east coast gaming conference

Marketing Your Game in 2018 and Beyond

Posted on Updated on

At 10:00am on 4/18/2018, I attended the presentation “Marketing Your Game in 2018 and Beyond”, Presented by Logan Williams Founder of Indie Wolverine, at the 2018 East Coast Gaming Conference in At the Raleigh Convention Center in Raleigh, NC.

Marketing Your Game in 2018 and Beyond

Logan Williams of Indie Wolverine is a marketing & PR specialist in the video game industry. Logan has supported over 12 games in the span of 2 and a half years and has helped his clients earn coverage from the largest gaming publications around the world. Notable games Logan has supported are GRAV, Cosmic Trip VR, Heart Forth Alicia, Polygod, Reflex Arena and more.

 

More games are being released at a higher volume than ever before on the largest PC game digital distribution platform (Steam). With the mobile market and now PC games market becoming overcrowded and overly competitive, it’s feast or famine. Marketing isn’t an option and influencer marketing is no longer low-hanging fruit.

In this talk, we broke down marketing & PR in the video game industry to simple terms and begin to expand on more creative ways we can communicate the values of our games to our target market. This included ways to utilize guerilla marketing tactics and how to get the most out of our launch (Early Acess release, full release, major update etc..).

I hope to leave this talk with a new understanding of marketing and PR in the video game industry and the added creative knowledge of how to make the most of existing communication strategies.

This talk was aimed at industry newbies to professionals.

PRESENTATION

Catch the whole slide presentation at: https://www.slideshare.net/LoganWilliams2/ecgc-2018-marketing-your-game-in-2018-and-beyond

Indie Wolverine operates by default using guerilla marketing. Most customers have a few weeks until launch to gain coverage when they walk into the office.

FAILURE IS A LEARNING OPPORTUNITY

Last year, their business had a large-ish failure. They worked with a VR team with Steam Early access title, and they handled the process from early release, and they were picked up by tons of attention-getting youtubers. The attention converted into sales. Sales were great and the alunch with early access went well. rather than small updates, the teams focused on 2-3month update cycles.

Due to the large success in the past, expectations were high. Kotaku noted his game was the favorite VR game to date. They felt they could reach out to positive reviewers. A 3-week pre-release note went out with reviewers and new press. The first round went out with virtually no response. The 2nd-week pre-release note got little or no responses. People were opening the email, but there was no response. The development team was stoked, but red flags were flying all over the place. As this was a first in-studio experience he could see the excitement. On launch, only niche clients responded, and sales did not meet expectations.

On the flight home, he was disgusted, felt sick to his stomach. Mitigating the risk and stress became his mission moving forward. We’ll talk about PR but its really about mitigating stress on launch.

Steam mechanics here show that in 2017, 7,700 games were released- roughly by the numbers that’s 20 new games every single day. As noted repeatedly in podcasts by the Jimquisition, having so many products available there is no way to get your product noted and its very easy to find your materials reshuffled out of sight.

COMMUNITY BUILDING

This is something which is important and will always be important. These are your embassadors. They are ready and available on day 1. So have an incentive- give them a reason to buy your game. Engage that community- let them know and listen as they are an extension of your studio. Leverage that community- build the community and use that to make a following that uses the products, informs developers and community, and entices others to take part.

An incentive might be exclusive access to an exclusive build. Getting them in the door isn’t the last step, but rather the first step to building that community. Have team members amke contests, make them feel safe and valued and engaged. Leverage that community to validate the material you’re producing. Use the community to leverage merchandizing, partnerships, etc.

It can get worse. Self-published book authors might face 100,000 fiction books each year and they’re marketing on amazon. Building the community is the answer. How? Through mailing lists, connections, etc. The connected community are your footsoliders. They aren’t being paid, they’re paying you!

He used discord to build a dream community for our game descenders. WIth numerous options, they built a discord server with an exclusive release. They gave competition through team, protected channels, built community, and used the data to buildi nthe features which were used most by the community. You cannot depend on the game or mechanics. Community you can control

 

From the beginning of game build, you’ll have newsworthy beats for the media. Be organized. Have the ammunition and planned communication. Writers are trying to delight the reader. Give them good amunition. Be clear. Always have a clear call to action. Be clear to the media on what is new, what you’re doing, what they’ll like, where they should go, how you’d like it covered, how to contact you. This is for any communications. Have goals. What is the end goal? Organize your news feeds with a goal in mind. If the announcement gets on IGN, and you didn’t provide next steps for the readers, and the product doesn’t launch in the next month, you’ll disappear. If you have an exclusive beta on discord, include that info.

