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Engagement Beyond the Game

Jennifer Dawe Animator and Character Designer for Seedscape. @GMShivers

Game Development has evolved a lot since I started in 2003, with so many developers it can be difficult to get the word out about your game in particular. Many still make the mistake of “Good game equals big audience,” but there are thousands of people also thinking that very same thing. It can be stressful and challenging to get your name out there.

So, how do you get seen as the one fish in a very large pond?

One of the ways to attract people to your game is via free, shareable content. Things that other people want to engage with and share. On Tumblr our engagement rate for posts that contain printables (papercraft, comics, etc) and gifs is far greater than any normal content (e.g. screenshots, video, text promotion). We spend quite a few hours a week analyzing this data and looking for new ways to reach and expand our potential audience.

I recently started looking into HTML5 development and specifically how to generate content that would get more people to engage. That’s when I came across Animatron.

I was pleasantly surprised how easy Animatron is to use. I did a test run using a version of the slug from Seedscape that I redrew in Inkscape (another free tool that is highly compatible with Animatron).

What I found most interesting is the consideration for replicating content to share across multiple social media platforms. For example, with the starter version of Animatron I can take an animation I created and export it as a gif, which makes putting anything from a website on to Twitter or Tumblr a very simple process.

An animation like this can be shared many times, and is enjoyable to see every time. It is not an annoying pop up, but a gentle way to get your message across like a living storybook: And if you are lucky, it could go viral on social networks.

In the coming years it’s going to get more and more important for independent game developers to offer extra content to get that subtle edge on the competition, and create a living world that doubles as promotion and is more than just “The Game.”

This type of content shows you are invested and you care about the audience being part of your world. Too many of us believe that if the work isn’t focused exclusively on game content, then it doesn’t count as work on the game. This disregards the bigger picture of game development, which includes building a community, promotion, and generally making people aware your game even exists. With a tool like Animatron, artists can give a few idle hands on your team some artwork/assets and they can put together engaging content in a very short period of time.

Remember, you’re not just building a game, you’re building a community, so get out there and engage!