Edtech · Game design

MVP for Video Game

Alex Chechik Educator and business owner innovating how we teach students

August 16th, 2018

I am working on an educational video game. The finalized product will have relatively advanced graphics and an avatar that players can control. It will take quite some time to write code for the graphics/avatar, which leads me to believe they shouldn't be a part of the MVP. However, I am concerned that they are essential for users to truly sense the value of the product. I could in theory just explain the game scenarios and pose educational questions based on those. My worry is that users would provide negative feedback about just those features but would be engaged with the finished product. What components of the game would you recommend putting in the MVP?

David M

Last updated on August 17th, 2018

Alex, You pose some great questions. If you can preface the design without fully rendering out the graphics that is likely the cost conscious way to go. It has been a while since I dealt with E.A and Activision, but at one point Activision was evaluating using the Call of Duty team at roughly $1M per level for a project of mine. I mention that only because at the time it was the top team on the face of the planet and even then they approached it with a test phase first. Back then, they would do peer testing prior to fully rendering graphics. If a level was not as entertaining as it should be, they would scrap it or redesign. So you are on the right track. The question is who is your initial target market? Investors? Gaming execs? Etc. In such a case, I think you can create the strategy that you are in fact mindful of costs and before you finalize the design and graphics you want to make sure that playability/entertainment/education element is as fine tuned as possible. So what you might perceive initially as a weakness..(not having the finalized graphics) you can position that you value the input of the individuals you are approaching and are also a responsible entrepreneur and want to justify every dollar spent. (something by the way too many entrepreneurs are too lazy or careless to do!) Either way, I think you come out ahead with experienced/serious parties. Now, if it were going to market and your final target market, this could definitely be a different scenario as bad word of mouth travels quickly. D

Alexandre Azevedo Founder of The Traction Stage Blog & Podcast

Last updated on August 17th, 2018

Hello, Alex! Nice to meet you.

Challenging question... but, let's see...

First, I suggest you to think about the role of the MVP as a way of validating your assumptions. With that in mind, I would think about what assumptions you are trying to validate. Let's suppose you have the following three (just guesses, I have no idea what it is about):

1) Kids will be very engaged with the game's logic of rewarding solution to problems;

2) Kids will be very excited with the graphics;

3) Kids will love the characters because their are like super-heroes...

Now, with the assumptions clearer, I would try to define a MVP to validate the maximum number of assumptions as cheap and as fast as possible.

So, considering that, I ask you: will it be too expensive or take to much time to validate the assumptions 1 and 3 with a simpler MVP with one group of students? And, when the more advanced version is ready validate the second assumption with other group?

Actually, if assumptions 1 and 3 fail, maybe you'll have to rethink your graphics. So, finishing your graphics now, could lead you to produce things (logics and characters) that won't even be validated.

My suggestion aims to give you some time to test and iterate the assumptions 1 and 3, while you wait for the graphics to be ready.

To prevent your test from failing because of the lack of advanced graphics try to thoroughly understand with the first group why they liked and why they didn't like the MVP.

Good luck and success!!