If you have a moment to shine, don’t step back and say “I’ll be back in 6 months”

EMPATHY

the abilty to understand… Empathy and creativity aligns you for success. This is especially good when dealing with the press. they have an audience. They need great content that the audience wants to know. The bigger audience the author can leverage, the more they can command value and attention. Put yourself in the shoes of the writer. not only that, but the audience of that writer. What does the reader want and how do you get them stoked toplay/buy this. What’s your value to the publisher? what’s your value to them

TARGETED OUTREACH

Google, twitter, and easily voila norbert.

Last night in the AIRBnB, he searched for the google query only in the IGN website AND VR. Here’s the result

Finding writers who like the genre and game type you create can be found this way. Use the tools button to change the date back to certain dates (not more than a year ago). This is a great way to reach out to writers who will likely have well-received reviews. In this example, I might not choose Calum Marsh, as he have only 1.5 stars. Rather than a cold email, a twitter contact might be good- we have their email, but in this example:

You might get immediate feedback. If you want anything, ask immediately. Even if it says they won’t, ask anyway. You won’t get anything if you don’t ask.

I don’t know how it finds these email addresses, but it does! first 50 are free. You can always get another gmail account.

THE IMPORTANCE OF CREATIVITY

Dominic had roughly 2 months to lead his game. he didn’t have a website, online presence, no press kit, nothing. But, after playing the game, they chose to take it on. Barebones wouldn’t work- no press releases, and they needed a spark for the launch- some newsfeeds (3 guarantees). To take it out of the hands of the press, they needed to get creative. S-nce binding of isaac had a hug following, they chose to go for that audience.  Those who played it, and LOVED IT. Since his game was so hard, it was an easy fit.

So what did we use? WordPress website, press kit, press lists, some other tools. The headline of the writer and the audience needed to match. SO what they did was choose that if you could receive a certain achievement on another super-difficult game with a massive following: Binding of Isaac (BOI), then you can have this game for free. It had to be a timed contest. Content creators, press, etc. They earned mass cover on the first day and it snowballed. They earned a ton of attention, but people who followed the influencers found out about this. They tweeted to other game developer and major content creators, and some of them picked it up

 

Mind Mapping For Success

The creative process through mind mapping can be visualized. They worked with a developer after the early access and launch. How could they inject that spark. THey added some materials which raised and lowered the difficulty level based on bitcoin rates. Using the advanced queries in google, they found games in FORBES magazine and website which likes video games and bitcoin. This person was able to take up the idea and really run with it. Once it rolled in FORBES, a few more places immediately picked it up.

Guerilla marketing is low cost, high risk, high reward. More often than not, that brings some nice feedback

when should you present? as soon as you’re presentable. Should niche games be the next big thing? Do what you’re passionate about. if its indy, if its the best new chess game, go for it. What if you have no specifc launch date, still show? yes, not a problem. What if lauch is approaching and you have no community? put yourself in the audinece shoes and give them what they need. get creative and think outside the box. use a simple demo. It may not be a high conversion, but it may bring coverage. Organize what you have, use it, and then extend into guerrilla tactics and target the people you genuinely believe will like it. It only takes a single reviewer to see things snowball. be thorough, find the best people and make it happen.

Advertisements

Failing Forward: How to Find Fun In Failure

Posted on Updated on

At 9:00am on 4/18/2018, I attended the presentation “Failing Forward: How to Find Fun In Failure”, Presented by Rebecca Slitt of Choice of Games, at the 2018 East Coast Gaming Conference in At the Raleigh Convention Center in Raleigh, NC.

Failing Forward: How to Find Fun in Failure

Rebecca Slitt is an editor and partner at Choice of Games, LLC. She is also the author of the interactive novels Psy High and First Year Demons. She has also contributed to the tabletop games Timewatch RPG, Noirlandia, and Geist; and is the author of the forthcoming Dark College Years. Before joining Choice of Games, Rebecca was a professor of medieval history, specializing in the aristocratic and military culture of twelfth-century England. She has presented on game design and interactive fiction at Worldcon, Arisia, the Villanova University Popular Culture Series, and the International Medieval Congress on Medieval Studies.

