The NYU Game Center Incubator

incubator_logo_website

 

The purpose of the NYU Game Center Incubator is to bridge experimental work with the realities of the marketplace. The Incubator gives promising games time, space, guidance, and resources to maximize opportunities for commercial success.

Once accepted into the Incubator, participating projects are provided a structure to address the marketing, legal, financial, and other business issues of launching a successful commercial game. The Game Center fosters partnerships with publishers, technology companies, veteran developers, lawyers, journalists, and other industry experts who guide the Incubator participants towards their launch goal. Through a combination of curriculum development, events programming, production assistance, and financial support, the goal of the Incubator is to bring to market innovative work that might not otherwise get there.

The pilot program of the NYU Game Center Incubator ran the summer of 2014 with a showcase event on September 5th. The second cohort NYU Game Center Incubator expanded to include more projects from NYU undergraduates and PhDs and ran the summer of 2015 with a showcase on September 4th. Now in its third year, the Incubator is piloting an open-to-the public program, where NYU graduates work alongside other talented developers from the wider community. Applications to join the 2016 Incubator are due on April 24th. Learn more about the application here.

The Games

The initial selection of games for the 2014 pilot version of the Incubator came from MFA projects – games that were in a fairly finished and robust state already after year of development. In the second year, we expanded the roster of games, accepting recently graduated undergraduate and PhD students. In 2016 we are piloting an open to the public cohort, adding energy from the exciting work happening outside the department. Similar to other incubators like Y Combinator, we share the mission of enabling nascent developers and entrepreneurs realize their visions, but we see an important distinction between these commercial-focused ventures and our Incubator: The starting point of the games in the NYU Game Center Incubator is expression, not profit. The Game Center Incubator is a reverse engineering of the business model, starting with a nearly finished game and asking: How does experimental work, reintroduced back into the pressures of the marketplace, create a successful business model?

In this way, The NYU Game Center Incubator is more than a means to help the developers who go through the program. We aim to provide examples of developers creating groundbreaking work that can also sustain careers. We hope aspiring developers can look to our Incubator to find examples of effective marketing strategies or innovative funding techniques and business models. Together with our Industry Partners we’re channeling energy into these projects to build outposts on the fringes of what’s possible in game design.

Industry Partners & Advisory Board

The Incubator gives talented developers committed to experimental game design the context to address the marketing, legal, financial, and other production challenges of launching their artistic project. The program helps game makers develop the skills required to lead a successful career in games.

To provide these resources, we build genuine partnerships with individuals and organizations from the games industry. We collaborate with a group of carefully selected partners who work with the Game Center to develop the Incubator program and advise the teams. This group of volunteers includes representatives from technology companies and publishers, game designers, lawyers, consultants, journalists, and other game industry experts who will lend their expertise to help the developers launch successful games. More information about the ways Industry Partners work with the teams can be found on the Incubator curriculum page.

Together with our Industry Partners and Advisory Board, we’re creating a new context for cultivating truly innovative and groundbreaking games. The full list of our Advisory Board is available here.

devboard

Curriculum

Once accepted to the Incubator, the teams begin three months of intensive, full-time work to bring their projects to market. The Incubator provides scaffolding for success, with structured curriculum and direct management kept to a minimum. The curriculum of the Incubator foregrounds interaction with Advisors and unscheduled working time over traditional curriculum. At the onset, teams set a distribution goal, either public launch, the start of a crowdfunding campaign, or pitch to publisher, and then dedicate the duration of the program to preparing their game to meet that distribution goal.

Learn more about the curriculum, including distribution goals, the weekly experience, and interaction with the Advisory Board here.

IGF_Finalist_2016_2

Selection Criteria

The Incubator aims to enable a productive meeting of art and commerce. The selection of games is a critical aspect of this consideration. The Advisory Board looks for projects that grapple with this tension. We seek games that have the potential for commercial success, but might not get the traction they need without the Incubator. To see this in practice, check out games from the 2014 and 2015 Incubator. To determine which projects are accepted into the Incubator, applicants present to members of the Advisory Board, who evaluate the games on three criteria:

  • Commercial Potential: Does this game have the possibility of finding success when launched to the public?
  • Production Feasibility: Can this game be completed and launched with the proposed team?
  • Innovation: Does this game reflect the Incubator’s mission of facilitating new kinds of games?

The first two years of the program were only open to NYU students. However in 2016, thanks to a New York state grant, we will be able to offer the opportunities created by the Incubator to a wider range of game makers. This year we will pilot opening the Incubator NYU students as well as external developers. Application information is available here.