Response to “Can You Make This Game?” Emails

A few weeks ago, I received an email (truncated to remove the sender’s details) that said:

I have always wanted to get into the video game app market. After the recent success of Flappy Bird, I know that I have nothing to lose in terms of just sharing my idea with an accomplished video game engineer and to see if we can work together. I am not just looking for someone to build this game for me, but I am looking to be a part of a team and to possibly get a mentor out of this as well. I know little about developing games, and only a little HTML. I am willing to learn, and to work with you to build this concept I have. If this game idea is something you see has potential, and it is something that you will help me to develop, I am willing to split the profits 50/50.

Of course I cannot share the entire concept without some type of NDA or a verbal/written agreement that my idea will not be shared or developed without me. However, I can share that it has the charm and ease of Flappy Bird, with the anticipation, frustration, and excitement of Minesweeper.

If there is chance for you to just hear my idea, I would appreciate just having that opportunity to share this concept with you. Once again, I am not trying to duplicate Flappy Bird, there are now many copy cat versions out there since the creator pulled it from the app stores. I do have an advantage of knowing what games kids like, as I have nephews and a niece who are constantly playing the newest games of their phones. I actually presented them my concept and to my surprise they want to play it.

I appreciate you taking the time to read this, and I hope to hear from you.

Personally after reading this, it took every ounce of self-control to not troll this email writer. Not many of us creatives take nicely to a “I want you to make this…without any funding” emails, for multiple, complicated reasons (and I still consider myself a beginner). Having spent a few weeks thinking about it though, I realized I don’t want to discourage anyone from making games. Since a simple, “no” wouldn’t help this cause, I figured the following response would be a better:

Hello, letter writer. First, I want to welcome you to the beautiful, creative, and diverse world of video games. I’m glad to hear you’re interested in contributing to this growing form of art. I believe every new person brings something new and unique to the culture, so I’m more than happy to hear about your new ambitions.

In regards to your game idea, however, I and my fellow game developers have received a lot of emails with similar requests. From our gathered experiences, we know most of these deals–regardless of how good those intentions are–are fraught with both legal and technical problems. So when I give this response, I want you to understand that I am not suggesting your idea is terrible. Instead, it’s an answer from the knowledge I’ve gathered while working in this industry. I hate to be a downer, but no, I am not able to develop your game for many complicated reasons.

I’m sorry to leave you empty-handed, but I can help you get started. There are plenty of tools today that significantly simplifies game development. For example, I’ve heard countless amount of praises for Construct 2, a free game engine that requires no programming whatsoever. I personally use Unity, another free game engine with a ton ofresources to get free scripts. And with copy-left licenses like Creative Commons, it’s not hard to find free art, sound, and music. I can confidently say with such huge amount of resources, anyone with a vision can make games.

Good luck!

I don’t expect a response from the email writer, but I hope I’ve inspired some hope in him/her and others with this letter.

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