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You Don't Need A Games Consultant

With so many game consultants emerging out of the woodwork to help confused developers in a very volatile business environment, its time for a simple reminder. You don't need a games consultant. You never did, and you never will.

You really don't. They're not going to help you position your slightly wacky but gosh-darn-it-I-believe-in-it idea for the right market. They're not going to help you find the "narrative" in your product - mostly because you don't have a product most of the time. They're not going to help you connect to your "audience" or find how to "engage" anything, because it suits them to muddy what these words mean. 

You're interested in "the games space" because you have a peripheral understanding that grows all the time that games are becoming a dominant form of art, or media, or culture - or however else you parse the non-violent bits of human civilisation. Maybe you're from another media industry. Maybe you're from computer science. Maybe you're from the academy. Maybe you see yourself as someone on the edge of all these things and games are part of some yet-undefined media enterprise. It doesn't matter where you're from. You don't need a games consultant. 

I'll give you a few reasons:

1. You Shouldn't Be Involved in Games. Get Out. 

Do you care about games? Yes? Then you can stay. However, if you're thinking of developing a project out of some misguided confusion that games represent the future of media, then have a big cup of coffee and get off the blogs for a day and have a look at how people actually use media. What you probably want to make is a website with some interactive elements that could be considered playful. If you can't do that yourself, you are going to need people who are more expensive than you to make it. If you still think you really want to make a game, then I'm afraid I have bad news.

2. Games Are Hard To Make.

Harder than you think, and harder than any consultant will tell you. Much, much harder. Chances are, if you're thinking about making something, you shouldn't. This is true of any media, but especially games. Games of any quality will require a lot of your money to even plan out, let alone create. If you insist on doing it, then don't trick yourself into thinking its "just hard the first time" or that "its a new space" (it really, really, really, really isn't). You're just not very good at it. EIther pony up the cash for experienced games people to develop it, or stop. 

3. "Social" Games Are Code For "Very Awful" Games.

Consultants love to talk about "social" games. This is because they have no idea about normal games, and the more social and casual stuff is more their speed. There's also an entire blogger-consultant class devoted to analysing the quick success stories of these companies. Because games consultants rarely have any experience making games, they will happily point you in the direction of "social" games which have a much lower technical bar (actually, they don't). 

4. The Concept of a Games Consultant Has An Inherent and Palpable Tragic Element


5. Consultancy Culture Perverts Language

People who are long-term or experienced consultants were likely trained in absurd techniques such as Neuro-Linguistic Programming in order to help them carve out their language for the purpose of controlling what you think of them, and more importantly, what they do. This is a survival instinct of the consultant. But when technology is involved, the language perversion reaches new heights. Many consultants come from marketing backgrounds, and so they are doubly ill-equipped. 

Classically, the process goes like this: invent a new system of meaning around terms that seem significant. Repeat these key terms and make sure you're the one that's repeating them - as other people use them, be there to put your stamp of authenticity on it. They will tell you its because their ideas are their income. This is also a survival strategy. 


The future of film isn't film at all, but games. What film audiences look for these days is a kind of "gamesinema" where they can feel like they are in control of the narrative and that there's always a sense of satisfying action.

You'll notice that while sounding very reasonable, this sentence has no discernable content and once examined, is actually nonsense. Unsupportable statements, suppositions and under-researched bon mots are the best ways to bamboozle people into nodding sagely and paying for the privilege. 

6. There's A Huge Scam Consultancy Culture

Across many industries. A massive, massive scam culture in which an incredible amount of people believe they have the wisdom and intellect and drive to veer off and become freelancers and get paid a premium to give you a Powerpoint about what you do. This perverts the worth of things. Many of these people shouldn't veer off at all. They should merely veer away. Their coin is superstition. Your belief in their worth sustains them like oxygen. 

If you've worked an office job in the past 20 years, you've known what consultants do to business environments. Nine times out of ten, turn them into infantalising nightmares. Don't fall into the fallacy that this one, this next one, seems really great and on the ball. There is no ball for them to be on. You are inviting disaster into your home / project / concept. 

Proposition: there are a lot of games consultants. You can dispute this if you like, but comparative to the number of people making games of any kind, I would argue its massive. 

If the proposition is true, there's a few possible reasons. Maybe games are a complex art and there's lots of people required at the managerial level sometimes? Sure, that's acceptable - perhaps. Maybe there's a need for people who understand the business from an outside perspective? Hm, if you insist. Its also very possible there's fresh meat in the form of confused people looking for easy answers, and the scavengers and grifters of the world have descended upon them. 

Did your consultant work in 'web' before 'games'? Ask them what they did before that. 


Some consultants working in games might be ex-industry people. Great. Keep in mind some of them might have been awful at their jobs, which is why they are coming to you cap in hand. 

But you don't need a consultant. You need to ask yourself why you think you need one. Most the answers to that question will resolve with you realising you don't. 

You don't need a games consultant. 

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