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Subject: Theme and Target Audience rss

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Willem-Jan Rensink
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Greetings, ladies and gentlemen

I have a question about my theme, and especially the restrictions the this theme gives in terms of my target audience. It is a controversial topic that might make some people turn down the game.

The game is about genetic manipulation. Your are a scientist, who wants to build his own animals for his own benefits. As the theme is right now, you buy animals and combine them to make new animals with special abilities, increasing your production and points.

However, I'd like my target audience to be light gamers (audience for Agricola), but I don't know how much of a problem the theme could be. When you think about it, the theme is quite gruesome (killing two animals to make a mutant creature), and might cause a lot of people to turn down the game.

The questions I have are:

Is this really an issue?
Can you think of an easy solution?
Do you know more games with this kind of theme?

All feedback would be appreciated
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Derry Salewski
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Le Havre is a little heavier, but aren't it's buildings like slaighterhouse and tannery and stuff . . . that's just as gross if you think about it.

Agricola is a little more light hearted I guess, but killing animals and cooking them is still just as gross.

I think you'd have to not have it be explicit. Like . . . if you draw pictures of bloody cow heads stitched onto a three legged rooster body or something . . . people might be weirded out.

But if it was more mad scientist, and you just had elements that you acquired and combined (that happen to be animals . . . ) then it could be a fun theme.
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Sam Mercer
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Hi Willem-Jan,

First of all, I've not seen you post here before - so hello! You're game sounds really cool.

I may be alone in this: but I wouldn't say Agricola is a light game (compared to other games around). Which is both good and bad. If you are aiming to cater for this audience, I would be inclined to say that hobby (more serious) gamers care much more about the game itself rather than the nuances of theme.

The main audience that would take issue at the theme would, in my opinion, be lighter or perhaps gateway gamers, which (if you are headed for agricola players), you shouldn't have a problem with.

Whatever the case, I would agree with our friend Duncan (he is super pro btw) in that you should aim for the theme to be more global-friendly than "horror". Perhaps using DNA or some kind of mysterious "combination chmaber" in which two animals go in, only one comes out, but it all takes place behind a latched door. No need to show severed heads and killing and blood and all that (unless you want to).

As an aside: I think the theme is wonderful, I would be very happy to play a game like that, sounds fun


Hope i've helped

sam
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Willem-Jan Rensink
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Thanks for the quick responses!

scifiantihero wrote:
Le Havre is a little heavier, but aren't it's buildings like slaighterhouse and tannery and stuff . . . that's just as gross if you think about it.

Agricola is a little more light hearted I guess, but killing animals and cooking them is still just as gross.

I think you'd have to not have it be explicit. Like . . . if you draw pictures of bloody cow heads stitched onto a three legged rooster body or something . . . people might be weirded out.

But if it was more mad scientist, and you just had elements that you acquired and combined (that happen to be animals . . . ) then it could be a fun theme.


You make a fair point about the slaughtering and cooking of animals, although that's more accepted by society than genetic engeneering is. About the pictures, the idea was that two cards combined would be the art of the new creature, thereby give possible weird pictures...

qiagen wrote:
Why would you have to kill the animals?

In your in-game fluff, just mention that your characters need to buy the animals to take DNA samples, which can then be used to produce their chimeras.


This is a solution to the 'theming' of combining animals, but the animals will still have to be paid as a cost, so it might still be seen as killing them.

Cogentesque wrote:
Hi Willem-Jan,

First of all, I've not seen you post here before - so hello! You're game sounds really cool.

I may be alone in this: but I wouldn't say Agricola is a light game (compared to other games around). Which is both good and bad. If you are aiming to cater for this audience, I would be inclined to say that hobby (more serious) gamers care much more about the game itself rather than the nuances of theme.

The main audience that would take issue at the theme would, in my opinion, be lighter or perhaps gateway gamers, which (if you are headed for agricola players), you shouldn't have a problem with.

Whatever the case, I would agree with our friend Duncan (he is super pro btw) in that you should aim for the theme to be more global-friendly than "horror". Perhaps using DNA or some kind of mysterious "combination chmaber" in which two animals go in, only one comes out, but it all takes place behind a latched door. No need to show severed heads and killing and blood and all that (unless you want to).

As an aside: I think the theme is wonderful, I would be very happy to play a game like that, sounds fun


Hope i've helped

sam


Thanks for the welcome!

