Social Media Report
Since the beginning of the 21st century, social media has exploded and is now one of the main options for communication. Connecting the world, making conversation easier than ever before, social media has created a great deal of opportunity for the average business or developer. From a companies point of view, using social media not only gives a brand an identity, but it also gives you an idea of who your competition may be. This is a huge advantage from a professional standpoint and will inevitably help you increase your own work and the quality of the product that is being sold. As a game developer, using social media is almost compulsory as it is one of the best methods for raising peoples awareness of you and your work.
In this blog I will be researching five different social medias to determine which one will be most effective for promoting a new game as an Indie Game Developer. I will do this by investigating each platform analysing their specialities and how they can be used to my advantage. I plan on researching Twitter, Youtube, Kickstarter, Facebook, and WordPress. Although they are all social media platforms, they have very different uses and capabilities which is why it is important to know how they should be used and what is most effective for sharing content whilst still promoting your work.
Amongst Facebook, Twitter is one of the biggest platforms in today’s group of social medias. Breaching over 1.3 billion accounts worldwide (44 astonishing Twitter stats and facts for 2016, 2016) it has a huge amount of users meaning that their is plenty of opportunity for marketing your product and networking to meet new people. 65.8% of companies in the US with 100+ employees use Twitter to market their product (44 astonishing Twitter stats and facts for 2016, 2016) which shows that it is a good recourse as there would have been a significant amount of time, money and effort researching to ensure that it would be a feasible platform to promote their product on. After researching what Twitter had actually accomplished, one of the main statistics that stood out to me was that it took 3 years, 2 months and 1 day to go from the first tweet to the billionth (44 astonishing Twitter stats and facts for 2016, 2016). This shows how quickly the platform has progressed and the power of social media, particularly the format that Twitter uses.
Similar to most social media platforms, one of the main advantages for using Twitter as a business or freelancer is that it is a great way to communicate with people raising awareness of your product or the work you do. It is a great way to keep people up to date with what you are doing which is important if frequent updates are needed. Another good reason to use Twitter is that it is brilliant for interacting with people who may be interested in your work. Raising awareness of your brand is one of the main results of having an active Twitter account, therefore it is much easier to gain new leads for potential clients which can be crucial when starting a business or a freelance career.
One of the benefits of having a Twitter account is that the more active you are, the more attention your account gains. However it is still important to ensure that the content that you post accurately represents you and your brand in the way that you want it too, otherwise followers (potential clients or leads) may not invest in your work or time as they have been mislead by unsuitable content. Showing your brands personality can be a great way to show your audience more into what you are doing and the intention you are trying to give. For example a game developer could choose to post about their projects to make people aware of the production and then people would be well informed for when the finished product is released. Keeping people up to date with what is happening is a great way to get people interested in what is being done as the audience will feel as if they are more invested in the final product. Another one of the huge benefits of using Twitter is that it is an extremely vocal platform, therefore it is very easy to get feedback which is very important when developing a game.
Despite having over a billion accounts, Twitter is known to be one the most easily hackable social medias. Even though the company has claimed that they are working on the issue and that they are going to enforce a better security system, there is still a huge risk that you have to take when having an account. If your account was hacked, it is possible that the person who has been granted permission could ruin your brand and identity as it is often very difficult to recover from having a hacked account. Furthermore if Twitter is being used by an employee it is crucial that the person can be trusted as that account will represent your entire company, therefore it could be very damaging if misused. Also another disadvantage to using Twitter is that there is a limit of using only 140 characters in a tweet. This can be very restricting when there is a lot of information being given, especially when you are trying to sell a product.
In some cases, having only 140 characters in a tweet can be limiting, however it can also be used to your advantage. Not only does it force you to be short about what you are saying and get to the point, but it also allows your audience to stay interested in what is being said. If the limit was higher, or not there at all the news feed (list of tweets) could be very long and it would be extremely difficult to stay engaged that anyone has to say.
At the top of hierarchy, Facebook is the largest social media platform. As of July 2016, the service had a huge sum of 1.71 billion users meaning that 38.6% of the worlds population has an account which is more than any other social media. Of the people that use Facebook, 47% of users access their account via the mobile app which is why it is crucial that your marketing strategy works both on a desktop browser and mobile device as the outcome would be significantly different. Since Facebook has so many users, its demograph is extremely wide. After researching I found that 72% of US adults use Facebook at least once a month and that 83% of parents have their children as a friend. This shows that there is a huge range in age of users on the website. As their is such a big range in age and interest it is important to know how to reach your target audience as a Indie Game Developer.
One of the advantages to using Facebook to advertise a brand (in this case a game), is that it has been developed its service to allow you to accurately reach your target audience. When you pay for an advertisement or promotion, Facebook gives you options to target people of certain ages, interests, characteristics, location, and more meaning that it is a very effective way of finding new people to promote your product to. Another advantage to using Facebook is that it is extremely cheap to start advertising. Since you can run an advert for as little as $1 a day, Facebook can be very effective if the production budget is low which is often the case for a Indie Game Developer.
