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Targeting Your Audience: 3 Important Tips for Designing Games

May 21, 2013 IADT General, Game Design and Production, IADT Chicago 0 Comments

Game Production and Design Target AudienceAs video game designer and author Ernest Adams points out, the first question a publisher will ask you when you’re working on a game concept is “Who will buy this game?”1

In game design and production, you must carefully consider this question. Your audience is incredibly important. You must remember to design for your audience, not for yourself or for your personal interests. Consider the following tips, adapted from Adams’ “Fundamentals of Game Design,” to better identify and understand your audience.

Define Your Target Audience

Your target audience is a subset of the general audience of game consumers. Consider the questions like “Who will enjoy my game?”, “What other types of games do these gamers enjoy?” and “What kinds of challenges or narratives do they like?” The answers to these questions can help you identify and understand your audience.

Be careful not to think in binaries when defining your audience: Do not assume that a certain demographic of gamers will enjoy your game and therefore another demographic will not. Your ideal audience is inclusive and broad. You should design for a class of people, not a small segment.

The Player-Centric Philosophy

The player-centric philosophy of game design requires professionals to consider how design decisions affect player experiences.

Designers should envision the type of player that will be interested in the game being designed. With this player in mind, game professionals can construct a design that is both entertaining and fulfills the player’s desires. Consider how the player will react to the game’s artwork, the general structure of play and the user settings. The game must appeal to the audience, not just to the designer.

Compare Yourself to the Audience

Today’s game market is much larger and more diverse than the traditional gamer, or what Adams defines as a young male player who buys games designed by a young male designer. The gaming market consists of casual to hardcore gamers, each looking for and valuing different qualities in their games. These gamers are male and female, from a wide age range and a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds. Arguably, there is not an average player. There is no average audience.

There is also too much variety. To truly follow the player-centric philosophy, then you must consider the fact that your target audience may include players who are quite different from you. You are not – and should not be – your typical player.

Similarly, you should not imagine your target audience to be your opponents. Remember to strive to entertain your audience.

1Adams, Ernest. Fundamentals of Game Design. 2nd Ed. Pearson Education: Berkeley, 2010. Accessed on the Internet at www.books.google.com

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