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SoloQuester

SoloQuester

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Creating a story-based video game that shows the realities of living with autism, with the aim of reducing the stigmas and misunderstandings of what autism actually is.

The Idea

    We feel that most people don't understand what autism is outside its stereotypes. As such, we want to create a story-based video game that reduces stigma that surround autism as well as exploring different perspectives and views of autism. We do not want this to be a direct learning experience, since we think it is going to be boring. We want this to be as fun and engaging as possible. 

The Market

Jackson is a passionate gamer that has Autism. He can be most likely found on online forums as well as gaming conventions. He wants a game that has good gameplay mechanics and has good autism representation. By making an interesting story and unique gameplay mechanics with a low price and no micro-transactions, Jackson will be more inspired to open up about his autism and have confidence with himself. He can also identify with the characters in the game.

    Lisa is not a video gamer. Although she knows about autism, she knows a bit but not enough to fully empathize (just the stereotypes); she is also not very open to learning more about autism. She is likely to prefer learning through a different outlet (TV, documentaries etc).

    Nick occasionally plays competitive video games on his old computer but is generally an all rounder. He does not know what autism is and is indifferent to it. It is know that he watches youtube and twitch streamers. The game can be given to these streamers for free to hopefully advertise the game and honestly review it. This will make Nick trust that the review is correct and may start playing it if it sounds fun. This is also a good way to get feedback too. 

The Competition

A competitor for this venture would be other outlets producing media, art, and documentaries that show and illustrate the experiences of those with Autism. While more people are likely to access these outlets to learn more about autism (eg "The Good Doctor", etc), they are less likely to consider video games due to stigma. However the video game proposed here will allow the player to control a character with autism and gameplay mechanics will allow the player to feel the struggles the character faces. Furthermore, if the game is not as fun or engaging, other video games will take over in terms of popularity. The only way to rectify is to come up something new and unique for the game to attract their attention. 

    There are some that are not interested in learning about autism since it does not apply to their life nor affect their life. They may also be narrow-minded and stubborn. The value proposition would be that the game is not teaching directly about autism, but showing how one lives with autism (think Guardians of the Galaxy and dysfunctional upbringing as an analogy). In other words, autism is a major theme in the video game, but as it is a story based video game, it won't serve directly as a plot device. This will gain the interest of these people and they will want to learn more by playing more of the game. 


The Vision

    We would like to see the project grow significantly in 2 to 4 years. We want the video game we make to have an impact on many passionate video gamers as well as the various autism support groups worldwide. Additionally, we would like this game to be used as a way for teachers to teach students about what autism is. We aim to sell this game online on multiple game clients on an international level.

Mentor Pitch

Our team feels that the general public does not understand what autism is other than what has already been generalized. As such, we are looking create a video game exploring the different ideas of what autism is. One of our team members has autism and he wants to create the game based on his experiences of living with autism. We are looking for a mentor who has an understanding of what autism is and also has knowledge on video game design.

The Customer Experience

    Customers will be reached out on online forums, blogs, and social media sites. Promoting the game at video game conventions and/or during Autism Awareness Day can help spread through word of mouth and gain initial followers. Later on, social Media sites such as Facebook and YouTube, can be used to show screenshots and gameplay footage, while online forums and blogs such as Reddit and Discord can be used to share current updates on the game as well as sharing ideas with the gaming community to build on the initial following and gain more interest. These mediums all link to a personal website and blog where major updates of the game can be discussed. Additionally, collaborating with video game website and blog companies (eg. Kotaku) can produce other games. 

     A demo of the game will be available before the full release on game clients such as Steam, GOG, and Itch.io. This will be made known on the personal website as well as on Facebook and YouTube. Feedback on the game can be provided on the personal website and on video game forums such as Discord. Additionally, the game demo may have an in-game survey of rating the demo once it is finished. Once the game is released online on the game clients above, feedback from customers can be received via YouTube review videos and through comment sections on Reddit, Steam Reviews, Discord, and Steam Forums. 

The Team

    Our current team currently has experience in graphics design, coding, and game design. The team plans on contacting external independent video game website and blog companies as well as an external video game publisher to market the game. The assets we have as of now are laptops and software application licenses. Assets we need would include a music keyboard for recording music and (maybe) a camera. As of now, we are starting to make the alpha build of the game itself, as well as start a small following on a post on the video games subreddit page. Additionally, one of our members has autism and so will design the game based on his experiences on growing up with autism. 

Key Resources

    Right now, we need a music keyboard for recording music as well as someone with expertise with music editing. We may invest in a camera as well. We are looking for autism research institutes as well as autism support groups to support the game through sponsorship. As the game is promoting autism awareness, it will benefit their causes greatly and they may receive more funding/support/awareness from the public and maybe even the government. 

    Furthermore, partnering with video game journalism companies is beneficial as they can assist in promoting the game as well. As we plan for the game to be reputable and unique in its own right, they may get more recognition for promoting such a game as well. Contacting a reputable video games publisher is also more likely as a result as they would be interested in marketing a game that will earn them more revenue.

Funding Sought

    The initial costs for our venture mainly include equipment that will allow us to formulate and build the game. For that, we need two desktop computer setups, six computer monitors, and a musical keyboard for recording music.
Additionally, we may need funding to purchase software that allows us to edit music and videos as well (although we are trying to use software as well).
    The only ongoing cost would be the upkeep to publish the game on multiple game clients (Steam, GOG, Itch.io). We plan to stick to low/free cost methods when we conduct our marketing strategy. Overall, our estimate for the funding we would like to receive would be $6,000.

Our Partners

We are planning to partner with various mid-tier YouTubers/Game Streamers (Messyourself and Call me Kevin) so that they will be able to promote and review our game towards their viewers as they play the game. In exchange, they will receive a free copy of the video game as well as potentially more popularity on YouTube as their number of subscribers may increase. Additionally, we are looking to partner up with free-lancing video game journalists that work for established video game blogs such as Kotaku and Rock, Paper Shotgun, who will be able to promote our game even further in exchange for an article they can publish for a video game website as well as having an increased reputation.

    Moreover, we are planning to form a partnership with autism researchers such as Tony Attwood and Autism Support groups such as the UC Neurodiverse group with the aim of understanding more about the different aspects and perspectives of autism. In exchange, there will be an increase in autism awareness and less stigma attached to it, allowing the lives of people with autism to be easier as they will be able to fit into society. 

Our Revenue Streams

    Our main customers would be those who play video games in the age range of 15 to 55 (the average age of a video gamer is 35). We aim to provide them a very engaging video game on the PC with an interesting story of a young child with autism navigating the world. We believe they will be able to learn more about autism in a fun way; we do not intend this to be a direct learning experience. 
    Our pricing model includes a one-off transaction of the game itself, along with future downloadable content to retain our customer's interest. When interviewing potential customers, we found out that several people would like to try the game out first before buying it. A couple want to play the game for free. They also thought that an amount over $25 is too expensive with $19 being a hard choice to pay. In the end, we decided to price the game at $10.90 (our good value result is $11). We believe that customers will see $10.90 as cheaper than $11 and will be more likely to purchase the game.