Identity, Story & Experience Design
What is the game but a microcosm of life’s journey — and play but a perspective of living life in the fullness of a self-made, self-perceived adventure into the realm of the fantastical, the mystical and the magical? Live large, game large. Live big, play big.
Dreams are like that, but as others have intoned,
“the dreamer is the whole dream.”
The dream is play and the dreamer plays.
When you think about a game, it invariably is about play. Play and game.
And, are you having fun?
Fun in the course of living, large and full.
A quick play?
What is play?
What is game?
Perhaps 5,000 years back, the PIE seed sound was *dlegh: “to engage oneself.”
The bridge to our language would be Old English plegan, plegian — “move rapidly, occupy or busy oneself, exercise; frolic; make sport of, mock; perform music,” — these layers from West Germanic, Old Saxon, Old Frisian and Middle Dutch and German. The concept of play has been around in multiple playgrounds.
Another old word — what’s been coined as a protologism. To seed sounds: proto-Germanic *ga– collective prefix + *mann “person,” giving a sense of “people together.” In the course of another 1000 years gamen becomes “joy, fun, amusement.”
A sharing is surely implied.
In the beginning, the play might be for one, then another.
Then built out to a cast of thousands, playing together.
Our opening experience with the world of game design,
packaging and strategy started with Nintendo.
In the opening pitch [I’d memorized a full Japanese opening to present in the kick-off, which I recall to this day. I presented in a smoke-filled room of executives] and to the then CEO, Arakawa san, I was asked to design a Christmas card involving Mario. It was a no/low-budget project. It was a test.
No idea where a copy of that might be in our archives.
It worked, FTW.
Our work was specifically about upgrading and advancing shelf impact, marketing organization and epiphanic content. What that jumps to — as a string of tasks — is organizing the packaging visuals and messages as a cohesive, hardware to hardware systemic strategy and tactics. Overall, our efforts were to push harder on the orchestration of content as a push-harder modeling — more robust coloration, assertive presentation of information, dramatized shooting, cross-selling and extensible product deliveries.
We designed those
supporting product additions.
We had no guarantees — project to project, we worked systemically.
And we moved on to the NES packaging system.
Ultra. Virtual Boy. Mega. And dozens of game packs, merchandising displays, meeting with game designers and inventors, and testing, on multiple hardware gaming systems, every game that we played on.
Somewhere in the mix of time, technology and product sequencing, dozens of gaming packages, Mr. Arakawa announced the introduction of a new technology: “Gamu Boyu” — the Japanese naming convention of “GameBoy” which he pronounced, at that meeting, to be an opening sales expectation of $20 million. Back then, that seemed like a gigantic number [and it’s not often in my career that a defined sales target is defined] — but sales were reached, along with the empowerment of the LeoBurnett Advertising engine of Chicago. We knew them then from a string of relationships on varying accounts, other lines of business.
Separately, we worked with variations on that team for United Airlines global systemic print and environmental redesign and our innovation brand work for Eisner and co’s Disney, the Disney Institute, Orlando.
The idea of designing for, and around, gaming has continued to this day, new gaming designers, developers and teams — from then to the now.
The Legend of Zelda logo design, a long-running icon,
which we created for Nintendo.
A legend unto itself, a fantasy fantastical —
our treatments for Final Fantasy.
Bridging extant gaming and cinematic theatrics:
A story from 1,000 years ago, newly retold, supporting
the visioning of Robert Zemeckis,
Tracking the openings with Paramount Studios and
Iron Man’s cinematic beginnings.
Collaborating with Joel Silver, the Wachowski siblings in branding the Matrix —
and the gaming world that followed:
The point to the game is the play of it;
and knowing how to play.
And when — as in our work for 38Studios and Kingdoms of Amalur, in the beginning and the end,
how a leadership team can inspire an innovation in engagement, a dream game that can ignite ideas and excitement; and come crashing down, dashing dreams to an end.
And so it is, games, like life,
have a beginning in a point of heated and enthusiastic origination — and like a brand — they have a storyline and a life of their journeying — with all the nuances of enchanted love, family-building, adventuring and sojourn. And then they just might come back to earth.
We’re more interested in the contrary.
G I R V I N | THE DESIGN OF SPECTACLE
CREATING STRATEGIES, PRODUCTS,
IDEAS FOR CHANGE.