As a game developer, there have been many nights lost pondering a game concept that I had. It is one of my favorite parts of game jams specifically. I love coming up with new, creative ideas. Perhaps I am spinning from another game, combining a couple of ideas, or creating something entirely original. Either way, most people aspiring to get into game design often start here. The next part is trying to figure out how to go about building it.

How do I suggest a video game idea? Suggesting a video game requires a thorough game design document containing concept art, game mechanic information, and a clear marketing strategy.

Suggesting a video game idea entails quite a bit of preparation. See a video below about the importance of having clear communication. Starting with a simple description is a great place to start, but it is recommended that you take it a step further to review your intent. When determining your intent, you should evaluate your audience

While suggesting a video game idea to a company or individual sounds like an easy task, it often takes time and energy to get your pitch to a place that convinces people to get behind it. As a teacher, I hear pitches each year from students. There have been some great ones, there have been some terrible ones. I can assure you though, effort will go a long way towards having people back your concept. In my research, I want to talk about some areas that I believe to be fairly important.

The first place to begin is with your game design document. It should be thorough. No one will listen to an idea that isn’t well thought through. You should not only consider the strengths of your game idea, but the weaknesses as well. Many of the ideas mentioned below should be included in your game design document, but you should also be prepared to speak of them.

Start With an Elevator Pitch

In our time being in contests and having to present or suggest a video game idea to someone, often the biggest hurdle for students is explaining their game in simple terms. The idea of the elevator pitch is that you should be able to tell people about your game in no more than three to four sentences. If you can’t gather peoples attention from there, then you will lose them for the rest of the presentation.

If you are speaking with a publisher, most are familiar with terminology and acronyms, but this is less about the technical side, and more about getting people on board with the overall idea of your game. I think a simple “My game is an RPG Platformer built for mobile.” Is sufficient. Instead of explaining that technically, use the rest of your elevator pitch to talk about the unique aspects of your game, or something that provides a clear picture of what your game is. Some examples here may be that if you are heavily story driven, give a couple of sentences on what is appealing about the story. If your game is combat driven, talk about unique combat mechanics you have in the game. You should tailor the elevator pitch to create excitement and interest.

Speak on Key Mechanics

Once you have your audience interested in the game, dive a little bit deeper into the key mechanics. In this area, I would be looking for something that sets this game apart from the rest. Avoid comments such as, “I am building a game like ____, but better.” Why is it better? If you can answer that question, focus on that.

I believe people have tendency when speaking of mechanics to talk entirely of other games. Always keep in mind as you are pitching, you are not trying to sell me on another successful game, instead, you are selling me on YOUR game. You can use other games as examples, but always tie it back to your game and explain how that mechanic will be implemented in your environment.

Show the Audience Your Current Status

If I am part of your audience you are suggesting a game idea to, I want to see your passion. Have you ever heard someone tell you how great of a basketball player they are? My first feeling is always thinking, “great, prove it.” The same applies here. You can tell me your passionate about a project, but until you have invested a little bit of sweat equity, I am not confident in how passionate you truly are.

Use the third section of your pitch to provide what you have. My advice here is that you want to show quite polished content. As an example, I am not that impressed by a very simple prototype. Instead, show me a nicely finished concept art piece for the environment or a main character within the game. If you have completed models, show me a handful of those assets that will represent the feel and tone of the game.

If you are programmer, consider showing one mechanic in a small portion of the map that looks fairly complete. The mechanic should function, and perhaps it’s just a small video clip. Always remember that your passion will bleed over into what you have completed. If you have not completed anything, you are probably not ready to pitch.

Address Hesitations About Your Technical Abilities and Experience

One of the last sections, is I want to hear what you are bringing to the table. Be proud of your skillset. If you are 3D modeler, instead of saying “I can create some of the models, but I need someone else to create the rest of the game.” How about saying, “I am prepared to create all of the models for the games, including texturing, preparing them to be placed into environment, and assisting with level design.” You are bringing a lot to the table there, you do not need to downplay your role.

The biggest issue for me here is that I want to hear that you will be providing some value to the project more than your idea. Most developers do not need someone instructing them what to do. Instead, they need someone to come along side them and truly help complete the project. Being a project manager is great, but in small teams you need to be a bigger player than this.

If you have no current technical skillset, you are not ready to pitch. I think you should go work on developing a skill that fits into the game development environment. If you are more artistically talented, you may look at concept art, 2D or 3D art. If you have any programming experience, you might consider learning a game engine and how to work within that environment. You will be surprised what you can learn with a couple of hours per day for a couple of months.

Be Specific With Your Needs

In most cases where you are trying to suggest an idea for a video game, you generally have a purpose or a need of some kind. If it’s a friend, you are looking for feedback. If it’s for business purposes, you are probably needing something such as funding or technical assistance. This is where you simply need to be upfront and honest.

If you are pitching to a publisher, end it with being very specific in what you are seeking. If the deal isn’t right, do not sign on the dotted line. If the agreement just doesn’t feel right, it may be time to walk away. There are many people that avoid publishers at all cost because of the nature of taking an idea and profiting the most.

Try to be realistic with your requests. A publisher is not going to put hundreds of thousands of dollars behind a project that they are not confident will be successful. What type of market research have you done? Do you know how much are you going to sell the video game for? If you have not researched this side, then how can you convince the audience your idea can be a good business deal for them? This needs to be thought out. I wrote a post about how to market your game that may be helpful.

If you are looking for technical expertise, you might need to know an estimate of how many hours of work would be needed on the project. This type of research will help the publisher know that you have thought of more than just your idea for the video game, but the business side of it as well.

If you have been able to suggest a video game idea successfully, I would love to hear about your strategy.