.com on their lunch break – during their adult job for adults.
Er … that’s not quite what i meant.
It’s important, then, to know who your audience isn’t, so that you don’t waste marketing time and effort talking about your game to people who couldn’t care less. Beyond that, if you’ve really done the legwork to identify your target audience, don’t let folks who haven’t done the research convince you that you should be selling to someone else.