“CSI Games for All!”?; On Promotion

So, Emily Care Boss, author of Breaking the Ice, talks about CSI Games, even though it was prompted by me, asking her if she thinks her newer game(Shooting the Moon) fits, because I think it does. This raises an issue close to my heart, the issue of promotion.

I raised the issue of how Capes is promoted earlier. When I asked Tony about why he promotes the game as a super-hero game instead of putting Conflict in front, his answer(which I can’t find…) was(IIRC) that it didn’t attract as many asses, and when he talked about the playtest he said that focusing on it as super-hero game got him something to compare it with.

I serve in the army, people often ask me about what my game is about, and what RPGs are in general(It’s still the easiest to go from the RPG angle, CCGs and non-family board-games are all but unknown to the public in Israel, unlike Dungeons and Dragons, and if even D&D fails, LotR). When I tell them about the game, I eventually tell them about the Colour, the fluff, the setting, and that is what most people go “Cool!” about. Ron Edwards often says that he cares most about Reward and Colour. Me? I could care less about Colour, I don’t care for Capes’s Superhero aspect, I believe Werewolf: the Apocalypse high politics and Vampire: the Masquerade hack-and-slash are viable choices.

What this shows us is simple, and even obvious. Not all types of promotion benefit all folks. When I came up with Cranium Rats, the Conflict and Competition quickly took center stage, and the Colour, while I love it, isn’t half as important. But if you’d look at ECB’s Shooting the Moon love triangle situation, I think the conflict came from the colour and not vice versa, and selling the game as “A game about Competition” rather than “A Game about a love triangle and romance”(though very much the same) would hurt the game, would hurt the promotion, more crowd would be lost than crowd would be gained. 
I on the other hand talk about Conflict and barely mention Colour, which may not work as well, but I rather do that than “Bait-and-switch”(I think most people who like Capes like it because of the Competitive element, and those who dislike it, dislike it for the same reason, selling it as a superhero game doesn’t inform your audience if they’ll like it or not. I, like Alexander Cherry, am surprised when the game is brought up in Super-hero game threads, I don’t find Super-hero game content in it, though I love it for other stuff it has).

Those of you who do identify your games as “CSI Games”, please mention it in the text, if Competition is what you pride yourself on, do so on the first page, put the “CSI Games; a Definition” post in the front of the text. If your game happens to be a CSI Game, but that is not the focus, but yet you identify your game as such, please put a mention somewhere, even if on the book’s last page or two. This project is all about creating a support-net for other people who work on CSI Games, but once our games get out there, it’ll also help to point people who like the competitive angle to other games who contain that aspect.

JJ Prince, John Kirk, I’m looking at you, this also applies to playtest versions!

7 comments on ““CSI Games for All!”?; On Promotion

  1. John Kirk says:


    I’ve been waiting for a CSI logo to put into Gnostigmata. I thought you were working on that. Did I miss it somewhere?

    Also, I have no problem with putting a small bit of text (i.e. “Gnostigmata is a Competitive Story Interaction Game”) under the logo and link to a website with more information about CSI. I’m also willing to put links to other CSI game sites on my site, especially if they reciprocate (reciprocation would not be an absolute requirement for me, but it would certainly light a fire under me to actually go to the effort of updating the site). But, I’m not about to put a whole paragraph of explanatory text at the front of my game text describing what CSI means, not to mention a whole blog entry concerning it. I want my readers spending their time doing what they came there to do: read my game text. I might be willing to put a paragraph of expanatory text at the end of the document. But, it better be short and sweet.

  2. Guy Shalev says:

    The current version of the logo is this.
    It’s a bit crappy, so expect a better logo by the end of the week, since this week will see me having more free time.
    I’ll try to come up with a short entry, but it being in the back of the game is fine, it’s more than fine, it’s great.

    I’ll set up the CSI Game Wiki this week as well, and will push people hard into cross-linking and shit. I don’t link to you on Cranium Rats Central, but I link to you quite often here, so it all adds up!

    I will add a link section to my CR site sometime soon. And you’ll be on it. Also, link to this site from your site? :)

  3. John Kirk says:

    Thanks. That will do for now.

    However, can I recommend that the new logo be very simple? Perhaps a big, fat CSI and a small “Games” underneath it. Maybe put it in a box and use an interesting font and colors, but not much else? Kinda like the d20 logo?

    I think that would would convey everything that’s needed and be instantly recognizable.

  4. Guy Shalev says:

    Feel free to try making your own version! I will try making a new version tomorrow or the day after, but I’m not a graphic person, my medium of choice is words.

    We are going for something simpler, perhaps an image of Eris/Sacred Kao with the words.

    Edit: I made some not so good versions, so Matthijs made them better. Current versions, in small(book cover sized button) and in big versions. Feel free to make your own versions. We’ll have a vote once I get the Wiki up, and after a week we’ll have our final version.

  5. JJ Prince says:

    Hi Guy & John

    I like the logo, I’ll put it up on my DvG page when I update.

    However, I still have a few niggles about the term: CSI games.

    For me, all games are competitive, if not then it’s not a game (yes most PnP ‘RPGs’ are not games). So you’re not really adding anything with the C descriptor.

    And it gets a bit tiresome telling people it has nothing to do with the CSI show…

    Come to think of it, all games are interactive too and all RPGs create story.

    Maybe we should call them True Story Games or True RPGs.
    Dramatic Story Games?

    Sorry, not really helping much am I…

  6. Guy Shalev says:

    Like I told Martin O’Leary, I disagree. I will show you why by way of examples, but first, yes, being confused with the TV Show happens, but we’ll live.

    Pinball isn’t a game? Who do you compete with? Computer Games? Also, even if these are ‘Competitive’, I want the rules to include that Competition. Games where the parameters exist without being supported by the rules? Meh.
    I also think you’re looking at a sub-group of “Games”, namely that of Sports. Games also exist to teach us, and may not have Competition.

    Well, we can look at “All RPGs create Story”, is this because of System or in spite of it?
    In spite of it, as the rules don’t force you to create a story. It’s part of the baggage of what RPGs are.
    Also, CSI Games are not necessarily RPGs, the need to get into the mind of a character, to roleplay one character? It’s not mentioned anywhere. Just creating a story.

    As to “I”, a Marathon runner has no Interaction. Sure he’s compared to, but for me(and us), Interaction means that what you do affects what someone else can do and/or does. Look at a fighting game, if you change your actions by what I’m doing, it’s Interactive. If you don’t change what you’re doing and you’ll do the same thing no matter what I do, it’s not Interactive.

    Also, Martin asked about the “I”, since all CS Games should have interaction, but I can create or think of a game without the Interaction, it’s just that it won’t be fun.

    And you’re helpful :)

  7. carl says:

    can you please make more new csi games me and my wife love to play the

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