Chapter 7

Self Promotion

Fame -- makes a man take things over
Lets him loose and hard to swallow
Puts you there, where things are hollow
Fame, fame, fame, fame...
David Bowie / John Lennon (1975)

Humility is not a prerequisite for success in the game development industry. In fact, while being humble may endear you to family members, it will do very little to further your career. In this industry, the illusion of greatness is nearly as important as true greatness.

Have you ever heard of a guy by the name of Michael Abrash? Have you ever stopped to wonder why you have heard of Michael Abrash? Is it because there are no other programmers in the world of Michael's caliber? Or is it because Michael is a master of self-promotion?

Think about it. Maybe Michael has something more to teach us than just how to be a great programmer. Maybe by observing Michael, we can pick up a few tips on becoming famous as well.

Increasing Your Name Recognition

Put Your Name On It Put your name on everything! Use big letters. Use bright colors. Carry it to extremes. Make your name the first thing people see.

If listing yourself as the author of a game isn't satisfying enough for you, you can also incorporate your name as part of the title. My casino game is not called 3D Casino Las Vegas , it is called Diana Gruber's 3D Casino Las Vegas. Similarly, experts may advise against naming your company after yourself, but Ted and I have never regretted calling our company Ted Gruber Software, Inc. I don't suppose Peter Norton regrets founding Peter Norton Computing, either.

Put Your Picture On It People respond to human faces. If they see your picture in a magazine, on a box, or on a web page, they will pause a moment longer than they might have otherwise. They may even stop long enough to see what you have to say. They will have an urge to get to know the person associated with the face.

You can carry this to extremes as well. Once I wrote an article for Visual Developer magazine. The article was about color reduction. I color-reduced my own face. The result was 7 pictures of Diana in one magazine. Not bad.

Another thing I did was trade web banners with the Link Exchange. I put my picture on the banner. Then I bought 120,000 more banners. Just think, 120,000 people will see my name and my face on the Internet. Even if they don't buy my software, they will remember me. If they see one of my games in the future, they will assume because they have heard of me before, my software must be good.

Get Publicity This means, get reviews. Submit your game, along with press releases, to everybody and everything you can think of. The web is a fabulous resource for this. Poke around on the web, and find anybody who who appears to be the least bit interested, and tell them about your game. If it looks like they can help you, send them a review copy.

Don't neglect traditional media either. Send press releases and disks to magazine editors.

Awards Awards are an excellent source of publicity. Nominate your software for as many awards as possible. Some suggestions: The Ziff Davis Shareware Awards, Computer Gaming World's Game of the Year Awards, The shareware industry's SAIC awards, and awards presented at CGDC and E3.

Be a Writer If you can't get people to write about you, then you can always write something yourself. There must be some area of expertise where you have some information you can share. Pitch your ideas to your favorite editor. If you don't get a nibble, write for newsletters. Even writing web page reviews helps. Whatever you write, be sure your name is on it. Try to get paid for it, too.

Public Speaking Personally, I hate this. I find standing before an audience terribly intimidating. But I do it, occasionally. I know it is good for me.

To speak at a convention or trade show, you need to submit a proposal to the proper committee at the proper time. Don't wait for an invitation. Seek out opportunities, and promote yourself.

Be sure you have something interesting to say. Be well prepared. Try not to be nervous. Good luck.

Make Web Pages See this? This is a web page. Notice my name at the bottom of the page. Do you think this web site is going to help me in my quest for increased name recognition? Well, it isn't going to hurt me much, that's for sure.

The trick to making web pages is to come up with something people are actually interested in. Another collection of links isn't going to impress very many people. But the web is hungry for original content. If you have something to say, then by all means create a web page to say it.

And don't forget, every game you write needs a web page. Make it a good web page, with colors and graphics and screen shots. Put a little pizzazz into your web page. And be sure to put your name on it.

Get Involved If you are having trouble getting to know people in the game development community, then try joining one of the several organizations that have been formed. My personal favorite is IGDN, but there are others that may suit you. Don't be afraid to do more than just join. Volunteer to help. Work on committees. Propose ideas. Write for the newsletter. Run for office.

Keep your goals in mind There are two kinds of name recognition which will benefit you, name recognition within the industry, and name recognition among the general public. Your goal is to achieve both. You want your customers to recognize your name and buy your games. You want publishers, producers, and peers to recognize your name and offer you opportunities. Plan your self-promotion campaign with both audiences in mind.

Be Creative Opportunities present themselves to game developers constantly. Look for opportunities to further your career, and also increase your name recognition. Don't be shy about taking advantage of opportunities that are presented to you. If anybody accuses you of being a glory hog, tell them Diana made you do it.


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