An Advergaming Company

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Matt Barton
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Hi, all. I'm wondering if there is anyone here who'd be interested in discussing a professional "advergaming" or persuasive games company. I've been brainstorming with a friend on this (and having read Persuasive Games by Ian Bogost), there seems to be amazing potential here. We both know games and social networking. The only missing piece is how to actually bring those concepts to reality. We lack the programming knowledge to make it happen. We're willing to learn, but not really sure how to start--I'm guessing Flash?

I'm thinking that we could start small, trying to pitch some very basic ideas to local businesses. Thinking here of Space Invaders rip-offs branded for a company or business. Once we start to accumulate some capital and experience, we could up the ante, thinking long-term about a full-on Farmville type experience with data mining, coupons, network marketing, the works.

If anyone (particularly coders, artists, and people with a head for business) are interested, let me know.

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Bill Loguidice
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We actually casually know

We actually casually know Steve: http://armchairarcade.com/neo/node/1270

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Greg Johnson
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Hi Matt.

You may want to check with Jeff and Steve Fulton over at www.8bitrocket.com - They do a lot of Flash and retrogaming. They even have a consulting service: www.8bitrocket.com/consulting/

I have no affiliation and have never used them for any project, so I don't have a clue on their cost, but they look like they'd be worth checking out when you get a solid game idea.

Bill Loguidice
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Right, programmers, artists

Right, programmers, artists and audio engineers are the hardest part. There are more designs in this world than people to implement them. I'm not even sure what the cost would be to get a game onto Facebook either. Do you know what those costs are, if any? I know on mobile it's minimal.

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Matt Barton
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I agree about Facebook.

I agree about Facebook. Obviously the way to go here is a "game" or "app" that leverages your social network. The idea could be to help you save money by recruiting more people into your clan a la Farmville. It could tap into that huge coupon culture among middle-aged women (which I keep hearing is the biggest growing gaming demographic anyway). It wouldn't even have to be a traditional game at all, but merely an entertaining way to do the coupon thing. Maybe the things you buy at the grocery store (assuming it's for a grocery store) could also help you buy virtual items in it.

Imagine this thing done for charity work. Most grocery stores around here have a donations box for food, and they also sell sealed bags of food that you buy (and then give to them to re-distribute to the poor). A game could easily be made out of this concept. It could be about setting up the most efficient food distribution system, and your credits or rank in the game could depend on your own purchases or donations, but you could also recruit friends (or fellow shoppers) into your "soup kitchen." So you're working at a virtual soup kitchen, and X number of hungry children and families visit it once a day (or however long depending on your donations). You could also work on improving the look and design of your soup kitchen, adding nicer tables, chairs, greater variety, perhaps eventually expanding into a free clinic, etc.

I could plan all this out very effectively on paper, but let's face it--I'm no programmer. This is all just pissing in the sky without the technical skills to make it happen.

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Bill Loguidice
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Advergaming
Matt Barton wrote:

Sure, it's probably hopeless, but geez. A guy has got to try to do something.

I'm just saying I think that perhaps the idea of advergaming via a Web browser has probably passed, and certainly with Flash, especially with Apple thumbing their noses at it. I think companies get excited by the next big thing, which continues to be mobile apps. I think they'd much rather see say an iOS/Android/Windows 7 advergame than a browser-based game. Of course the x-factor in that is Facebook. I bet the advergaming concept would work well as a Facebook game, but I bet the barrier to entry would be much higher these days. Just a thought...

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Matt Barton
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Sure, it's probably hopeless,

Sure, it's probably hopeless, but geez. A guy has got to try to do something.

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Bill Loguidice
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Not sure such an idea is even

Not sure such an idea is even timely anymore. Even the Skyworks guys - Crane and et al. - sold their interests in the company and they were tops at it. I almost wonder if the money isn't in apps these days.

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Matt Barton
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Thanks, Mark. Bogost seems to

Thanks, Mark. Bogost seems to think that an advergame that tries to be manipulative can easily backfire, making the player stop and think more about the manipulation. It'd be like a TV commercial that was a bit too obvious. But, yeah, I'm sure there are plenty of people who would play the game uncritically, accepting everything as Gospel and rushing out to spend their money.

Like I said, I want to start off very small and doable. Maybe talk to some local businesses--perhaps a grocery store, and make a simple game for them that they could tie into their ad campaigns. Say if it's Christmas season (too late now, of course), make a Space Invaders game where you're playing a Santa's sleigh and shooting down presents instead of aliens. Of course, some of the presents would be items being sold by the store, and the little saucer that passes overhead could have a banner advertising the sales.

Just some cheesy ideas, but seems doable and something that I imagine you could sell pretty easily.

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Mark Vergeer
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You need psychology and knowledge about human behavior

You need to know things about decision making and behavior for it to work. How to dangle a juicy carrot in front of people's faces and how to make them go after it. Shame that it is quite a predatory way to get people's money though as the gameplay often stinks and the 'social interaction' often is limited to passing each other virtual goods that you need to acquire by grinding endlessly but you end up paying money for in order to get anywhere.

In my opinion these persuasive / shovelware games may hollow out the games industry even more. So better make sure the games are actually interactive and rich in content - like World of Warcraft can be which in a way basically is just as big a gamer-milking-cow thing as persuasive games are... but at least it's fun whereas a lot of these persuasive games are not.

Good luck with this venture though as luck is something one needs in that industry. I think persuasive gaming actually could be the 'new internet bubble' in a lot of ways. It may cave in on itself. Still there may be regions where it can remain more successful than others.

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