Failure can be awesome

For a story to have meaningful stakes, the protagonist needs to fail. Indeed, the best stories can come from overcoming failure to fight towards a final victory. Would Return of the Jedi be quite so satisfying if it didn’t follow the end of The Empire Strikes Back, when all seemed to be lost?

It’s easy to build this kind of structure into a book or a movie, but what about an interactive narrative medium such as a videogame? First, you can’t necessarily predict when the player will fail, or at what task. Second, if the player fails too much, they become discouraged, unhappy, and disengaged from the story – but if the player never fails, the game is boring: the stakes don’t feel real, and victory doesn’t feel satisfying. Third, failure can sometimes stall the story: if the only outcome of failure is “try again,” then the player can get stuck in a loop.

As a creator of text-only interactive fiction, Choice of Games has made “failing forward” one of its core design principles. Even if the player fails at an individual task, the story must keep moving forward; even if the player has a horrible failure overall, there must still be something awesome about that failure. In my presentation, I will examine some techniques of narrative and mechanics that can help maintain narrative momentum and player satisfaction through failure, such as multi-layered success, multiple goals, success-with-complications, and more.

The player can’t doo everything. Sometimes the story requires it and building the drama of fighting back or items which can show the player they are invested, even though they’ve failed.

What is the mechanical and narrative role of failure, techniques to make failure satisfying, and then some specific examples of how to make failure move things forward with scene-specific ad game-level failures. we ‘ll see some tools and create some awesome failures.

The goal is not to convie that failure happens., but rather to discuss why failure is awesome- how they fill needs. The mechnaical role of failuremechanicla role offeres constratint and boundarieis, rules, and teaches the plauer what they’re allowed to do, what good at, and what they should do. You can get better by trying and failing, and learning my experience.

Narratively, failure evokes emotions, stopping them from doing tng s they want to do and effectively making them wanting it more. Building drama makes sweeter the positive emotions of success.

All of this is caught up in stakes. IF the player cannot fail anything, the story doesn’t feel real. for the story to free real, there must be a chance to fail and also chance to succeed. If there is no success, no way to succeed, they will check out, and not be invested. As narrative designers and writers, we must communicate to the player, why they fail, what happens next, that they could have succeeded, and that there is still something to be done- a reason to continue the story.

Sometime the story line or arc requires failure. Sometimes the story suggests that success should exist, but it does not.

What comes after failure?

is it game over, is it try again immediately, is it a try again later mechanic? Must you go away, build up skills, and try again? some games have different mechanic and they aren’t the right tools for the job in particular.

 

Choice of Games

At this point in the presentation, Rebecca talked about the materials with Choice of Games. This portion of the material did not strike a chord with the audience because it seemed like product-specific marketing. she discussed her projects, the choice software that she used, and the decisions that she and her team wanted to make. As many people worked in diverse genres of gaming, talking about a pinpoint design that few if any use, it is mainly a wasted moment in the presentation.

Often, a presenter is interested in showing themselves, but the audience is trying to take the information and apply it to their industry or projects. While these items are specific to the speaker, and make the speaker feel good, the point of a presentation is to speak to the audience about a topic they want to hear about and apply. A presentation is not to pat yourself on the back.

 

Tiered success: partial success

Tabletop games make success and failure a part of the narrative function. They incorporate partial success- not either a success or a failure. One that does this wonderfully is Apocalypse World by Vincent and Meg Baker. Even without a success, you can get some success but still have a consequence of failure. Another tier success model such as found in Archipelago by Matthijs Holter is Yes, But… and No, But… These tiered success and tiered failure models are heavily used in improv.

In tabletop gaming, these items are clear. Its harder in a digital context, as the code is hidden. So we need to find ways to communicate it to the player.

Then there was an example from one of her games. At the mechanical level, the stat is tested. You can succeed well, succeed poorly, or fail. Narratively, at the top tier, you are the star, at success you get a small part, at failure you are out, but there is still a chance to get involve in an alternate fashion.

Similarly, she discussed a 2 items test: You might give bad orders and they are not followed- people die. You give the right orders but no one follows them- some people die. You give the wrong orders but they crew follow them- some people die. You give the right orders and everyone follows to the letter and everyone does well. As a result of this double-test, you may gain or lose TRUST in the crew which can be tested later.

Partial success gives you complexity in story branches. It allows for granularity in tests of character abilities- giving a greater sense of dynamism in the narrative, and a greater sense of customization.

