Developer Diary #11 — Local Business

Two weeks ago I was driving down the main strip of my small Midwestern town when I saw a small frozen yogurt shop my wife and I love. The place really is an experience. It’s bright, colorful, stuffed with flavors and toppings that change all the time. Branding every counter and crowning the top of the shop is a beautiful little berry made using vector art. I began to wonder if I could make a game designed around the store and before long had gotten in contact with the owner to discuss making a promotional game.

The business interaction has been a really great experience. Since this is my first time approaching another business, I’ve learned quite a few lessons. The greatest is that I have something valuable to offer people outside of the gaming industry. I have also learned that this is something anyone working in a medium like HTML5 can do. You don’t need to know anybody important to get this kind of work. You don’t need to wait for an opening. No one is going to offer this to you. Rather, if you have an email address, a telephone, or a mouth, you can find a local business and work with them.

Since the project is not yet public, I can’t share my actual work yet. However, I can share some things I am learning. Perhaps you will find them useful.

  • Great businesses fail all the time because people aren’t aware of them. People are far more likely to buy from businesses they are familiar with than business they don’t know that well. Both traditional ads and branded media (games/movies, etc.) create awareness, but branded media lasts a LOT longer than traditional ads. Hence, more awareness.
  • Figure out what makes the business special and convey it in your pitch. If you could use one word to describe who they are, what would it be? How can you make a game all about that?
  • When working with a client to promote a brand/store/etc., don’t try to reinvent the wheel–or at least think long and hard before you risk your client’s name on an experimental wheel. That said: design safe, but don’t create trash.
  • We all know crappy promotional games. They are the reason “promotional” rings sour in our ears. Don’t make one.
  • Remember, all sizes of businesses can benefit from promotional games. Huge businesses like the NFL and the BBC are easy to think of, but hard to work for. Why not take a look around your own town for small franchises or local iconic spots? You might find money just lying around, waiting for you to come work for it.


I’ll be writing in more depth about my current adventures soon. Much to come!