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mattj256
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Marketing Arimaa to Children
« on: Apr 11th, 2013, 3:55pm »
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I've been thinking about how to package Arimaa so those who would really enjoy it would start playing.
 
This is from the recent thread on SuperNationals 2013:
on Mar 23rd, 2013, 10:41am, Fritzlein wrote:
[A]lthough everyone understands that a teacher must know the subject, far fewer people understand that a teacher must know the class.  Identical material must be communicated differently to different audiences.  This made me think how to pitch Arimaa to chess players.

Rabbits also went to SuperNationals.
on Apr 8th, 2013, 12:15am, rabbits wrote:
Kids were more enthusiastic about [Arimaa] than their parents.

Now we'll bring in a different post on a different forum from two years ago:
on Mar 8th, 2009, 6:30pm, Fritzlein wrote:
[If Arimaa is to become a popular, commercially successful game,] we need to pay special attention to this point [Christian Freeling] makes: "A strategy game requires more than isolated players can bring to the table: clubs, books, teachers, a whole infrastructure."  The reason Arimaa has succeeded so well to this point is all the infrastructure that Omar created: the game room per se, the presence of on-line bots to play when there was no human community, the ability to comment games, the Forum to exchange ideas, the bot ladder to give newcomers a graded challenge, etc.  The community is key.

I hope you can see where I'm going with this.  If kids like this game more than their parents, then there should be some marketing explicitly targeting children.  We also need infrastructure geared towards children, and that means Arimaa clubs in schools.  (For me, "children" means K-12.)  
 
I'll flesh out my ideas in the next post.
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mattj256
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Re:  Marketing Arimaa to Children
« Reply #1 on: Apr 11th, 2013, 5:04pm »
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on Mar 24th, 2009, 2:56am, christianF wrote:
[T]hough Omar uses the Chess comparison, I'd rather see he didn't.

on Mar 27th, 2009, 1:12am, christianF wrote:
Arimaa is a race game and its connection with Chess is at most superficial. Checkmating a king is an existential theme, winning a race is not. In my opinion themes do matter...

Note: I think Christian Freeling's ideas (quoted above) are excellent in regard to marketing to children, but I'm not sure if I agree with him in the general case.
 
This would be my strategy for marketing Arimaa to children aged 5-11.
1. Completely ignore the AI and computer side of the equation.  Marketing Arimaa to children should be like marketing a breakfast cereal.  Kids play Arimaa because it is fun and easy to learn.  The end.  No further discussion needed.  It doesn't need to be compared to chess.  Neither kids nor parents care how big the game tree is, only that the game box won't gather dust in the closet.
 
2. Parents care that the game is fun and educational.  Think about how chess or any "enrichment" product is marketed to children.  It helps with self-discipline, self-control, cognitive development, blah blah blah.  You can say exactly the same thing about Arimaa except that Arimaa is easier to learn than chess.  That's huge.  Here you have a game that's deep, strategic, complicated enough that you can spend years studying it, but it's also easy to learn.  If Arimaa were well-publicized, why would a parent choose chess over Arimaa for their seven-year-old?  (But as I said above, don't make the comparison explicit.)  Picture a world where Arimaa displaces chess as the dominant strategic game for elementary school competition.  What would it take to make that happen?
 
3. Unlike "Go Fish" or "War," Arimaa is geniunely fun for parents to play with their children.  As long as parents give themselves a material handicap, it could be fair and challenging for both players.
 
4. This is up to Omar, but I would say for children a simplified variant of Arimaa is better than the original.  The website here suggests a variant with four rabbits and two cats.  That's fine for learning the rules, but older children would do better with eight rabbits and eight cats, or eight rabbits, four cats, and four dogs, or some other combination along those lines.
 
5. This is up to Omar, but I would suggest removing the super-ko rule and allowing draws with children.  The super-ko rule adds a significant amount of complexity and doesn't come up very often, and in my view for this market it just isn't worth it.
 
6. Do some kind of marketing targeted to children in November and December, which is when parents are most likely to buy the game for their kids.  If you're going to have a children's tournament, do it in Oct-Nov so it's on kids' minds when they ask for presents.  As Christian Freeling says, emphasize the "race" aspect of the game when marketing to children.
 
7. A Physical board is more valuable than an electronic game room.  Maybe that's because I'm old.  But that's what I think.  Physical boards allow parents to connect with their children.
 
Thoughts?
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omar
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Re:  Marketing Arimaa to Children
« Reply #2 on: Apr 14th, 2013, 4:31pm »
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Thanks for these suggestions. Your point 1 is 100% right: "Kids play Arimaa because it is fun and easy to learn". I realized this at the SNV event. It was good that Ruhina was there because this is what she focused on and that is what made the sales. If she wasn't there I probably would not have any sales; well maybe a few. I always tend to focus on the Man vs Machine aspect of the game and although people find it very interesting it doesn't hit home for most of them and doesn't persuade them to take action. Well maybe it does for some, but they are a small minority.
 
To properly market Arimaa to kids I think we need a separate site from the arimaa.com site. One that graphically appeals to kids, has a kid friendly gameroom, has subscriptions to support itself, etc. Something along the lines of chesskid.com. Such a project would definitely be beyond what I could handle. If anyone is interested to do this as a commercial endeavor I would highly encourage it. Please send me a message. Hopefully it will make you some money and it will help grow the Arimaa community.
 
The more others get involved to develop products and services around Arimaa the more it helps the Arimaa community grow. I am very thankful to everyone who have already taken such a step to develop a product or service for Arimaa. It was very apparent at SNV that without this supporting infrastructure Arimaa would just not be taken seriously.
 
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mattj256
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Re:  Marketing Arimaa to Children
« Reply #3 on: May 1st, 2013, 9:31am »
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For those who aren't willing to make a full-scale kids website, some other suggestions:
  • create or join a local club or meetup group.  (If an existing club is solely devoted to chess this will probably be perceived as an unwanted intrusion.  If it's a club devoted to strategy games or board games in general then I think it would be fine.)
  • create an after-school program
  • make a Facebook game
Also (and now I'm regretting my choice of title for this thread), has anyone ever tried to get Arimaa into the Mind Sports Olympiad?
They already have Abalone, as well as Chess and Draughts and lots of others.
« Last Edit: May 1st, 2013, 9:33am by mattj256 » IP Logged
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