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New submission process: Video presentation

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coco
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Hi all.

Let me share this with you:

Educational Insights is changing its submission process. Instead of inventors sending prototypes, samples, and spec documents for them to evaluate, they would like first round submissions to be in the form of a video presentation: CD, VHS, mpeg, etc. The inventor can either send a CD, VHS, or flash drive in for them to evaluate, or he can upload a short video presentation to their website. The movie can be no longer than 5 minutes in length. If they are interested in a product or idea that is present and want to see a physical product, they will ask the inventor to send it to them by mail.

(Before this, Educational Insights asks you to agree to the conditions in they Disclosure Agreement.)

I think this is a good idea, and probably other publishers would like it.

NĂ©stor.

InvisibleJon
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I disagree for several reasons...

Interesting news... I sincerely hope that other companies do not adopt this policy. Here's why:

* A spec sheet (or a copy of the rules) succinctly conveys the creator's ability to write clearly and concisely. These are useful predictors of game quality.

* Oh, look. Yet another skill set (writing, editing, mechanics, layout, graphic design) we have to master.

* Not everyone has a good video camera. Trying to film a game demo with my MacBook's built-in webcam would not look good or go well.

* Video demos are vulnerable to observer bias. It's been clinically proven that people react better to attractive people. The same is true for grading papers (with identical content) that are typewritten vs. handwritten. I believe it's a lot easier for most of us to make a good-looking physical prototype than a good-looking movie demo. What about really good designers who aren't attractive, or have issues with presenting? A video demo introduces a lot of conflating extraneous factors.

* Asking for a video seems lazy. I guarantee that it'll take you fewer than five minutes to read any one of my one-sheet game descriptions.

* Videos are a non-portable media. You can't pull one out while you're walking to a meting and read it over. You can't pass it to another person with your comments written in the margin.

I could go on and on. I do believe that if you are capable of making a video, then including a short video demo of your game with a submission would be very clever. I think that real snippets of video from a good play test session would be especially helpful. Even though I oppose the idea pretty vehemently, I'm still considering if I can incorporate it into my proposals.

Thanks for the heads-up,

Jonathan

mikedrys
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Both good and bad

I don't have a whole lot of experience submitting games (I've done so twice), but I do think this could be good in some instances. Both times that I have submitted (via email with a short attached pdf of the rules, etc.) they have asked to actually "see" the mock up/prototype. And both times, I'm sure that having a video presentation of 5 minutes or less would have satisfied their need to "see."

I do agree with Jonathan in that videos do introduce the potential of observer bias. And let me apologize beforehand, I'm a grad student working in Psychology (specifically research, not counseling/therapy), so I have a bit of experience with research and whatnot. But findings from research never "prove" anything, they only support hypotheses and ideas. There is a lot of evidence and support for what Jonathan says about attractive people. And I guess I would just like to add that if the video presentation were just one of the pieces that was used in the review process of games it would be a better option than just having it be the beginning of the decision making process. The other thing I've found from research is that having multiple sources of data just helps us make better, more informed decisions. Therefore, being able to submit a video along with a 1 page description of the game would probably aid in the review process, giving the company the opportunity to make a more informed decision.

That's my 2 cents.
Mike
mormongamedesign.blogspot.com

clearclaw
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Irrelevant medium

More annoying is the irrelevancy of the video medium. These are table-top games played with bits on a table, not computers or video/DVD players.

s2alexan
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This is a good thing...

I think this is a great idea. It's really hard to get an idea of what a game is about based on the rules, or a short description. It takes a long time to wrap your mind around it. I'll be honest and say that I never read rules online before I buy a game - I just don't "get" the rules without the actual components in front of me.

But a live demo of a game is great - in just a couple of minutes, you can understand a huge amount about the game. Even if I don't get the chance to play a game, just seeing someone give me a short demo (or watching them play for 2 minutes) is a huge help. And a video of a live demo is almost as good.