The other major success is a yes… but result. Let the player know  the strengths and weaknesses, and how they might play to those strengths. If failing, yes, the story moves forward, but you lose resources and time. In a No.. but result, failure keeps the story moving forward, but you do not do what you’re supposed to and everyone thinks its brilliant.

Yes/No but… gives you and economy of story branches- introducing new stories through failure. It also allows for interesting tradeoffs among resources. This raises the stakes in different ways.

 

Extrapolating into long-term success and failure

While success or failure may seem as though it should happen now, digital games have an advantage in that a previous success or failure can reappear much later in a seemingly unrelated way. Rather than setting up a game where you can lose without and item from partway through the game- a 1 to 1 correspondence for satisfying failure may not exist. We need to revisit the top 4 strategies above and find new ones as needed.

Rather than failure-now or failure-later accounting, a system of “cumulative successes and failures” can be used. Small cumulative failures can add up to a point where later in the game a full failure is approached based on previous set of failures. Examples might include failed bluffs in the past, arrests, escapes when confronted, etc which might make you more known, causing you to be caught in the act due to recognition. Another example might be that a small failure might cause a guard to be more wary or more… on guard (on alert) making the chances of success lower and/or the alert levels to rise to make discovery easier.

 

Multiple goals

Having multiple goals allows for differing levels of success. It allows for strong replay value as you can try again to push a different result. You may be feared or beloved, may have many assets or few assets, may have tons of experience or lesser experience… multiple goals allow you to have specified results and a more personalized experience or also allowing a replay to include a better result at what your players truly desired.

With multiple goals, you can never get them all, you’ll have to make choices. By directing your gameplay, players will have the ability to choose the success and challenges that they wish to emphasize. Increase drama and investment by allowing your players to try, fail, and have a responsive environment which breaks out. You can always try again and succeed.

ECGC Conference: Serious Games to Effect Change

Posted on Updated on

At a 9am session in the East Coast Gaming Conference held in the Raleigh Convention Center, Phaedra Boinodiris spoke to the Serious Games Track audience about how Serious Games effect change.

ECGC Conference: Serious Games to Effect Change: The new business model in serious games

How the space is evolving and how we can use technology to evolve the space

WomenGames.com was started by Phaedra and a family member because no games were pointed or marketed to women. In fact, women were not encouraged to work in the industry. In the early days, the trend of ads and advertisements for video games began with families. Shortly thereafter, it starting to show only boys. This disenfranchised many women gamers. Once the Wii came out, more women and families began to be shown in commercials and advertisements. This prompted her to begin working in earnest to get back into gaming. Phaedra pursued her MBA to begin a business and get loans to get her business off the ground. In school at UNC, she worked on “case competitions”. This would allow students to come together with other colleges and pitch answers to real client issues. Her breakthrough project had to do with a problem business process management for IBM. She realized reading the papers provided that the problem was really just one of creating a proper strategy.

She pitched a video game to gauge, assess, and teach. The Vice President of IBM in attendence was interested in having a proof of concept to create a business process management game. He proceeded to grab her at the meeting, and request that she build and code a bpm simulator. Her first example INNOV8 was a call center environment. Character had to talk with employees and management and find out how the call center process was working. Required talking to people, and identifying issues and possible solutions. Suggested solutions could then be mapped out and used to determine their effectiveness. It was a hit, and she was hired. this was the innov8 engine.

innov8 2.0 was built to teach marketing tools for clients and business. it was an even bigger success, and IBM sales were enormous.

CityOne was her next roject, a smarter planet game. It was a simulator for a city with challenges. How can you effect change in a city systems? What steps might be needed to make an electric car for a smarter grid. How can we use games to explain the things we already do? With the success of this item, fast company listed them as a top serious games company

Working examples of current serious games include:

  • civilization for sustainability
  • fold-it for process options and complex problem solving
  • WOW for talent management
  • Eve online for strategy
  • Tetris to teach PTSD
  • Candy Crush for recruitment

So, how can you leverage games for management? Everyone wants it cheaper, faster, and customized for their businesses. That is the real opportunity for gaming businesses.. 99% of companies use their dollars for professional development, with a special focus on skills training. Games can be used to train individuals to do specific tasks quickly and often encourage them to try again if they fail (perform emergency surgery, fly a helicopter, etc.). Once you can create a game which can include real data, you can integrate strategic execution, teaching a skill and optimizing learning.

