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GOTHOS
05-28-2016, 02:34 AM
Everybody knows that RPGs that prove popular may give birth to novel serials, movies, etc.

Have any authors ever attempted to increase a project's popularity via social media by using some form of online game to promote the related project?

Notice that I use the term "social media" in its most generic term. I'm not on any of them as yet, and some, like Pinterest, could not be used for game-promotion-- but I get the sense that some, possibly Facebook, might be used for this highly speculative purpose.

NateSean
05-28-2016, 06:11 PM
Have any authors ever attempted to increase a project's popularity via social media by using some form of online game to promote the related project?

I feel like that would be a very labor intensive product. I barely have enough money to scrape together for a premade book cover that barely implies what the story might be about, without having to go through the effort of scripting, developing, and now promoting an entirely different product with it's own set of challenges.

I'd be all for it, but I would have to have a massive following of people who have actually paid for my book and are looking forward to more before I considered branching out into other forms of promotion.

Old Hack
05-29-2016, 10:30 AM
I worked in games publishing decades ago. We often published tie-ins, which were adaptations of books, movies or comic books. But they weren't ever published as purely promotional items: they were always published as products which had to work well on their own. Games are very labour-intensive to produce properly, and take a lot of expertise to do well. If you tried to bring one out on the cheap, you wouldn't want your book associated with the poor product you'd end up with: it would probably put people off your book, not make them want to buy it.

VeryBigBeard
05-29-2016, 11:23 AM
I worked in games publishing decades ago. We often published tie-ins, which were adaptations of books, movies or comic books. But they weren't ever published as purely promotional items: they were always published as products which had to work well on their own. Games are very labour-intensive to produce properly, and take a lot of expertise to do well. If you tried to bring one out on the cheap, you wouldn't want your book associated with the poor product you'd end up with: it would probably put people off your book, not make them want to buy it.

+1 to all of this. You gotta make a good game, which is really hard to do. In a lot of ways, harder than writing a good book. The easiest way to promote a good book is to write a really good book.

Tie-in games have a bit of a checkered history. There have been some really great ones. There have been some really not-great ones. When they're good, they tend to fly under the radar a bit and I've met games people who really dislike tie-ins because they often feel kind of tacked on. It's not uncommon for, say, a Disney to hire a game studio to produce a game to go along with a Star Wars release and this keeps a lot of good people in jobs in an otherwise notoriously unstable industry. Note that Disney has oodles of money. Myself, I've played enough really good Star Wars tie-ins to see them as at least having potential (*sobs over LucasArts Games closure*). The good ones tend to be the ones that are made with the IP but which have their own slice of it, so to speak. Or their own take. The not-so-good ones tend to have been rushed out with all the latest gaming trends to try and capitalize on a release.

What you're really talking about if you mean Facebook, OP, is some sort of alternate reality game. These have happened--there was a really good one around the Mass Effect 2 launch called "Cerberus News Network" that you might read up on. Again, big project, much expense, proper development--and that's all with an established game's fanbase and a massive publisher. Marketing new games and getting discoverability for them is hard, especially right now and especially without a big publisher. If you love making games, it's a worthwhile pursuit. If you want to write a novel, write a novel.

GOTHOS
05-29-2016, 10:52 PM
I agree that novels have to sell themselves on their own merits. What I'm actually contemplating, though, is a non-fiction project, and I'm wondering if there's any way to increase visibility of that project with a game. I must admit that most games are probably tied into established fiction franchises, so it's sort of a long shot, if not an impossible one.

I guess I'm looking at something along the line of a specialized form of Trivial Pursuit, for what that's worth.

Old Hack
05-30-2016, 10:19 AM
I wouldn't use up the rights to that product by putting out your own game. Write the book, then get an agent who can sell both book and game rights.

SBibb
06-03-2016, 12:46 AM
Not sure if I'm understanding what you mean by a social media game, so this may not apply to you, but my husband and I created a tabletop card game alongside a steampunk fantasy story that we're releasing as a serial blog. We put a lot of time into creating the game (and put a bit of money into proofing it). We created our own art, did a lot of beta-testing, and we finally released it in February. We launched the blog series at the same time. At this point, we've had zero sales of the game (granted, I suspect part of that has to do with not having copies available to sell on hand directly to people at local places), and I'm not sure if anyone is actually reading the blog series.

It's only been a few months since we've released it, but I will caution that just because you have the game or the book, doesn't mean it will work as a cross-promotional tool. (Now, there are other factors here, such as the point that the art for the game may be going for the entirely wrong audience).

I won't say not to do it, but make sure both products are fully developed and stand alone of each other. And be wary... creating a game (and making sure it's not broken) can take a lot of time.

