Never bother trying to sell your game idea to a game company. If you do ever get the chance to pitch your game to someone, however, here’s an example of how to do it.
I wrote this pitch document for Gearbox Software several years ago. Gearbox was thinking through new game ideas at the time and needed a process for employees to present and evaluate ideas. I designed the process and wrote this pitch document as an example for others to follow. I never considered it a serious concept for a game, but it demonstrated the format. The result of that process, by the way, was the selection of Borderlands as Gearbox’s next title.
I came across the example pitch recently and thought it was amusing and possibly helpful to someone, so here it is: a pitch for Elvis in Wonderland.
Elvis In Wonderland
You are Elvis Presley battling your way through your own drug-addled imagination.
As Elvis’s life ebbs away on the floor of a Graceland toilet, he wanders the dark corridors of his mind in pursuit of an evasive Priscilla. Guitar-themed weaponry, astounding boss monsters including the Beatles, Colonel Tom Parker and giant greasy food items, as well as memorable one-liners (“Elvis has left the building!”) adorn this intense first-person action-adventure. Can Elvis win Priscilla back? Can he uncover the mystery of his own imminent demise? Can he survive the creatures and traps that torment his fevered brain? Only your skill with a sawed-off Stratocaster can decide.
A number of unique features make this the game to buy in Christmas 2004:
- Play as young Elvis, comeback Elvis, and aging Elvis, each with unique special abilities.
- Relive classic moments from Elvis’s life in first person shooter form: his stint in the U.S. Army, the death of Kennedy, the 1969 Comeback Special, the Apollo moon launch, the rise of the Beatles, and Elvis’ later years in Vegas.
- Wield an array of outrageous Elvis-inspired weaponry: guitars that fire notes like bullets with each pluck, pelvic-wiggle-induced earthquakes, and a wide range of martial arts moves ranging from quick-footed karate (with young Elvis) to sumo-like crushing moves (with aging Elvis).
- Experience the surreal environments conjured by Elvis’s tortured, semi-conscious mind.
This game, an inspired combination of American McGee’s Alice (itself an inspired combination of Lewis Carroll’s Alice and id Software’s DOOM) and Elvis (himself an inspired combination of a funky black soul singer and a handsome white guy) takes place in the last five minutes (which seem to Elvis, as well as the player, as more than 12 hours of gameplay along with many hours of multiplayer action) of Elvis’s life. Priscilla Presley has been slipping away from him for years as has Elvis’s popularity and health. Now, in these last moments, Elvis’s mind travels back and forth across his life, seeking answers, searching for meaning. His anger at the injustice of it all takes physical form as diabolical creatures, intense weaponry, and colorful, contorted environments. Throughout the game, Priscilla appears and disappears like the G-Man in Half-Life, always just out of reach. In the end, Elvis at last confronts his greatest exploiter and enemy, the Colonel Tom Parker, who stands as the final barrier between Elvis and Priscilla.
Coming to Xbox, PC, PS2, GameCube, GameBoy Advance, and Colecovision in 2004.