Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spruiking - Flogging - Plugging

Spruiking AKA Flogging AKA Plugging is a distasteful act performed by publishers of small press games. It's distasteful because it's obviously self-interested, and the motive behind the spruik is pecuniary. When the exact same thing is done by a fan, it's much less distasteful, because though the spruik may be self-interested - after all, the more copies of Game X out there, the wider the potential player pool - it isn't pecuniary - the benefit is non-monetary.

I hate spruiking my games. Really, really hate it. On the other hand, I'm not stupid. I know this is the only way I have of putting the name out there, letting people know that the game exists, and is potentially worth looking at. Banner ads on fora are pretty much useless. Gamers have learned to ignore them, and/or they are blocked by software. Reviews are only useful if the gamer looks at the list of reviews AND the gamer knows the game exists. Spruiking is for name recognition. Letting gamers know there is a game called "X" out there is half the battle.

So I spruik. I try my best to make it the least-objectionable spruik that I can - sort of like murdering people in the most painless way, I suppose - to salve my concience. I only spruik if the original poster (OP) is looking for something like what I am spruiking. I try to recommend other games by other designers that I like that also meet the OP's criteria. I delete the spruik if the OP does not like it, or has obviously read the thread up to that point and didn't mention it. Sometimes I yank the spruik too fast - occasionally the OP or another poster actually requests that I give some links after the spruik has been yanked. If someone actually asks, I happy to talk about it.

Sometimes, if the OP is just too vague, I don't spruik. Sometimes this is intentional - the OP is asking for very general info. Other times the OP was just too confusing or incoherent, and I ask for clarification before I spruik.

Sometimes I yank a spruik because someone even HINTS that it is objectionable, even if it's just a follow on poster in the thread. I'm REALLY sensitive about it, because I feel horribly guilty whenever I do it, and it is very, very easy for me to believe I have offended someone by spruiking.

I call this "Stealth Marketing" in self mockery, and it's a major cause of my utter anonymity as a designer after almost a decade of publishing. Most other publishers have no problem spruiking away, in any thread, whether or not it's in the least germaine, but for me, each and every time I do it, no matter how warranted, I feel another bleeding slice of my soul shrivel up and die.


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