Agricola certainly isn't light, but it certainly isn't very heavy. I called it 'light' in lack of better terms. Anyway, the target audience is the same as Agricola's
 
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Greg
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You might have some success distancing your theme using setting? If it's about modern day realy world scientists it might be too close to the bone for people who are bothered by current research, but if you make it a sci-fi game set on a space ship you might get enough distance from contemporary issues for it not to matter.
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Willem-Jan Rensink
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x_equals_speed wrote:
You might have some success distancing your theme using setting? If it's about modern day realy world scientists it might be too close to the bone for people who are bothered by current research, but if you make it a sci-fi game set on a space ship you might get enough distance from contemporary issues for it not to matter.


That is a very interesting idea. When committing to sci-fi, I could even make the manipulation on aliens, rather than earth-like animals. The setting could be done in the medieval age too! (enough crazy wizards there)

Thank you very much
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James Deignan
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Zwavor wrote:
Greetings, ladies and gentlemen

I have a question about my theme, and especially the restrictions the this theme gives in terms of my target audience. It is a controversial topic that might make some people turn down the game.

The game is about genetic manipulation. Your are a scientist, who wants to build his own animals for his own benefits. As the theme is right now, you buy animals and combine them to make new animals with special abilities, increasing your production and points.

However, I'd like my target audience to be light gamers (audience for Agricola), but I don't know how much of a problem the theme could be. When you think about it, the theme is quite gruesome (killing two animals to make a mutant creature), and might cause a lot of people to turn down the game.

The questions I have are:

Is this really an issue?
Can you think of an easy solution?
Do you know more games with this kind of theme?

All feedback would be appreciated


Going to give you an example to look at of a game that has a theme that can possibly be a big turn off: The Manhattan Project.

In the Manhattan Project, you're building nuclear weapons. That's the entire theme of the game. You build bombs. Now, there aren't a whole lot of pro-nuke people out there, so you'd think that this would be a gigantic turn off in terms of theme. However, look carefully at how the game approaches the theme. The graphic designers use cartoon-like comedy to lighten the mood. You're building bombs, yah, but you're building bombs with cute little scientists in white lab coats with these gigantic oversized shades on! It's as if every art decision was made to minimize the potential turn off, resulting in a game that, in spite of the warmongering goal of the task, comes off as humorous and fun. It's like the difference between watching Dr. Strangelove as opposed to something like Fail Safe. (Google those movies if you've never heard of them. They're old. They're also worth watching!)

Anyway, my point is, while the genetic manipulation could potentially turn off players, if you present it with a cute and possibly amusing graphic design (say...cards that are specifically designed to be overlaid with one another, resulting in a camel's head spitting into a spittoon with a monkey's frolicking hindquarters), you could mitigate any genetic manipulation issues. Would some people still dislike it? Sure. But there are people out there who can find fault with anything. What you're trying to do is avoid being deliberately offensive. A "cute" or humorous approach to a serious theme can defuse a good measure of angst.

EDIT: Typo
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Brook Gentlestream
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I personally see no problems with the theme.
 
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Willem-Jan Rensink
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Thank you all for the feedback! I'll keep the theming for what it is, and see how many people comment on it during explaining the game (or playtesting). Cartoonifying the art is a solution that certainly will be 'balanced'.

qiagen wrote:
Zwavor wrote:

qiagen wrote:
Why would you have to kill the animals?

In your in-game fluff, just mention that your characters need to buy the animals to take DNA samples, which can then be used to produce their chimeras.


This is a solution to the 'theming' of combining animals, but the animals will still have to be paid as a cost, so it might still be seen as killing them.


In which case, could you change purchasing 'animal cards' to purchasing 'animal DNA cards'? So I could purchase orang-utan DNA and gecko DNA, and splice them together to generate my transgenic organism. Later in the game I might purchase orang-utan DNA again, to generate something new, and so on.


Although DNA is a solution, I liked the idea of breeding your animals (or the mutated animals laying eggs and making more animals). If breeding is ever discarded however, I'll consider using DNA.
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Brandon :)
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When I read your post, the first thing that popped into my mind was Evo. Sadly, the theme of Evo is probably more controversial since there are apparently people that deny evolution to the point where they build museum exhibits of people riding dinosaurs.

You should be fine
 
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John "Omega" Williams
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Monster Rancher, and various other computer and console games use the theme of breeding and combining creatures quite frequently. Quirks and Insecta come to mind as two that play with this theme too.
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