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The Pitch Document - Who, What and Why?

Another week under my belt and a little more aware of the gaming industry and its eerie similarities to the real world. I mean this in the most respectful way possible of course.

Another week under my belt and a little more aware of the gaming industry and its eerie similarities to the real world.  I mean this in the most respectful way possible of course.  I just guess that most people see the gaming world and think that it is all fun and games and that nobody really works.  The reality however, is that it is a tremendous amount of work that requires an extreme level of passion and commitment.  Lucky thing for me is that I have this passion and commitment to a self destructive fault.  Well, enough about that.  What I really wanted to talk about was last weeks discussion topics in class.  We were not only discussing pitch documents, who they are for, what they should include and the reasons why we do them, but we had to create our own.  But wait, it gets better.  We had to create a pitch document for an original game that we came up with by working with a team of individuals we have never met, talked to or even were aware of.

The week started out like any other week, full of stress, anxiety and an overwhelming amount of things to do.  See, not only am I in school full time, but I also work full time and have 5 kids (3 of which still live at home).  So, needless to say, I am busy in more ways than one.  At any rate, on to my week, and the real topic.  We immediately needed to identify our strong team players, the weak ones, who could do what and also what the expectations were.  We got this setup fairly quickly, assigned responsibilities and aligned our deliverable timeline with the fact we have six days to do this.  We quickly began shouting out game ideas and before long, we had burned 3 days, had 3 ideas, and nothing else to show for it.  At this point we needed to move forward if this was ever going to be done.  I quickly began pressuring our team to pick our idea and move forward.  We decided on a hybrid idea of the majority of our team and assigned responsibilities to each member.  From here, we had our idea, timeline and tasks, now all we needed to do was execute the plan.

Throughout the week we went back and forth with ideas and rough drafts and finally committed to a final copy of our pitch.  At that moment, I decided it was time to give the team a pat on the back, because at that very moment I realized what we had accomplished.  I reviewed our final product and felt an overwhelming sense of pride that I had been part of its creation.  Not just a simple part of it, but an integral part, seeing as how it was a team of only 6 people.  Now that the week is behind us an we are moving on to the game design document, I thought it would be a great time to reflect on what I learned about creating pitch documents, who they can be for, what we need to include in them and why we even create them.  I learned so much more beyond just the pitch document, but I figured I would stick to the document and not bore everyone with the ins and outs of teamwork, self motivation, dedication, teamwork (yeah, I said it twice) and of course creativity.

Who is the audience in a pitch document?  Pitch documents are created for many reasons, all of which are focused on gaining support for your idea.  The pitch could be as simple as trying to get the idea in front of some developers in order to get them to help you move it along, to as complex as trying to sell your idea to a publisher for funding.  In either case, this document needs to be short, sweet and to the point otherwise you will get lost in the shuffle.  Not only should it be focused, but it should also be highly creative.  You are trying to gain buy-in for your idea, at the same time, thousands of other people could be trying to sell their idea to the same people.  With that in mind, you need to stand out in the crowd and quickly, cleverly and precisely tell them why yours is the best bet.

What should this document include?  That depends based on who you are trying to impress.  If it is a couple of programmers or artists that you know, you might not need to do much more that excite them on the idea to enlist their assistance.  Your pitch might be to get them to help you develop a pitch for a publisher.  Like I said in the previous paragraph, this document is created for multiple reasons.  If you are trying to gain funding from a publisher, you might want to include some concept art, game concept ideas, characters descriptions, target market, platform, timeline and budgetary numbers.  The length of the document will always depend on the complexity of the game, but it should always be as short and pointed as possible.  Always try to convey your idea in a unique way in order to gain attention and maintain the mindshare of your audience.  Remember, you might spend a lot of time putting together the pitch, but only get 2 minutes with which you need to deliver it.

Why do we even need to do a pitch?  As if this one is not obvious enough, but I will do it anyhow.  This document is absolutely critical if you ever want to move forward with your idea leveraging a team other than you and your trusty alternate personality.  I mean, you really need to sell your idea, big or small, so that you can enlist others that have key talents to help you further your cause.  Whether the talent you seek is in an artist, or a programmer or a tester or even a financial backer, the pitch is your first step.

Again, looking back on the week, I think we made great progress and I have firmly decided that I love this industry and look forward to finding my place within it.  Thank you all for reading my ramblings.  I changed it up a bit this week and hope you all like it.  :)

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