Indie Gaming Lessons Learned from BBQ

Reading the title alone probably makes no sense at all. Allow me to explain.

Sweet, sweet gaming goodness.

First of all, read this article.

If you are too lazy to go read it (which I hope you aren’t, as it talks about BBQ, and delicious food), it basically lists a few reason why food trucks are great at innovating,.

Replace the words ‘food truck’ with ‘Independent Game Studio’ and you’d be surprised at how well it fits. Let’s try this:

Smaller Entry Barriers = Greater Risk Taking

Works the same for an independent game studio, no? Ever notice how a lot of the small guys aren’t afraid to try new ideas, especially ones that might not make it big? World of Goo, Narbacular Drop, Braid, Fez, etc. I’m sure I could go on listing independent games that have done something different that would probably have not been done by a big studio for a fear of a lack of sales.

The industry right now is doing great in that respect because we have such a low barrier to getting into the industry. For a small price (or no price at all, in some cases!) a person can develop on the Xbox 360, Windows Phone 7, iPad, iPhone, Android, PC, and so on. We don’t live in the days only being able to do development through expensive dev kits.

Carve Your Niche and Stay Focused

…still makes sense in context of game development. Look at a company like Popcap. They know their niche, and stick with it. I can’t picture them making the next Run n’ Gun Nuclear Zombie Fallout Killer Battlefield Simulator 3000©. Neither can I picture that happening with any other small indie game developer.

Go to Where the People Are

Yes, this works too. Aim for big platforms. Facebook (500 million people). Twitter (190 million). iPhone (~90 million). Xbox Live (30+ million). That’s a lot of people that are easily accessible.

Go to conferences like PAX, GDC, and so on, if you can. This raises awareness.

Also, on a not-so-literal level – create the kind of game that people want to play. I imagine pretty much all those food truck guys/gals started out by making food at home, and fed it to their friends and families. When they got positive feedback, they went bigger, instead of continuing to make food for just friends/family/relatives.

You Can Be Classy in a [Independent Game Studio]

Works for me.

Use Social Media to Build Your Following

See above. There are some big numbers out there, and it makes getting lots of followers quite easy.

Prototype Then Scale

This sounds a lot more like game development than making a BBQ meat wagon, doesn’t it?

Anyway, I think that’s enough for now. So remember – next time you are eating a burrito, a burger and fries, or a smoked sausage sold from a little cart or a van, think of game development.

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