Designing the brand as an excursion into the extraordinary: imagination and digital place-making in adventure.

Girvin has thrived — and designed — for decades in the extraordinary, the enchanted, imagined environment as a place of design marvelment; since the beginning, it is the practice of creating branded, integrated designs — telling stories – that reside in the place of imagination, entertainment and the celebration of the magical. The engagement is all about the idea of moving the imagined into the realm of the real — the kingdom that is really there, wholly ideated, that has thoroughly been built, that — in play — leads the gaming voyager into the many pathways of enthrallment.

Games, and their worlds, must captivate — so too, their brands. The designers, the world builders, the engineers of interaction — slowly they shore up the perimeters; it’s a layered universe that is — increasingly — without barriers, extending out, further and further; and living live in the universal spirit of a digital, artistically rendered, painterly imagining.

Guild Wars 2 is built on a modeling of global persistence — a wide open game-world that advances beyond the instanced zones of the first design system, the original Guild Wars. Players will build their worlds, within their choice selections, that will evolve the structure of their play — and the interactions within — amongst the contestants. Interaction is continuous, manifested in the persistent game-world. Combat, player versus player, has evolved — guild versus guild matches, as well as entire worlds in play, engaged in battle, in what is called the Mists. And, to the nature of persistent engagement, PvP characters will be freely accessing competitive skills and equipment.

Designing the visual expression of story in brand for a game that already has a player base of several million subscribers is a potent responsibility — yet this new emergence, GW2, suggests a far great audience, beyond the opening foundation.

Gaming, and storytelling, is a world that we know — from the legacy of our experience — heading back decades in enabled expertise. We started by designing a Christmas card for Minoru Arakawa — the now retired CEO of Nintendo of America; that lead to recognition as the designer of record for all product development and packaging design consulting: all NES platforms, all games, all new hardware. That’s everything from Super Mario to 64, from Donkey Kong to the newest gaming interface strategies.

This included the zenith of even the pivotal GameBoy (ゲームボーイ, Gēmu Bōi), designing the more impactful logo below — the quintessential success for Mr. Arakawa’s legacy.

Working closely with the Nintendo team — both the NOA(merica) and Nintendo of Japan, we dove deep into gaming culture, working on early testing prototypes for everything “gaming” from all launches to product evolutions. These early foundations laid the system of listening, learning and exploring that lent themselves to other levels of insight — and designing in the realm of pivotal entertainment and world related gaming branding.

Working in this opening construct built the tools for expanding — learning the working world of the gaming designer, and the teams that enable the play — to other levels of game explication — from the theatrical to the emergence of other platforms, springing from comics or ancient, even mythic storytelling.

Surely the spirit of the game reaches to archetype, legend and myth-
making — there are cycles in the story that are classically motivated.

And this is a continuing heritage, in aligning our creative and brand strategic efforts with the team at ArenaNet.

We never work alone. The process of our considerations are about teamwork — closely partnering with the creative intelligence of our partnering client relationships. It is there — the cumulated experience, insights and expertise — the networked “cloud mind” of a working creative charrette, the BrandQuest® facilitated exploration that brings forth the greatest interpretation of visioning. And any brand is about vision — and imagination — but in the gaming world, and the building of the visual vocabulary that defines that game-scape, there is extraordinary artistry and intense focus on making real, the dreams of many. Our role is about the interpretation of that story. And what — with all the components — it might look like.

Working with the leadership team at ArenaNet — not only the creative directors of the organization — but stylistic and art leadership for the GuildWars illustrative and world “art” direction, operations and technical support, as well as legal executive team members — including the founder of ArenaNet, Girvin quested the brand.

Our approach, in customizing the BrandQuest® for the team was about sophistication, salience and speed. We examined metaphorical structures and brand positioning ideations, as well as design voice and vocabulary — what potentials are there, for marketing advancement? What style, what visual lexicon design language emerges? It’s always an amalgam — of ideas, of metaphors, of trends and strategic foundations: from here, Girvin brand strategy becomes creative intelligence. Feelings find form.

From here, our teams work in tandem to find the heart of the brand visual – even exploring the symbolic, in locating and bridging the underpinnings of the brand story — the stenciled cut marks of the master type design conveying secrets to the brand world and the warring “tribes”.

Partnering closely with the internal creative team — an entire army of master illustrators and game strategy talent, Girvin’s team finds the right mix of customized font design and the spiraling evocation of the dragon force, curled in the snarl of a arabic numeral: 2.

Any brand is a system of design movements — tactical care in management — and again, a close alliance in discerning the discipline of the brand story, to mythic applications in imagination is an important exposition for wide media dispersal.

Typographic planning — and color systems, in palette management — to fortifying brand:

Product development and merchandising planning:

And finally, in the genius of the complexity of these worlds that the gaming voyager approaches — for battle, for exploration, for play — see more here:

Our work has always been about intelligent listening — working tightly with our client partnerships to embrace and build out brand story and emotional experience. The movement to engagement always lives in the place of emotive binding — it’s there that the excitement begins, that enthusiastic sharing in community advances — one shares with another, and another…And given the scale of the audience, and the burgeoning minions of players that are coming to the launch and event site, the story newly begins.

Play on, show freely, your world.


Cinematic production design and brand identity

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