Last year, HR summits across the globe began focusing closely on serious gaming. Serious Gaming has some obvious advantages for HR. It is:

  • rapid dev
  • tested mechanics
  • inexpensive
  • sclable
  • visulal
  • engaging
  • repeat play
  • real data

How can you deliver on that?

We know you have built components that can be reused and repurposed. The future of game design is MODULAR design. Companies are outsourcing parts of games that are not ancillary to their business. Its same with software development. This is not a new trend.

Building modular components for your games and your designs allows you to sell not only your game, but also the pieces of the game. It would not be unthinkable that the pieces of what makes your game great might also be used by other games to make them great.

BLUEMIX- cloud based offering

What if your game could leverage Business Process Management Software? After innov8 2.0 — a game for marketing— was built, Dept of Defense became interested in their work. She presented her software at an enterprise architecture conference, and she was invited to present to the department of defense. They asked “How can we vet our playbook to be able to visualize the complexity of the situation, collaborate with one another, and communicate about issues well before boots are on the ground, and dollars are invested?” She presented a similar set of ideas to attack the problems she had been shown. She posited to them the idea of a game in which the actions and their reverberations could be shown.

“There is a confluent of gaming engines out there,” she noted “a deluge of data available to us at all times, and the ability to include this data in the game.”

She was asked after the even if she could show a game to demonstrate how they might affect an experience like logistics for getting aid to a country like Haiti in the midst of takeover or natural disaster.

She knew of a designer who had built a Resequencing engine for the game Achron (find at: http://www.achrongame.com ). The game allows players to go forward and backward in time. The engine was usable for process invitation. People can play the main characters or the adversary (could be manmade disasters such as alqueda, or natural disasters such as earthquakes, etc). As you play, you are effecting process change.

Could our team use this for commanders to optimize missions for platoons to examine and try again? With out team, we were able to integrate real data and make adjustments in real time. So one scenario could be played again and again, and different iterations might have topographical changes, troop and boat positioning differences, and natural disasters or uprisings that could be triggered at the hands of a secondary team or player. Teams could go head-to-head with real updating.

This was such a success they also requested the creation of another game called PointRecon for recon analysis, that worked in a similar way.

In healthcare, BreakAway Games created Code yellow, a hospital process optimization game. Certifications were needed to keep hospitals up to date. Most customers enjoyed a game in which a fictional hospital was setup and participants effected process change to assure that they received their certifications and training. However, not all were satisfied. Many wanted to see their own data reflecting in the game, not canned games, but their own hostpital numbers data and floorplans. They approached Phaedra and IBM to find out: “Can we base this on a service, piping information through the cloud?” This would allow them to create a modularized system into which The game hooks into hospital data fields and online records and floorplans.

Enter WATSON

Watson (the computer AI) looks at a question and gives answers with a percentage of confidence (see jeopardy, and the book 4D gaming with Watson). Watson was experimentally placed with a simulations similar to CityOne. Using a city plan, watson can react to placements of fire stations, etc. Rules are created PRIOR to game launch, and Watson can work within those rules to create challenging gameplay. Imagine the rules integrated with Watson on a broader scale, or within YOUR game. Rather than a developer setting every mission, an artificial intelligence can take city data and codes into account before on real historic data, etc. what will that mean for defense, public policy, etc. What if scenarios can really help build a city more efficiently?

City Resilience Game

What if your game had real analytical computer engine behind it? Serious games are good for assessing your work personality and leadership. Kenexa is the standard IBM process for assessing potential employees. The project gives a multipage assessment upon completion. How you approach the task tells them about you and how you work individually and in a team environment. The future of HR is in analytics.

Workright created the game: The Guardian Angel. Biofeedback and sensors were integrated into clothes and helmets. These items of work uniform (helmeted sensors, clothing with GPS and biofeedback) were used to locate persons on the construction jobsite to note how their bodies reacted when in certain zones, how and where they traveled in the site, and how their bodies reacted to area of the jobsite. It is interesting to find out how your analytics might gauge biofeedback to help create a safe work environment and process change.

What if your game had a social wrapper?

The Next Grand challenge is to see how larger companies and systems can leverage social tools in their business enviroment. IBM’s Grand Challenge leveraged social tools to leverage worker participation. This materials was covered pretty heavily last year. Find the article: ECGC: Gamified Talent Management: Using RPG design to motivate employees and redefine work.

bluemix

Bluemix is a platform specifically built for gaming. The need for this system comes directly from students and business owners who have an idea to get a game off the ground but may not have the ability to purchase all the front-end work, or may have a great component and no way to bring it to the market.

