Monday, May 17, 2010

The importance of theme, or how to choose an audience

Following up on yet another topic from my Paper Money discussion, it's interesting that the uber-gamers I've played with have usually been more excited about my game Cult than with what I think is my more mainstream game, Diggity. Whenever I bring both to my weekly Guilford game-playing group, among people who've tried neither, Cult usually gets people the most excited. That's always been interesting to me - I think of Diggity as an easier-to-learn, quicker-to-play, far-less-luck-intensive game, but among the gamer set, Cult is more appealing, at least for a first try.  I guess the premise of running your own cult and stealing followers from others is maybe a more gamer-y thing.  I've certainly built more humor into the cards, with silly stuff you can base your cult around, and cards that are called funny things and have quirky powers.

I enjoy both games a lot.  I think Diggity is the "better" one - more replay value, more strategic depth, less luck.  But the theme seems to be less of a draw to people who are dedicated gamers.  So, I'm left with several questions:

  • Would the theme of Cult also be more appealing to a non-gamer audience? I'm not sure. People are sometimes squishy about religious topics. The mechanics, with lots of cards with lots of words and a more complex system of turns, are harder to learn.
  • Would Diggity be more appealing if I re-themed it to something quirkier, or more geek-friendly? Maybe, but I don't think so. The mining theme actually fits the mechanics pretty well, which is why I picked it; I suppose I could come up with something else that tried to connect the card-linking and part-building aspects, but I don't know what that would be.
  • Which is the better one to market? This is a real toughie. If Diggity appeals more to non-gamers, then that's a bigger potential audience. But if Cult appeals more to gamers, I need to keep in mind they're proven game buyers. Then it becomes a numbers game - a bigger audience, or a more responsive one - and I don't really know enough to answer that. Maybe if I get to the point where I have both games in release, I'll be able to; at this point, I can't.
So, I'm betting on Diggity for now.  Part of that is that it's cheaper and easier to produce - fewer cards, shorter rules, and no tokens required. I'd love to see Cult with better art in general release, too. We'll see how I do.

No comments:

Post a Comment