Elyot Grant, the founder and CEO of Lunarch Studios, the makers of an indie title Prismata, did a GDC presentation for this year’s event that took place in San Francisco, California between March 21st and March 23rd.
The presentation was about getting eyes on your project using Reddit. Grant uses an example of an event that happened where the studio messed up and deleted all of the e-mails that they had collected from a convention. Grant posted about the screw-up on Reddit, which ended up garnering lots of upvotes and put thousands of eyes on their game, Prismata. This was back in 2014 ahead of the game’s Kickstarter campaign.
The presentation, called “Advanced Reddit Tactics: Front-Paging and Winning big When It Happens” is available for viewing on the GDC Vault. There’s also a back up on the Wayback Machine and on Archive.is.
Grant explains that after originally posting about the incident in the TIFU sub-reddit, he logged into his friend’s account and reposted the story with some meta-commentary in a separate sub-reddit /r/bestof/. Grant chronicles this process with screenshots of the process.
The idea was to leverage the elasticity of the viral event by spreading awareness of the event across other largely populated sub-reddits, and then stealth-edit the posts and link to Lunarch Studios’ game, Prismata. It helped put eyes on the game for the alpha tests, and raise interests for the eventual Kickstarter campaign that would take place later that year.
Grant lists different legitimate ways to get your posts on Reddit upvoted quickly in order to put as many eyes on the post as possible. He also discusses ways to vote manipulate your way into the top spot, even acknowledging that it’s against the terms of service.
Over on Reddit’s account and community restrictions page, the top of the page states that vote manipulation is against the rules, especially using multiple accounts to boost or artificially help inflate a post. The rules state…
“Vote manipulation is against the Reddit rules, whether it is manual, programmatic, or otherwise. Some common forms of vote cheating are:
Using multiple accounts, voting services, or any other software to increase or decrease vote scores.
Asking people to vote up or down certain posts, either on Reddit itself or through social networks, messaging, etc. for personal gain.
Forming or joining a group that votes together, either on a specific post, a user’s posts, posts from a domain, etc.”
In this case, Grant admitted to using his friend’s account to pretend as if he were just a random user who came across the original TIFU post, doing a meta-post on the original TIFU post in another popular sub-reddit, thus further boosting the presence of the original post, and the game his team was working on.
There’s even a graph that breakdowns the list reach that their traditional promotion had versus the reach they achieved gaming Reddit’s system.
With the presentation at the Game Developers Conference, it essentially allowed Elyot Grant to teach other indie developers how to game Reddit’s system, either with manufactured stories or real stories. Some gamers and developers who came across this presentation felt it was unethical for an indie developer to use GDC to promote breaking Reddit’s rule to self-promote content.
I did reach out to the GDC about the issue and if they decide to respond the article will be updated.