Monetize their IP. Build your market and win together. Developing on bluemix can be built as a web service. Integrate your service or game with other services, and then sell it. 130 million people play with IBM services. (here she talks about working with IBM as a business partner)

Bluemix is made on SOFTLAYER ( cloudant ). Thursday you can sign up to meet with a bluemix consultant. The Watson incubator lead will be looking for projects to fund new materials. See games at work.biz

Q&A

If I’m a small studio, why is this interesting to me?
If you don’t have the bandwidth or funding to make your own AI, bandwidth, etc. BLuemix is pay as you go, and has a free trial. Use their services to meet enterprise-level clients without having to spend up front.

Success metrics: what can you plug in to give back to clients:
What are the success metrics? What do I need to show? When you build your own platform, you need to integrate into that platform how to cough up those metrics at any time. Bluemix has those capabilities already built into the system and they can be adjusted live.

Without a client, will I have to make my own use cases? There are wide ways to go about this. You might break into groups of participants or not. Bluemix has built-in analytics and that can be used.

Business and gamification. Those who ignore this… where do you see them going?
Few notes: a large trough of disillusionment on gamification. because points, badges and leaderboards are enough to cause change. But it fails. Those who go about this the right way find work attitude, process, and participation go up. I suggest you read this book on motivation THE BOOK DRIVE. What motivates us is a sense of self-direction. I encourage you to read the book and think about if the book is giving them mastery, purpose, self-direction, etc. you really want this to be as engaging and enjoyable as possible

You talk about fast turnaround times. How big were your teams?
innov8 and DOD games. innov8: 1-3 months per iteration. Teams of 7 part-time people. Artist, sound, etc. For large data-integration and AI-integration, they aren’t ready to integrate. We create a canned diversion of this. As data sets become available, different iterations will change. With a cloud model, times have drastically increased. However, we can’t wait a year for the military to have ISIS training. How can you create a game that changes and is customized with new data in a modular design environment? Only through integration of live data, and that is what makes Bluemix and cloud data integration so exiting.

how does bluemix work with twitter?
What are people saying about the game? Learn more at the bluemix booth.

As a teacher, what within bluemix would be valuable?
We will have an academic initiative, but its coming slowly. To leverage a free trial, join the academic roster. Then you’ll be able to find out as soon as possible when that’s available.

Learner metrics with bluemix.
Kenexa team will be looking to move onto bluemix. Once that is integrated, you’ll be able to find many ways to use our HR metrics.

Using Watson would compromize gameplay because no programmer could be involved. However, no programmer can access all info fast enough. Watson is really to mirror the real environment, because that’s what we want. In gaming, Watson could be an advisor for the gamer. If you have certain players, what is the best gameplay methods to win? Can Watson recognze patterns and advise in real time? If you could use a game to teach Watson faster, that would be fantastic.

Phaedra Boinodiris is the Global Lead for Serious Games and Gamification at IBM

ECGC: A Freelancer’s Guide to Hustling Online

Posted on Updated on

ecgc-session

Freelancer’s Guide to Hustling Online, Professional development at the East Coast Gaming Convention (ECGC), 3/24/14

You can freelance in multiple genres, but the materials discuss here are primarily for writers. However, I stress that this can be applied to any freelancer. Freelancing is a trial by fire. If you want to be successful, research clients, research fleelance websites, and other freelancers. You should hustle online because sooo many clients are online, looking online, and you have Sooo many options to choose from online.

A freelancer:

  • Is a self-employed contractor
  • Can fire any client
  • Can establish their work style and work schedule
  • Can choose your projects
  • Is allowed to set your own wages

Keep excellent records of your earnings and expenses. You are legally responsible for your own taxes 4 times a year. Consider if you need to open a sole proprietor business or llc.

Research work-for-hire agreements. Read up on the law. Make sure you transfer rights to the client in the contract. You do have a contract prepared, right?

Experience lets you know how to manage your time. It will let you know what each job should entail, cost, etc. It will also give you confidence. Again, get records to know this, and review your records during down-time to establish a baseline for times and fees. If you’re inexperienced, build your portfolio. If you have completed work done under an NDA, just ask the owner of the rights if you can use it. Your samples are like free advertising for them and their products. Look for smaller jobs that you know you can do quickly (not cheaply!) to gain experience,

professional rates vs. Semiprofessional rates.
Sometimes its okay to earn semi-professional rates. Semi pro rates are less (1-4 cents per word). When choosing to take semiprofessional rates, understand and hold fast to the idea that these rates cannot be for something that takes little time, not full time, or even part time.

