IMF: A retrospective

Since we’ve announced that we received funding from the Interactive Media Fund, I’ve had a few people ask me for various advice about applying for similar grants. As such, I’ve decided to put together a collection of my top 5 tips for applying for this, or similar, funds.

Before we start, check out this video we made during the application process. It’s kind of fun to look back and see how much things have changed since then.

Before you read this, realise that while we received some feedback from our application, it’s hard to say exactly what the assessors liked and didn’t about our application. I’ll therefore be talking about what I think was important (also note that this process happened 8 months ago, so my memory is a little hazy).

Tip 1: It’s about more than the game

A lot of our application was about defining the game and why it was interesting, but just as much of it was about other things: budgets, business plans, marketing strategies and so on. The IMF is aiming to create a thriving industry in NSW, meaning they care as much about creating sustainable companies as they do about the projects themselves. Most funding bodies will care about the financials to some extent, so doing some homework here is key.

Different funding bodies will have different goals, and it’s really important to identify them (note that the IMF’s goals may have shifted since they moved to screen NSW). This leads us nicely to tip 2…

Tip 2: Get in touch

Talk to the funding body. They’re usually really nice people. The IMF uses external assessors who won’t look over your application until it’s submitted, but their staff will look over it for you and at least ensure it’s complete. The more interaction you have with them, the better your application will be. Have a bit of care not to just accept that something is enough because they say so – I generally tried to exceed the requirements by a lot (our budget was quite detailed), and I think that served us well.

Tip 3: Show your skills

Saying you’re an awesome designer only gets you so far – you really have to show it. Look for opportunities to show your skills within the application itself. If you can show excellent visual communication skills in your application, you’ll stand out as someone who knows their craft.

Part of this is realising that visuals are important – defining and showing the visual style of your game can be key in securing funding. The other part is just being a bit creative (but not to the point of losing the message) about the application process.

Tip 4: Prototypes are awesome

Have a prototype. Make it easy to play. Make it accessible, and make sure the learning curve works for a complete novice to games. You want the people playing to understand why it’s so goddamned amazing.

In other words, your prototype should utilise good game design.

Tip 5: It’s not real until it’s in your bank account

This applies to more than just grants, but to any form of income. Grants are well worth your time, but they do take time, and sometimes more than you’d expect. Don’t rely on the money, and have a contingency for both if it doesn’t come through and if it comes through very, very late.

So that’s it – my top 5 tips for government funding applications. I’d love to hear from anyone who has been through this process to see if their experience has been similar, and am happy to answer any questions you might have.

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