Dirk Johnson
Dirk Johnson
March 5th, 2018
Making an Elevator Pitch
For the upcoming
Protospiel San Jose
, designers will have the opportunity to not only play-test their games, but, thanks to
Gaming with Edo
, create a video "elevator pitch" for their games. I have been working on the dialog for my elevator pitch and I wanted to mention how valuable the exercise has been.
At the
Dundracon
protospiel last month, I was made aware, painfully so, of how important it is to have a practiced way of succinctly presenting the rules of one's games. After that experience, I was determined to be better prepared for my next protospiel.
The definition of an "elevator pitch" is a brief sales pitch short enough to deliver in a ride in the elevator. In general, I've looked at the requirement to be brief as a limitation rather than an advantage. However, during my exercise to write my elevator pitch for
More or Less
, when I was done looking at my elevator
haiku
, I realized I had just written the dialog for explaining the rules to my play-testers. Sure, there were some rules missing from the pitch that I would have included had my goal been to write a succinct dialog for explaining the game, but I realized after reading the sales pitch, that the missing rules could be explained during play rather than up front.
Learning any game with more than a few rules can overload the synapses and test the short term memory of any player. I am now of a mind that it is better to explain a prototype game only with enough rules to provide the goal of the game, get the game started, and detail the victory conditions, rather than laying out all rules up front. Once a play-tester starts playing, they develop a context for the game, then, as the rest of the rules are rolled out during play, these new rules are learned in a much more concrete context.
I recognize learning certain rules "late" in a game can affect strategy and therefore affect the outcome of the game. However, the purpose of a play-test is not to actually win but to test the rules, so perhaps making the game easier to start and take in is probably better than maximizing a play-tester's chance at victory.
Of course, determining which rules to provide up front and which rules to unfold later in play is probably more of an art than a science, but it is a great question to ask when working on your dialog for explaining the game.
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