Wednesday, December 23, 2009

An Advertising Approach to High Concept Pitching (Part I)

In Part I of this article, scholar Altug Isigan looks at the structure of commercials to see what tactics from advertising can be applied to high concept game pitching.

First and foremost we need to remember that the high concept has a target audience of its own. Often this target is the company’s creative director or someone in a similar lead or executive role who is well aware of the trends and brands out there in the market. This person will have a strong gut feel for what sells and what doesn’t because of her prior industry experience and closer relations to the people in the company’s marketing and R&D departments. Furthermore, as part of her job, this person must maintain a certain vision about company goals and product lines. It can be assumed that this person is skilled in seeing whether there is a match between the game vision in the proposed high concept and the player profiles that the company usually targets with its products (or now plans to expand into). Our goal is to communicate to this person the "match" we believe our game idea is.

Now this goal is exactly the reason why we should look into a few advertising techniques to find out whether we could learn something from the structure of commercials for better pitching.

The Structure of a Typical Commercial

To put it very simple, the structure of a typical commercial looks like this:

Teasers = Holding Mirrors into Faces

Teasers are not just fancy graphics or sounds. They are active attempts to pin down someone as their addressee. That means that teasers express a need or a problem of the addressee in a way in which the addressee usually isn’t able to express it. When addressees are confronted with the teaser, it will catch their attention because they will immediately relate to what is being said and they will like it that something about them has been expressed so much to the spot. Being “identified” by the teaser, now the addressee will be curious and willing to listen to more, since it looks like someone is really understanding them here. In short: whatever problem or need the teaser addresses, it should translate to the addressee as “Now that is something for me! Let me have a closer look at it!”

But it’s not just about finding the right title, tagline or catchphrase. Teasers are also about using the right graphical devices to create an overall impact and to guide the reader’s eye to what is essential. You should always carefully consider your layout and typography options. Even if it is a single page, the high concept can already reveal mood and identity through font type and size, spacing, paper type and color etc. Maybe you can come up with an illustration that serves as a summarizing metaphor of the game?

Altug Isigan is a scholar at the Eastern Mediterranean University, Department of Radio-TV and Film, in sunny Famagusta, Cyprus, where he is writing a dissertation on narrative in games. You can read more of his work at his blog, the Ludosphere.


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