By Sarah Stevenson
Throughout the history of PC and console video gaming, some of the most highly anticipated titles have tantalized potential buyers ahead of their scheduled release—thanks to game demos created by video game design school graduates.
From the 1980s and 1990s-era shareware disks to today's CD, DVD, and downloadable demos, these try-before-you-buy versions of games showcase exciting moments in gameplay as a sort of teaser for players who want to know more about a game.
Keep the Public Wanting More
Demos also serve as useful models for students attending video game design school, because a critical part of proving you're ready to work in the game industry is showing your skills through sample games that are part of your portfolio. Demos that show off your best work in terms of gameplay, special effects, rendered environments and character modeling are a must for getting your foot in the door of that first job in game design.
From the game development perspective, a game demo is an important step in the design and publishing process. A team of skilled programmers sets to work producing a fully modeled and textured environment for at least a level or two in the game, so that the development company can prove to game publishers that they have a viable product.
Since the publisher is generally responsible for funding, marketing, packaging, and distributing a game, it's essential for a developer with video game design school skills to have a demo that's appealing enough to garner the necessary support.
Distributing a Demo to the Audience
Of course, enticing new players into purchasing a game might be the most important function of game demos. Over the years, demos have found their way into the hands of the public in a number of different ways:
- In the earlier days of cartridge-based games, demos often took the form of non-playable preview videos sent out to game magazine subscribers or to those who filled in the registration cards for their games and gaming systems.
- When CD-based games became more widespread, both on PCs and consoles such as the Sony PlayStation, it got much easier and cheaper to distribute demo games on CD or DVD, whether enclosed in a game magazine or boxed in with the games or game systems.
- The current rise of Internet-enabled gaming means that players can also download demos directly onto their PC or game console.
If you hold a video game design school degree, and you end up in a game industry job that calls for the creation of an exciting demo, don't forget to look at the task from the perspective of those who will ultimately be buying the game.