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Subject: Serious or Whimsical? rss

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Scott Nelson
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I've wondered this for some time. When approaching a publisher with a game, is it easier to "sell" the idea of a whimsical theme or serious theme?

I've done both. From my perspective is appears whimsical has a better chance of captivating your audience long enough to look into it more.

I have approached a couple of my designs with a serious nature, but most of the time it comes out changing the theme to a whimsical idea to base the game around, either through changes in mechanics or a straight-switch over of names and places to something funny.

example: I had a quick idea one day after my wife brought a book and I leafed through it a few minutes to see what it was like, and a picture caught my eye.

That idea sparked an idea that turned into a Prison Breakout game, bribing the guards and all. A lot of wargamers liked the theme and game, but when I showed it to a more family-oriented publisher I tried to mellow it down and changed it straight-switch to a lifeguarding game - cigarettes for bribing went to candybars in the pool...erm I mean candy to bribe the boss blush It was a simple switch and went over well like that for that publisher; Not enough to publish it, mind you.

But after shopping it around, the lifeguard idea was out in left field for themes and was said about it many times, "I don't want to play the part of a lifeguard on duty." So, I looked harder for a theme not too rough, and not too wierd. After changing it back to the prison, and after a fellow gamer inspired a theme change, I worked on the new angle.

So, the game went back to prison break, but penguins were now doing the break out. Some major changes also filled the gaps between the three versions. So in the end, Whimsy won out.

As a member of the Board Game Designers Guild of Utah, I also had a few themes thrown at me during a playtest, including fishing and populating planets as Gods, designing the universe - very pasted on, that one.

I know Zoch games loves whimsical themes. Just look at their line of small box games: sheep, chickens, ducks, more chickens, and even more chickens. I believe publishers like GMT would not publish a whimsical themed game, not matter how good it was. Ravensburger would do both styles as would Z-Man games.

What do you think? Comments welcome. Take the poll.

Poll
Whimsicle themes or Serious themes, which do you prefer?
Whimsicle
Serious
Other
      11 answers
Poll created by ropearoni4



My only game that has been published to date, is definitely whimsical: Food Fight!
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David Gregg
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Re: Serious of Whimsicle?
Depends on the game and target audience. When I want a party game to play with my extended family, whimsical is more fun. When I'm playing with my more competitive friends, we prefer it to be more serious.
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Chris Ferejohn
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Re: Serious or Whimsicle?
At the risk of being a pedant, whimsical, not whimsicle (though that would be an awesome name for a line of novelty popsicles).

I tend towards whimsical, though I also like meatier games. Dungeon Lords is pretty much a perfect intersection as far as that is concerned.
 
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Scott Nelson
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Re: Serious or Whimsicle?
cferejohn wrote:
At the risk of being a pedant, whimsical, not whimsicle (though that would be an awesome name for a line of novelty popsicles).

I tend towards whimsical, though I also like meatier games. Dungeon Lords is pretty much a perfect intersection as far as that is concerned.


Thanks for the catch.
 
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Clive Lovett
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s3rvant wrote:
Depends on the game and target audience. When I want a party game to play with my extended family, whimsical is more fun. When I'm playing with my more competitive friends, we prefer it to be more serious.


What he said )
 
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Kevin B. Smith
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I guess I like "serious" games, if you consider Jaipur, Lord of the Rings, and Ra: The Dice Game to be "serious". I didn't care for Munchkin Quest, but Zombie in my Pocket (which I would say is whimsical) is fine. Would Mr. Jack go in the whimsical pile because the special powers of the characters are superhuman? I didn't care for it, but that had nothing to do with whether it was serious or not.

I think we need a third bucket: Serious but not dark; light-hearted but not funny.
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