But if you do give it a try, good luck! I would love to know what works for you and doesn't. :-)

VeryBigBeard
06-03-2016, 08:18 AM
I was going to respond again and then my internet cut out for three days. After some lovely technobabbling with my ISP, I'm back to respond.

What I think we're all trying to tell you here is that you're coming at this from slightly the wrong direction, and maybe missing a couple crucial steps, too.

You have to think a bit about what kind of game you're making. Social trivia? Board-game trivia? Some kind of videogame? This is critical because each of these have their own development communities and sales platforms. Even different audiences. You might consider how much of your book's audience would even play a trivial pursuit game, or a game on social media.

Making a mechanic into a game is Hard. Some game folk, myself included, get a bit testy when people assume these bright, colourful gadgets are easy to make. Not saying you're doing it, but approaching it with an attitude of "This is cool, let's do it," can lead to missing some crucial thinking. Figure out if you really need this.

On the other hand, if this is something you just want to experiment with, there's much to be said for diving in and learning as you go. Good games have been made that way. Just don't have what you can't afford--time, money, a book--riding on it, because chances are you will fail.

Most games fail in production. A cool concept never gets to playable because of lack of prototyping, lack of scoping, lack of testing, lack of talent--lack of any serious planning, basically.

Many games then fail at getting to players. Either they're never discovered because they're hosted on personal sites and can't/don't generate word-of-mouth or they don't connect with a publisher and can't get on the games marketplaces and into stores. A successful game is usually super-targeted: I could make a killer platformer and do amazingly with the platform market and if you don't play platformers, you'll never see it.

Even then, most games fail. The kind of investment it costs to get serious numbers of players is almost silly and incredibly restrictive. Indie is amazing, but also rarely profitable. It's not impossible, but tough, even with a good game that gets people in the games community talking. Unless your book is about hard-core VR rigs, I just don't see how you're going to get the kind of exposure with it that will drive people to the book in enough numbers to justify the effort.

What I might suggest instead, so as not to end this on a total downer, is to look into making a small game as an extension of the book. It probably won't help sales, but it could be an interesting way to garner some ongoing engagement as long as you're expecting very little and making it is something you would want to try anyway. Look at it as an "end-game content" thing, and tie it to the book's subject matter. So it might be a quiz, it might be trivia, it might some other kind of interactive, ongoing story. Keep it very lo-fi. Try to find a convenient tool that meshes with your knowledge base: Twine is useful for this. Let it be a thing people can tinker with, a bit like a book's website. More and more journalists are doing stuff like this by finding ways to put the data and research they've done for the book in interactive form--this is a particularly good one (http://waterlife.nfb.ca/#/) (warning: that link is gonna want to load for awhile)--sometimes with incredibly high production values, other times just by thinking of how stories can be arranged interactively.

The main thing to understand is that this is an entire skillset. This kind of thing is a job for people like me, who are digital narrative folks. That's why I mentioned Disney, because Disney will often call up people like me (albeit people with more experience than me) and say, "This is our thing coming out: make an interactive tie-in." And, with a large amount of money, something like that Great Lakes link is possible. Or something like this project (http://www.internationalreporting.org/cut/splash.php), which is a bit more straightforward and still took several friends of mine and a bunch of journalists several months to build.

If you're serious about this, go out and get your feet wet. Try a few little experiments. Go to some meet-ups for digital journalists and/or game developers. Talk to them with an open mind.

Good luck!

GOTHOS
06-04-2016, 12:36 AM
Thanks for all the input. I will continue to research the subject for now.

SBibb, if you read this, what resource did you use to acquire your "beta-testing?" Something akin to the beta-test subforum here?

SBibb
06-16-2016, 08:31 AM
Sorry for not responding sooner. Hadn't been on the forums for a while.

Our beta-testers actually came from a chance meeting with our writing group. Our group usually holds two meetings, one in the afternoon, one in the evening. So we didn't know everyone in the group. Then, at New Years, our group leader hosted a write-in. She told us to bring along our game (we had a printed beta version at that time), since her husband enjoyed games. We brought it along and he gave us some good advice. We also caught the interest of three other members (siblings), and we asked if they would be interested in play-testing the game with us. After that, we started meeting on weekends to try out the cards and see how it worked. Later on, we brought in a friend who used to role-play games with us. They were our primary beta testers. Before that, we had a friend who used to run a game shop take a look at it, and he was able to point out a lot of flaws we wouldn't have caught on our own.

So, I guess the main thing would be start with looking around the community of people you know, mentioning it to people who might be interested. Granted, we had a reasonably functional game that worked between the two of us before we put it out there for other people to test (and subsequently break... so that we could find ways to fix it). It was nerve-wracking watching people play it who we only barely knew at the time, since we weren't sure how well the game would be received.

Good luck. :-)