Passion is great and keeps you going, it lets you be better at what you do. However, many people will try to take advantage of that… They think: “you have passion- so what.”

“Passion” to clients means:

  • no experience.
  • I might lose my passion…
  • Don’t pay me much, I’m passionate.
  • Passion is an emotion, could be drama

Don’t ever use: Aspiring,  Student,  Amateur,  Looking for experience. Say what you are, and OWN IT. be confident. People are spending money. You are a writer, a game writer, a designer, a developer. Say it.

 

Things to consider while freelancing

Be professional.
Have a website where people an find you. It doesn’t have to be best ever, just show you can be professional looking. Make your online material is FANTASTIC! watermark your portfolio samples and convert them to PDF if you can. Specify what kind of work you do and have a veriety of samples that illustrate your range. Connect social media accounts, and destroy or distance yourself from accounts that might make you look unhinged. Promote your business where its appropriate, but do not spam sites or forum comments with your links

Profiles.
Explain what your value is, avoid problematic buzzwords. Talk about your experience. Proofread everything twice. Then do it again. Then get someone else to check it.

Rates.
People lowball because”

  • They need experience
  • They are trying to establish themselves
  • They don’t know what to charge
  • They can always raise it later.

Don’t lowball. Clients will equate your skill with the price you request. Lowballing makes it difficult to raise prices. Lowballers have rates online, and new clients will expect the old rate. repeat clients may not be able to meet the new rate. Lowballers ruin everyone’s cash flow- And clients end up having poor expectations.

So how do you set your rates?
Your rate can be based on education , previous work history, the current market rate, your work in field
Consider your living expenses: rent groceries, car payment, loans, debt
allindiewriters.com/freelance-hourly-rate-calculator

Thrive, not survive: Consider the following pricing sets
Writers guild of great britain 70-95 hour
Editorial freelancers copywriting 40-50 hour / 20-25/word
Search for: “How much should I charge pdf” online

Contracts and clauses
Have a work-for-hire contract. Specify the number of revisions. You can get templates online or hire a lawyer/ Note what the work entails, how to pay you and how much , how you will be credited, breakdown of milestones-dates of sending work, getting paid, when to receive feedback- a full description of deliverables, feedback options and payment. What you will be payed when work goes beyond the scope. Attach payment received to milestones because you need money in the process. Getting paid after first draft and each revision, for example.

Work-for-hire must assign the rights to someone else, so include “all rights will transfer to client upon final payment.” In your contract. This notes that any lack of payment will have you keeping the rights for the work produced.

Jobs longer than 1 week should have a retainer for your services- This retains time on your scheduling calendar. It identifies a serious client and protects you for non-payment. The client bleeds a little bit, sacrificing something to get the work.

Where to look online for work?

  • craigslist and similar sites
  • forums
  • freelance sites.

Freelance sites
Read the Terms of service (TOS), read the contract agreements, find out if you can you use your own contract? Know how to add your own agreements so they’re legally binding, know how jobs are awarded, find out how freelancers are paid through the platform, review the types of jobs posted. People will get away with things!! Send in your Bid with a proposal. Read everything about how the site works.

Finding jobs
People are looking to scam freelancers, and great clients too. Don’t try to compete on price. Get the price that’s right for you. They expect YOU to know the right rate and educate them. TRUST YOUR INTUITION. Don’t dismiss postings with a lack of information. Ignore clients who seem too demanding in their communications- if they seem like jerks in writing, they’re probably jerks. Determining amount of work needed and the budget. If the amount i laughable, dont bother. Review feedback client has given and received on freelance websites- are comments nasty or complementary? Do they show jobs uncompleted and what were the freelancer responses.

Contacting a client
Focus on: Your expertise as its relevant to the client job, thoughtful questions to engage client, give fee for job. Talk qualifications only if they relate to the job. Don’t go into detail, just give a taste. Send query letters if you want. show your interest in the project, your ability to identify the client/project need, encourage the client to respond/start a conversation.

Always include a preliminary fee. Give a breakdown of costs, talk about miletones, mention all rights will transfer upon final payment. Always be professional. Always send smaples. give them something to look at. Send relevant samples if you do have it. Write the proposal, send it, and then forget it. If you wait for responses, you’ll miss other opportunities.