Sure, it's a pain for those doing the submitting, but think about it this way: Many companies have stopped accepting outside submissions in the last few years. If you want to show something to Rio Grande, you have to go see Jay at a convention.

It's not a matter of "do we want to send in rules and a short description... OR make a video". That's an easy one - I'd rather send in the rules and a description, it's much easier for me.

The question is more "do you want submissions closed, or live demos only.... OR would you rather make a video". I know I'd rather make a video than have to travel to a convention, or not even have the chance because the publisher is too busy. Anything that makes it easier and faster for my idea to make it in front of a publisher is good for me, even if it means more work and different skills.

This gets me thinking... maybe I should make up a quick video of some of my games, before I send them to a publisher. It would just be me explaining it and giving a quick demo - maybe 2 minutes long. When I send them an email to see if they're interested, I can include a link to the video. If they don't want to check it out, fine, but if they do, it might help them visualize the game better, and get them interested quickly.

MatthewF
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clearclaw wrote:More annoying

clearclaw wrote:
More annoying is the irrelevancy of the video medium. These are table-top games played with bits on a table, not computers or video/DVD players.

That makes no sense at all. Cooking, fly fishing, fixing your plumbing, none of these have any connection to "the video medium," but video presentations of them can be highly informative. The table-top nature of the games has no bearing whatsoever on whether or not video is appropriate for presentation.

clearclaw
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Wood for the trees

The problem isn't the media being informative but that the media itself is irrelevant and the information density of the media compared to the actual data volume being communicated is extreme. The result is that the actual data content, the game rules, form a miniscule fraction of the communicated data set. That's a big problem.

With the exception of dexterity and party games (and often even then), game definitions are a function of language. They are defined, more or less formally, as language constructs. They are not visual performance media and presenting them as such loses sight of, drowns, the actual thing being presented: a logical/mathematical problem statement. Being informative isn't the problem and should never be the problem. Ensuring that the desired data forms the overwhelming brunt of the presentation with as little noise as possible is the problem and use of video as a medium loses sight of that.

s2alexan
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clearclaw wrote:The problem

clearclaw wrote:
The problem isn't the media being informative but that the media itself is irrelevant and the information density of the media compared to the actual data volume being communicated is extreme. The result is that the actual data content, the game rules, form a miniscule fraction of the communicated data set. That's a big problem.

With the exception of dexterity and party games (and often even then), game definitions are a function of language. They are defined, more or less formally, as language constructs. They are not visual performance media and presenting them as such loses sight of, drowns, the actual thing being presented: a logical/mathematical problem statement. Being informative isn't the problem and should never be the problem. Ensuring that the desired data forms the overwhelming brunt of the presentation with as little noise as possible is the problem and use of video as a medium loses sight of that.

As you said, it depends on what kind of information you're trying to get across.

I always assumed that in the "initial evaluation", when a publisher is trying to decide whether they want to take your prototype (and play it out), they don't really care about all the rules. Sure, if that's all there is, they could probably figure out how the game works - and what the cool bits are, how novel or marketable it is, etc. But it's like translating - they have to read the rules, and construct those ideas in their head. I don't think the full rules are the most efficient way to get the information they want about the game.

When I read a review of a board game, I don't need to hear all the rules (and I hate reviews that are too rules-heavy). I want to know - is the game fun? Is it deep, or light? What kind of groups, or people, would it play best with? Are there any major problems? You can't get those by reading the rules (unless you're really really smart) :)
I think publishers need slightly different information than a game review, but the point is the same - they need certain info, and the rules, or even a 1-page description, don't quite get it across as well as a video of me doing a demo.

So when I'm pitching to a publisher, I'm not going to present a logical/mathematical problem statement. I see myself as more presenting the "cool parts" of the game, and how it works in general, and why it's fun. A video is definitely the best way for that. If I can get their interest, then they can get the whole "information dump" when I sent them the prototype, and sort through it.

