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I believe that my current game project is very well-suited for educational gaming; so well-suited, in fact, that I know of several different schools (one community college and at least one or two high schools) that have used versions of it at some time or another. And that's without any such marketing on my part.

I'd like to expand on this part of the potential user base. But I have absolutely no experience in dealing with school administrations. How can I break into this market enough to be noticed?

And on a side note, could marketing the game as educational kill the gamers market?

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One user of an older version (though not as a teacher) was in a recent Forbes magazine piece: forbes.com/2010/07/19/… –  mmyers Jul 21 '10 at 4:09
    
Take a look at a SlashDot article from today on Learning By Playing that might have some good links for you: news.slashdot.org/story/10/09/18/1353218/Learning-By-Playing –  Larry Smithmier Sep 18 '10 at 20:05

6 Answers 6

Although dated (2006), this looks to be a good read: http://genyes.com/programs/supplemental/edgames

Schools are cheap: They're on a budget. Why would they want your game X when they could find something similar for free on the internet?

And if you are looking into getting your game into non-school markets, take note how few console games have educational games. You are more likely to see them in handheld or mobile devices. You might want to consider the iPhone or Android markets.

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"schools are cheap" - that's why they purchase Windows licenses (chuckle) –  Dave O. Jul 20 '10 at 14:09
    
They're assuming somewhat bigger-budget game, it seems: At normal videogame pricing, sales of 500,000 units is required to breakeven. -- That sentence just made me laugh. And drool. –  mmyers Jul 20 '10 at 15:09
    
Schools are cheap also means that they don't have a large IT personnel budget, meaning the IT people that have don't want to be constantly supporting something, meaning a $1000 solution that doesn't require any support has a way better chance of being installed than a free solution that requires support. –  BarrettJ Jul 21 '10 at 19:21
    
Also (this is coming from when I worked IT for a school district), a LARGE portion of software is bought with grant money. Meaning if they find software they want, they apply for grants until they can get it. Or they've found a grant for some particular purpose and they have money left over and the software could be purchased with that (and the software supports the overall goal of the grant). –  BarrettJ Jul 21 '10 at 19:35
    
I'm late to the party but don't forget paying the technicians to work > paying for the license. –  Noctrine Dec 17 '10 at 19:57

It would be an advantage if you could get with the schools that you know who use your product and get them to write a recommendation about it. Use that when you are out pitching to other schools. If you can find hard numbers / results that would be extremely helpful.

You need to turn yourself into a door-to-door salesman. It'll be a lot of foot work and a lot of convincing revolving around why they should use your product. Call schools and ask if you can get a moment of the deans, assistant dean, principle, etc time to talk about a very useful product you feel would be a very important learning tool. If you can't get them, then someone else that represents the school.

A plus on the university front is that you can approach the separate colleges within the university and pitch to their staff, which is probably what you want to do for a game project. You figure you can approach one University and have 6 or so meetings/potential clients. Not bad.

I've been on this road before but my buddy was selling an application vs. a game product. Games will be a tough sell unless you can really show what it can do. I might market it under a different buzzword instead of purely 'Game.' Simulation? Serious Game Project?

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I'd go with "Interactive Education" for Faculty. –  Noctrine Jul 20 '10 at 18:10
    
@noctrine: Good one! –  David McGraw Jul 20 '10 at 18:37
    
I think I could round up several testimonials if I needed to (see my comment on the question for one of them). I suppose my own doesn't count, but I could ask them to quiz me on (say) Polish history. –  mmyers Jul 21 '10 at 16:26

How about attending a conference like this one from the American Association of School Administrators in February? As David mentioned, get references if possible and then set up a booth and sell it.

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Some great answers here. All I can add is that if you specifically market your game as "educational" then yes, I think you're pretty much killing the non-edu market. This is not your fault and has to do with the fact that "edutainment" is usually done so horribly wrong that gamers are accustomed to games either being fun OR educational but never both at the same time.

The opposite is not true. I know some educators that routinely use entertainment games (they call them "COTS games" - Commercial Off-The-Shelf) in their classes when they see the educational content buried in there. So if you want to reach both markets, consider selling it on its entertainment value first, and then reach out to educators and schools at conferences.

Another thing to consider, if your game is aimed at K-12, is that there are state standards for the exact subjects that must be covered in each grade, so you should work with some local educators to make sure your game conforms to the standards. Yes, this means making a K-12 game is hard, because the standards vary from state to state, and that's something you'll have to deal with.

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+1 for the state standards, would have never thought of that. –  Noctrine Jul 23 '10 at 17:05
    
Sounds about right. When I've talked to people (not necessarily people interested in using the game), I've always told them that it's first and foremost a game. –  mmyers Jul 23 '10 at 19:16

Were they your previous versions? If so, can you build a marketing agenda based on them? (Use cases, testimonials, and what not)

If not, then the first step I recommend doing is:

Find a decent sized school, and offer it to them for free. Like Bryan said before me, schools are cheap. The administration already has enough trouble without wondering why they should purchase your product. By removing that, they will be a little bit warmer to a pitch.

You do of course, still have to pitch :1. But in it, you would want to maybe work out an arrangement where you can collect relevant data for future pitches and what not. Impact on Student Education overall :2, student/teacher testimonials.

Why?

Schools seem very receptive to what other schools are doing, students are very social and there always seems to be talk about what other people have. I've noticed that among colleges a good deal of the intranet is shared (same email solution, same billing, same online courses). Or even to use a bigger and far more broken example, look at how quickly Facebook took off among college students.

After your foot is in the door, you can refer back to how it helped this school (because if something is beneficial and THEY have it, WE want it too.


As for your sidenote. IMO:

It may drive off some 'core' gamers (The group that commonly considers themselves the majority of gamers.) but looking at the success of casual games. The numbers seem to say that either the larger part of the market is of a younger / older age. Or they are the only people spending the money :p

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1: Pitching may be a bit easier if you let them know that they have the opportunity to be the first to get it| School's also like having stuff that no one else has, and administration like to brag. –  Noctrine Jul 20 '10 at 17:52
    
2: This one is VERY important. Because school's are judged by state government on both attendance and overall grades (especially standardized testing) In a school with failing grades, it is usually very tense and some schools help their students cheat to make the grade. –  Noctrine Jul 20 '10 at 17:53

Consider contacting a publisher.

Full Disclosure: I work for a place called Attainment Company. We specialize in Special Education products. We sell both software and physical products (books, games, etc.), we distribute catalogs semi-frequently (worldwide) and also do some web sales. A lot of our software is done in house, but we do sell some applications from other companies as well. I don't know 100% how that works because I'm not at all involved with the catalog and all that (Software Engingeer), but I imagine that there are similar companies for the general education market. Though if you feel your product would be applicable to special education I can see if I can find someone to get in touch with.

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+1 Working with a company with a portfolio of successful products in the category you are looking for will definitely make initial pitches easier. –  Noctrine Jul 21 '10 at 20:02
    
I actually already have a publisher (Paradox Interactive). They're mainly in the gaming market, but they do keep a database of people who they know use their games for educational purposes. I posted this question because I haven't gotten a lot of answers from their marketing people. –  mmyers Jul 21 '10 at 20:47

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