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Game Devs: You Don’t Need Twitter for News, Marketing, or Networking

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By: Jay Rooney

I don’t know if you’ve heard yet, but as of October 28, 2022, Elon Musk now owns Twitter. And the second-tier social media platform’s been absolute chaos ever since. I’m not here to argue over whether or not Elon’s takeover will be ultimately better or worse for Twitter (not to mention the entire free world)—only time will tell. But even amidst all the bedlam, I know we can all agree on one thing:

Twitter SUCKS. And somehow, it sucks even more each day.

And for many, Elon seems to have been the thread that overflowed the stack. These users appear to be migrating en masse to alternatives like Mastodon, Cohost, or whatever Jack Dorsey’s supposed to unveil soon. 

But I want to propose a more radical suggestion: abandon Twitter, abandon its competitors, stop feeding the attention machine, let it all crash and burn… and in the process, let us reclaim our time, our lives, our minds, and our own basic humanity from this hell of our own making.

So, that leaves the question: what to do with all the time you just freed up? The short answer is “literally anything and everything else,” but what about Game Devs who might have used Twitter, whether for personal or professional purposes? Well, there’s something for everything!

1. Network with fellow game developers

As venomous as Twitter is, I must give credit where credit is due: it really is (or was) a good way to connect with likeminded gamers and game devs. Back when Twitter was actually somewhat useful and fun, it was in large part because of this.

The good news is that gamers and game devs have never been short of online spaces in which to gather. In addition to countless subreddits, Discord servers, and LinkedIn groups that are specifically focused on game development, there are also online courses on game development that have built up robust developer communities (like IGA!).

And now with the pandemic starting to subside, I’d be remiss to not mention one tried-and-true, old-fashioned, and once-ubiquitous networking avenue: face-to-face networking. The most reliable and productive way to network, even well into the digital age, and with good reason—there’s something about meeting and seeing someone face-to-face that forums, tweets, and even Zoom just cannot replicate. 

Obviously, classic mainstays like GDC are worth the time and expense, but if a conference is out of reach, finding a local game dev meetup is much more accessible but yield similar results.

Get out there, game devs! 

2. Make some actual games

This one seems pretty obvious, but it bears repeating: if you’re a game developer, the best use of your time is probably going to be… developing games!

If you’re working on a team, this means actually sitting down and coding, designing levels, creating art assets, etc. If you’re working on your own, it might mean planning out your game, writing design documents,or joining a game jam.

Either way, make sure you’re actually building and progressing, no matter how incrementally. Even if you can only squeeze in 10 minutes a day, it’s far better than nothing. And if you can do 20, 30, or 60 minutes? All the better!

3. Keep up with the game industry

So many people get their news from social media, which is… distressing, for many reasons. But before Twitter, people used to get their news just fine. There are countless game development podcasts, videos, Medium blogs, and news publications, more than enough to keep getting your industry news—perhaps even to a greater degree than you did on Twitter. And without a 280-character limit, you can actually get detailed and nuanced information from more authoritative sources.

Less trolls, too. Win!

4. Promote your game without social

Yes, it is possible to promote your game without social media! While it’s true that social media used to be a somewhat easy and cost-effective promotional vehicle for game marketers, these days it’s practically impossible to reach a large enough audience without seriously gaming the algorithms (which may involve deploying less-than-scrupulous tactics), paying for ad space, or both.

Instead, have you considered some guerilla public relations? If your game has a unique take on a genre gameplay mechanic, to the point it could be newsworthy, nothing’s stopping you from emailing game journalists (especially those who usually covers the type of game you’re making) with a quick message letting them know about your game, why their readers/viewers would find it interesting, and where they can learn more about or play it.

Don’t sleep on good, old-fashioned advertising, either! You don’t need to shell out thousands for a TV spot—search ads and mobile ads, when approached strategically, can provide a serious return on your ad expenditure. 

Now that conferences are a thing again, make sure you or your studio has a presence at gaming conferences (if you have the resources for it). Rent a booth, stock it with merch, print out a bunch of business cards with QR codes, and pass them on to as many people as possible.

Finally, make sure your game has some web presence, even if it’s just a basic webpage, and start optimizing it for search visibility (the technical term for this is “Search Engine Optimization,” or “SEO”). But… how do you even do that? Well, I’ll give you a hint: you’re reading how, right now!

5. Start your own game development blog

Yes, the most reliable way to increase your search visibility is by regularly publishing content that’s relevant to your audience. In other words, start a blog! Like this one!

You can start a general game dev advice blog, or a development blog with updates on your game. Either way, get writing—you want to publish at least once a week (or, at the very least, every two weeks) to build momentum. 

It’s worth noting that blogs are’t just good for traffic, but for game development skills, too. The process of coming up with a topic, conducting research, structuring a piece, constructing a coherent narrative, and (finally) writing it can be a great way to refresh and reinforce your own game dev knowledge.

Plus, a blog is also an useful portfolio that you can point to when pitching game pitches and job opportunities. So kill three birds* with one stone!

*(…Twitter birds, obviously)

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