Establish professional relationships.
Set boundaries. Set hours and meeting times, come to an agreement. Always be professional in communication and feedback. Don’t get blackmailed into good feedback on a job for less/no payment. Help clients understand what they need. Give advice, and don’t take over the project. If anything goes sour, you want the client to look like a chump, rather than you or equal faults. Ultimately, you are not the client, and its not about YOU. Its about them and their needs.

ECGC: Gamified Talent Management: Using RPG design to motivate employees and redefine work

Posted on Updated on

Gamification and Leadership

Today at ECGC (The East Coast Gaming Conference), I attending a leadership training seminar: Gamified Talent Management: Using RPG design to motivate employees and redefine work, a lecture by IBM guru Phaedra Boinodiris. This was really fantastic, and should fit nicely with the classroom gamification that I’d like to see in some of our flagging classes. Phaedra Boinodiris identified 4 major attributes of using gamification to find and motivate successful employees:

  1. Cognitive stability
  2. Cognitive complexity
  3. motor-impusivity
  4. establishes a baseline

She then demonstrated a game used for potential employees, a game in which the user built a structure with spots and lines to reach a given point. This could then be used with responsive software to determine some of the cognitive qualities of the individual to help with the onboarding process. She further showed some proprietary software (darnit!) which could be used to chart an individual’s current state and progress in a gamification environment: Nick’s portal environment result from data showing changes and adjustment over time.

Using their previous data as well as the results of the employee profile and reviews, a composite was created similarly to a character sheet– showing calculated mentor matches (along with that mentor employee’s contact information, job matches and suggested promotion track to achieve it, how that employee ranked against others in the industry, how that employee was perceived by their peers, how the current marketplace is embracing their recognized skillsets, an employee assessment, and list of training or certifications suggested for the employee.

Upon my request, Ms. Boinodiris would not reveal information about IBM’s proprietary software. 😦

Questions posed by the leaders using this software required the team to be evaluated as a group. Once all members had taken the assessment, a team could further be assessed, posing questions based upon the team performance in addition to the qualities shown by the team:

  • “To be good at my job, what paths need to be completed?”
  • “What training needs to be completed by our current team?”
  • “What training might need to be required of new or potential team members?”
  • “How many goals are being completed within the group?”
  • “What is it about the ‘class’ of employee that makes this optimal or in need to accomplish our team or individual goals?”

Based on results of these tests and questions, what kind of employees are they? Could you give them designations such as hunter, farmer, leader, etc.? After a class designation has been properly identified, can you change or adjust these designations to make your team the team you desire or the team numbers show is best suited for a particular task?

Once backed up with data, adjustments to your staff’s ‘class’ could be made by sending them ‘quests’ perhaps once per day or week. These quest tasks would slowly evolve the thinking of the team or team members, so that training is no longer siloed. For instance, you might recognize ‘Hunter’ employees as those who track down new, effective leads. ‘Farmers’ on the other hand, might be constantly revisiting old leads to grow new business in already fertile ground. You might assign hunters to revisit ‘old hunting grounds’ once a day and slowly evolve their systems. Farmers on the other hand, might strike out into leads on ‘newly forested areas’ where they can begin relationships and begin a new harvesting in new areas.

By removing the siloed training, you make continual training something that is both approachable and achievable. Also, it CAN become fun. However, you must find ways to provide tailored content to make sure your employees know what they need to do, or show them how they can improve.

It is vitally important to remember: As far as gamification goes, if you’re spending a majority of your time at the beginning determining what motivates your audience, you are doing it wrong.

When adding gamification to your school, workplace, etc, you must avoid the ‘chocolate covered brocoli’ – adding a small benefit to something which your population already hates. A badge alone will NOT motivate the students or employees anymore than covering something they don’t want with chocolate.

The Multiplayer Classroom by Sheldon Lee
The Multiplayer Classroom by Sheldon Lee

Consider reading The Multiplayer Classroom by Sheldon Lee. (I spoke with Sheldon Lee the author during a conference call last week. This was great timing!)

seriousgames_book
Serious Games for Business by Phaedra Boinodiris

Also consider reading Serious Games for Business by Phaedra Boinodiris

 

I felt this was a great presentation, and I learned a lot that I felt would be helpful in methods of leadership! Tell me what you think!