OK, so what is speed-dating in this context? This is something that has been going on at US games conventions for a few years now, and is basically a session where game designers have their prototype set out on a table, and then have a series of publishers parading through to receive a 5-minute pitch on each game. I gather that the USian way of doing this is to have the designers pay a table fee and then they are off. It's potentially pretty efficient for both designers and publishers as while there will be a lot of misses, you get through them quickly and can potentially set up deeper meetings for later with the most likely candidates.
|Not the world's sexiest sell sheet, but it got me there.|
This is the second year that UK Games Expo has hosted an event like this, and it runs a little differently in that the tables are free, but there is an application process where designers submit a sell sheet (basically a one-page summary of the key attractions of the game) for one of their games, and those sell sheets are distributed to a number of the publishers who are planning on attending. The publishers vote for the games that interest them the most and the designers of the most popular games are invited to the event. I'm not sure of the precise procedure, but that's approximately it.
The benefit here is that, if you are invited to take part on the day, you know that at least some of the publishers in attendance have expressed interest in your game. There are bound to be some who have no interest at all, but just knowing that you have impressed someone, at least a bit, is a huge boost.
So, I'm in, and now I need to figure out my pitch. I'm currently in the process of reading the "Board Game Design Advice" book from the Board Game Design Lab and there is a lot of advice in there about making pitches. So far, some of the key points to remember are:
- What is the key attraction (the hook) of the game? Focus on the experience.
- What are the basics (play time, number of players, who you are, how you win, etc.)?
- Treat the publisher like a person, have a conversation with them, and listen to what they say.
- Be ready to show the key parts of game play, but don't get bogged down in detail, so probably show the mid-game, or the coolest bit.
With that in mind, I need to craft my pitch that I can do in, say, two or three minutes, so there is space for discussion. I'm working on it, but have just a week to go...