Just my opinion of what I think they want, but I don't have any published games to back up my theory, so that's all it is right now.

clearclaw
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Just the rules

My assumption is that any and all cool bits, themes or whatever are at the whim of the publisher, not the designer. They'll (re-)theme and adjust the bits of the game to suit their market. All I'm providing as the designer is the rule-set -- and even that is negotiable.

Katherine
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Joined: 07/24/2008
I agree with clearclaw on

I agree with clearclaw on this one.

I think the video submission is a ploy to reduce or eliminate the submission process altogeather without offending designers, Think about it ...

cannot make a video - submit elswhere.
cannot portray your game in five minutes - submit elswhere
game is dependent on "hands on" to be enjoyed - submit elswhere.

Imagine trying to make a five minute video for a game of chess!

Cranky? maybe, but I for one will never submit a video to educational insights because my game fits all three of the above.

I thnk those turning to self publishing could help newbies by setting up a (sort of) reciprocal product program - listing each others games in a side menue on their home page, in much the same way as artists list their collegues. This increases both publishers exposure on the web because the search tearms are automatically increased.

benshelmars
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Both views have merit

Remember the days of "You sunk my Battleship!" Yes the rules were simple, but they were not explained in the video "commercial". A video is simply a form of communicating, key word is "communicating". It is not the only method of communicating just one of many forms.
One of the greatest things about being a game designer is being able to think outside of the box. This forum is a great example. Both views have merit because both are different ways of looking at something, which is how we design games, by looking at something differently or from another perspective. Our own diversity is our greatest strength.

MatthewF
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clearclaw wrote:My assumption

clearclaw wrote:
My assumption is that any and all cool bits, themes or whatever are at the whim of the publisher, not the designer. They'll (re-)theme and adjust the bits of the game to suit their market. All I'm providing as the designer is the rule-set -- and even that is negotiable.

Have you seen Educational Insights' games? I think you're thinking about a different kind of game than the ones they publish.

The games they publish can be demonstrated very effectively in a 5-minute video.

bluepantherllc
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Videos

If your game design is good, if your rules are clear and understandable, if the rules are short and the board and bits give all sorts of visual clues about gameplay, then you don't need a video.

As a game publisher I see a fair number of submissions, not enough to be jaded (I hope), but enough to make pretty quick judgements on whether I would like to play a game. I have not seen a game submission with a video, but I have seen where five minute YouTube videos explaining how the game is played got me interested in something I may have missed (look at what New World Games is doing, for example). The same is true of computer versions of a game, if applicable.

People have different learning styles, and gamers are no exception. Some will read the rules ten times, others will read the rules aloud and play a sample turn, others will say "I saw this being played, so let's give it a try". Some rulebooks only get opened once or twice. I've never met a rule that couldn't be broken, says one of my playtesters. So if the people reviewing game design submissions want a video, maybe it's because they learn by watching rather than reading rules. It's their company, their money and their time that's going to be lavished on a game design they want to publish, so they can set the rules.

One other thing about a video being made of a game. It takes some effort to make a video - it means you have to have made a workable prototype, got some people together to play it, etc. In other words, you believe enough in the idea to put some effort into it. So, it works as a sorting mechanism. If you don't want to do a video, company A manages to cut off a whole bunch of half-baked ideas with no effort on their part. They may also miss a few gems this way, but from where I am sitting, there are alot more game designers than game publishers.

As a game designer, trying to make a video actually helped me write better rules, too. What we, as game designers, need more of perhaps, is videos being made of people who open our games and try to figure them out without us (or anyone who's played the game) there to explain the rules to them. I did this once with a group of playtesters, and after viewing the video, I picked up the pieces of my shattered ego from the floor, then tried write a better rulebook.

benshelmars
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Bravo

Well said.

toberoo
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video/holograms hell yeah

i plan to use video presentations as an introduction to meetings with potential investors/retail buyers etc. 5 mins is far longer than i need (its a full blow board game) as i plan to use it as a sweetner introducing the objectives and showing clips of actual gameplay.
like most people i have no background in filming/editing/DVD authouring. for me personally i feel its well worth the effort to learn/practice and master.
"make it look as good as it plays"

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