Having extremely cheap ads on a website as busy and over-saturated as Facebook can also be a huge disadvantage if you don’t have a thought out plan as to how you are going to gain someones attention. Since your advert will be shown alongside several other promotions, potentially for the same product, standing out can be very difficult. This is why it is important to ensure that your advert is of a high quality and that it catches the attention of your target audience.
As Facebook has such a huge demographic, I think that it could be effective if a game was being promoted to the correct audience with a high quality, professional, ad campaign. However, without experience and a significant amount of time being spent on it, I think that it might not work as well as other platforms as less people will come across the product. As well as this, Facebook has a very low click conversion rate as there are thousands of irrelevant ads that make people take less interest in what is being shown.
Using YouTube to promote a game can be extremely beneficial. Not only is there an opportunity to show your work to a whole new audience of potential clients and customers but it can also be a great way to get feedback and improve the game. Even though viewers can only watch gameplay, YouTube’s comment section is prominent throughout the entire site which has resulted in a very vocal platform. This allows developers to get opinions and first impressions from people who are new to the game which is a very good way to improve the work being done. Another advantage to using YouTube is that if you title your videos to a good standard or even paying to promote them, your content will be seen by a huge amount of people. This is because YouTube is owned by Google and happen to work together alongside one another. Therefore a YouTube video that has a good search engine optimisation will also be seen on Google which is ideal when promoting a game.
YouTube can be a very effective platform for promoting content or a product. However sometimes it is not the most professional way to do it. This is because the service is open to everyone, therefore can be seen as the easiest route to promote which can be seen negatively. YouTube was originally supposed to be used to share videos for friends and family, however it has since become much more popular than predicted. This leaves businesses trying to sell their products at an unfair disadvantage. However in this scenario, the problem may not be so detrimental since there is a huge gaming community. Although this could still lead to problems similar to Facebook in that it could be difficult to find people who are interested in the game being made.
As YouTube has such a large gaming community, I think that it would be ideal for a Indie Game Developer and perfect for promoting a new game. This is because out of all the social media platforms, YouTube would be the easiest way to show a game as it is video based as well as easily found by its target audience.
Kickstarter is a website that allows creators to pledge for crowd funding to help pay for a product or service. As a Indie Game Developer it is certainly a good option as it allows you to find potential investors to not only help and improve your work but they will also fund it which can be crucial for future success. As of 2014, 44% of all creators had there projects fully funded which is almost half of all users. This means that almost everyone that uses the site is guaranteed to get their project invested in if not seen. As well as this Kickstarter is a free to use service so the process is very easy to carry out if you are on a low budget. Only projects that are fully funded are charged a 5% of the final sum of money given.
One of the biggest benefits of using Kickstarter to find funds for your work is that when someone invests in what you are trying to make, you keep full ownership of what is being done. Therefore it makes the process a lot easier to go through with as you have full control of how the project progresses. Another big benefit of using Kickstarter is that all projects are held for review before being made public on the site. This means that people will pay much more attention into your project. Therefore using Kickstarter will give you an audience that will be looking closely into each project and will have a better idea of how to take a game and find success.
As a Game Developer, using Kickstarter can be a great way to find investors for your project. However in terms of promoting your work it is not the best way of going about it. Although some Kickstarter projects pick up attention from the press for how unique they are, I think that it would be very difficult to do something similar with a game. Since there are other platforms that could easily promote the game in a better way I don’t think that it would be worth the risk.
Different from all of the above, WordPress is a service that allows you to create blog pages and search through other pages that are chosen to suit your interests, based on your history. Each month over 49 million pages are created for people of all interests. Since its start in 2006, the service has had an increase in views each month and now makes over 23 billion views on a monthly basis. Again, since blogs have such a large demographic and can be made by and for everyone with an internet connection the site is able to turn over a huge amount of views, potentially promoting a game or developing process.
A big advantage of WordPress (similar to YouTube) is that it is easy to operate. Despite hosting websites that are often very difficult to manage without basic coding knowledge, WordPress is as easy or as complex as it you want it to be. Even if you have html/css knowledge you can still incorporate what you know into the site. As well as this, WordPress is a website that works well with Google’s search engine meaning that posts that are titled well are more likely to be seen on Google as well as on the WordPress discover tab.
Despite it having a clean well thought layout, WordPress updates its software very frequently which could potentially waste time which is very detrimental when developing a game. Also some sites use plugins which could malfunction with newer software’s which would in turn brake the sight which would also be a huge problem in this kind of scenario. Not only would it stop any traffic (viewers) from seeing your product, but it could also give a bad representation of your brand and the work you have done.
