When we were about to finish our game project “The Spookening” I got into contact with a PR consultant named Gunnar, to prepare for the launch and maximise its much needed exposure. He quickly explained to me how it works in the PR world, which I had no prior experience from. Then he asked me: What’s your story? What do you want to tell people? The reason why this is important to know was covered in his initial explanation.
It’s rather simple really: Journalists want to tell stories, interesting stories and preferably new stories that haven’t been told before. The better story you have the more journalists want to write about it and they’ll write more about it too. This obviously means that you’ll be featured in more magazines and on more related sites reaching your goal of that exposure you were initially seeking to sell your product, or yourself.
I didn’t have a good answer to his question though. What story could we possibly have that would interest people? I thought this was going to be about the game and not so much about us and the studio. My belief was that if we had a strong and original game, that would be the thing to talk about.
I told him my personal background story which caught his interest but wasn’t really applicable to our game or our studio. So, we went with my initial assumption, which was to talk about the game itself. Luckily this worked since it has a unique twist.
We managed to get quite decent exposure and got covered in about 20 reviews, which is not bad at all for a mobile game.
Using your past
A year or so later from our first meeting I started to talk about an old abandoned Amiga game project called 1993 Space Machine, which tied back to my background story. This time I told the story in more detail and Gunnar saw much potential in this. The story alone could rise this game from the dead.
He started to reach out to the press and they showed interest at once. Interview calls were being set up on a regular basis. I was stunned.
The Story in short
In short, we were four guys in our late teens that started out making our own game on the Amiga 500 in 1992. We sat in my bedroom in Alingsås, Sweden with no experience of anything more than finishing a butter knife in the artisan class at school. But we were hungry, naive and we wanted to be a part of the gaming world. Eventually we even found a publisher who believed in us and our game. We got featured in major gaming magazines of the time and things felt awesome!
Despite this we we split up after about a year or so, not finishing the game, because one of the coders were in love with the other coder who then left for Seattle. Never to come back.
Some 20 years later I played “Jamestown” and thought that it was quite similar to our old game. Luckily I had saved everything from that time so I dug it out from old cardboard boxes in the basement and hit the On-switch.
Everything still worked. I then decided to see if there was any potential for this old dream to leave its hibernation.
To me this story was nothing special. It happened a long time ago too. But it proved to be very powerful.
People care about people
Generally people want to se the struggle, agony and hardship. Because if you endure, it means that you really believe in the project yourself. It’s a proof of passion, and that’s powerful.
This is why I think so many wanted to share this story. It contains love, hopes, dreams, failure - in short: drama.
I had no idea that this story I was sitting on could have this effect. Suddenly people started to show quite an interest in this old game project and this was paramount to bringing it back to life. Without this exposure I wouldn’t have found the talented team members to invest their own time in this.
Now we have a go for releasing it on all the major gaming platforms. A bit over a year ago this game was dead and buried in a box.
People reaching out
In contrast to The Spookening we have now been approached directly a number of times by journalists and fairs who ask me to tell our story and participate with 1993 Space Machine. This was without having a finished game or even an available demo. That’s a clear indicator that the story has reached out to the audience we’re hoping for.
Even though The Spookening is a good and unique game, it was way more effort to get the word out since we had no real background story to tell and the impact was less noticeable. So this story has served us well. Much to my surprise.
Oftentimes you get home blind to what you have. This is a problem I struggle with a lot. Are people really interested in what I have to say? Isn’t my knowledge commonplace? Can I really teach and inspire others? In the last year I have come to realise that the short answer to this is actually - Yes.
So start digging! What do you have to tell the world? Maybe your story can take you, your team or products to new exciting chapters.