I’ve been writing about gaming and technology since 1995, the year the dot-com boom started. Back then, less than 1% of the global population was connected to the web – today that figure is around 40%. There are 6.5 billion mobile connections globally – almost one for every person on the planet.
Today’s gamers live in a hyper-connected online world where community and the ability to play together, and against each other, are often at the heart of enduring success for a game. The human desire to connect, be social, be part of the creation process, to interact and not be restricted by narrative or geography, manifests today in the phenomenon of live streaming on platforms like Twitch.
I am one of over 13k streamers who earn a living playing games for others to watch. Last year Twitch had half a million average concurrent viewers devouring 459,366 years’ worth of video, with viewers on average watching over 7 hours of content per month. Those kind of sticky numbers are metrics traditional broadcast and entertainment producers can only dream of. And they are liquid, trackable gold to the advertising industry.
More and more indie game studios are approaching influencers on these platforms to tap into their audience for up and coming games, getting their support for crowd funding campaigns by providing early release download codes to whip the audiences up into a storm that often raises hundreds of thousands of dollars.
If you’re in the process of developing a game or looking for funding and support, you’d be a fool to overlook these avenues. But it’s not just shouting about your vision and hoping people will hear. ‘If you build it they will come,’ does not always work. Building a strong online community is a real art form that begins by understanding your audience and finding ways to relate to them.
You’re going to need to be friendly, interesting, honest and transparent. You’re going to have to involve your fans in conversations about the development process and as a result will likely be put under constant pressure to get it right. And you’re going to have to learn to take criticism on the chin.
But get it right and you stand to gain a rock solid army of supporters, promoters and friends behind you, who are personally invested in seeing you succeed; emotionally as well as financially.
And that is a pretty good engine to build the success story of your future on.
I’m going to be talking more about this in my upcoming Develop keynote in Brighton on 14th July. During the session I’ll be revealing some of the tricks I’ve learned along the way - having successfully ran my own crowd funding campaign and being a partnered Twitch Streamer for almost a year. I’ll also be suggesting a few ways you can structure your own community activities to increase engagement and motivate your fans to campaign on your behalf.
If you have a game to promote or get funding for, I hope to see you there.
Journalist, reporter and author, Kate has been writing about technology and the Internet since 1995. Appearing regularly on BBC technology programme Click she is also a partnered Twitch streamer and speaks at conferences and lectures in schools and universities inspiring the next generation of technologists. Her website, KateRussell.co.uk , won the 2015 UK Blog Awards for best individual digital and technology blog, and in June 2016 she was voted the Computer Weekly 13th most influential woman in UK IT. Her debut novel was published in 2014 under official licence to space trading game, Elite: Dangerous, the childhood passion that inspired her love of technology. As part of the licensing deal she got to name a planet in the latest release, Elite: Dangerous. She called it Slough.
Develop:Brighton’s a great conference. It’s got a spread of people from all parts of the games industry talking about such a wide range of topics.
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Ian Livingstone, CBE
There really is a huge mix of people at Develop - loads of peers that you can learn from and the perfect blend of every element of game development as well.
Develop is a very important place – it’s one of the few developer focussed conferences we have in Europe and that makes it very valuable.
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A lot of the opportunities that come from being here are speaking to other developers who are doing exactly the same thing as you. And there are some good parties – it’s very much a pleasurable work experience!
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