After researching the five different social media platforms, I think that either Twitter or YouTube would be the best option to promote a game. Twitter would be a good method as it allows you to show promote the game to your target audience which is ideal. Although this can be done with many other social medias, Twitter would be most effective as there is a limit on how many characters can be used in a tweet, therefore each tweet would more likely to be read. As well as this it is a great way to meet new clients, customers and investors since it has such a wide demographic. Similarly, YouTube is a great way to promote a game as it is the perfect way to show someone what the game is. Even better, YouTube has a huge gaming community therefore a promotion for a game is perfect for that kind of audience.
Pixel art is an image that is digitally produced on a small canvas and then expanded to the needed size. The reason why it is produced on a smaller canvas is so that the image is formed of less pixels, therefore each individual pixel is much easier to see. This then creates a very block like effect which is what was needed when games started being produced. Pixel art was a huge part of how games were able to run so easily when technology was not as advanced. This is because pixel art would have been much easier to animate in a game rather than hundreds of different keyframes that were much more hardware demanding.
Before the 21st century, technology was not advanced enough to have a huge amount of data, therefore things like colour range and the resolution of an image had to be compromised. For pixel art, the most commonly used colour range was 8 bit. This is because it was easier to run and still gave a high enough quality of colour for a game. The ‘8’ represents how the exponent for how many colours are available. A bit is equal to 2, so to work out the exactly how many colours are available you would need to calculate 8 to the power of 2, which is 256. This is how many colours are available with an 8 bit colour range. In terms of resolution, pixel art can be made on a canvas of any size starting at 16×16 pixels. However, the larger the canvas the smoother the image is going to be which will take away the effect that a smaller canvas would give, although with a larger canvas you would have more space so would be able to incorporate more detail.
Pixel Art Task
For this task we were told to create a pixel art image of a character. To start I created a new project. As we were going to be working on a much smaller level I needed to change some of the settings to suit the style of image that was being made. Firstly I changed the canvas dimensions to 16×16 as this would give the block like feel that is needed for pixel art. Then I changed the resolution to 72 pixels/inch which was also needed for the pixel art effect. The last setting that I changed was the colour mode. I checked that it was set to rgb colour and a 8 bit colour as these would allow me to use colours that would be on a digital screen.
Next I setup a workspace by clicking on the tab at the top right corner of the screen and checking the essentials preset. This would show all of the tools that would be needed for the design. I then added the navigator tab as this would give me a smaller view of the image which would be needed as the character would be seen smaller than what is shown in the normal setup in Photoshop. I also added a grid by going to view>show>grid which would allow me to see where each individual pixel was. I then had a snapping problem so I turned off the snapping option so that the pixel was not limited to snap to the wrong position.
After working on the first image I realised the importance of making sure that the character has a well thought out posture as this will dictate how detailed the final image will be. As well as this, the idea of the task was to replicate the characters as if they were in a side scroller game . This means that it is important that the characters are made from the side and that there was enough detail for them to still be recognisable.
Historical Character Task
For our scenario we were given a charterer and a location that could be used for the plot of the game. The character we were given was Ada Lovelace, a significant individual who worked on the analytical machine. After doing some research I quickly found that it was going to be a challenge to recreate her aesthetic since there were very few portraits of her. The location we were given was ancient Egypt. These are very different concepts so I think that it is a very good opportunity to create a comprehensive plot.
“Late one night, Ada Lovelace was working on the Analytical Machine at the RAS (Royal Astronomical Society). She travelled to Egypt in search for antediluvian equation that may be the key to her work. After traversing the boggy Black Land, she reaches the sandy Red Land to explore the pyramid for her research. But in her hast, she unlocks an ancient evil forcing her to use her brains to stop the past consuming the present by collecting mystical stones to seal the dead back in their tombs.”
After taking part in this task, it is evident that the ability to take a concept and build on it using research is important as it helps support choices made in the development process, such as art style and mechanics that could be used to signify certain parts of the story. It can also be used to find a relevant genre for the game as certain genres may not be preferred. I can also use this in my work in future when working from a brief as to help develop ideas for the design studio further.
Game Studio Logo Homework
Here I created a concept logo for our game studio. I wanted to symbolize depth whilst still having a clean layout. Therefore I chose to use a font with two different sized strokes. I felt that this also gave emphasis to the word ‘Dimensional’ which was one of the main intentions with the logo. I then illustrated a paintbrush to show that we design games which was another one of my intentions when designing the logo and banner layout.
For the first week of the term we were given three different tasks. The first was a social media report. We needed to research at least five different social media platforms that we could use to promote a game as if we were working in an indie game studio. I chose to research Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Kickstarter and WordPress. The second task was based on pixel art. For this we were asked to recreate an image of Harry Potter in a pixel art format. I found this fairly difficult as I had not worked with pixel art before so it was interesting to see my work improve over the week. The homework task was to create a name and logo for a design studio that we were to form as a group. This gave me a good insight as to what the process is like during the production of a design studio. The research I did on social media was also very interesting and will definitely be used in the future for other tasks and projects.
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