You Can’t Go Wrong With Robots – Part One

August 6, 2010

It’s an old motto that, the more information you can give a designer, the better the final design will be. This is especially true in the case of the audience. One of our key audiences, which is near and dear to my heart, is the video game community. I’m of the generation that came of age with the Atari 2600 and hung out in dark arcades dropping quarters, so it’s an audience of which I’m a member. Designing for yourself is always fun and whenever I get a project targeting at gamers I dive right in.

There are a few things that will always peak the interest of a gamer and at the top of my list is robots (others include ninjas and monkeys — both completely viable options). Access Communications hosts an annual party at the gaming industry’s biggest trade show E3 and I was tasked with developing some email invitations for the event. Naturally, I developed, designed and wrote the copy for the invites using a robot theme. The key concept of the 2009 invite was that the event would feature alcohol dispensing robot. After a hard day trudging around the trade show, everyone’s ready for a drink and it seemed natural to combine the two ideas. Of course, the whole idea is meant to be taken as tongue in cheek humor — there would be no actual alcohol dispensing robots at the event (but we can dream). The invite was met with success and even got picked up and posted by the online gamer press which is always a good sign.

When this year’s event rolled around, the team and I brainstormed and narrowed it down to two themes: pirates (another gamer fave) and a continuation of the previous year’s robot concept. The pirate theme centered around a skull and crossbones logo I developed (more on that at another time), but it didn’t have a story behind it. Crafting a compelling story is another key to getting the audience to engage and without a story (or time to develop one), the pirate concept got shelved.

I was also completely intrigued with the idea of continuing the robot story from the previous year. It’s rare that we get the opportunity to tell long arc stories and to continue the conversation with the audience. So many projects are just one time affairs soon to be forgotten. For the follow up invite, I wrote copy that directly referenced the previous year’s invite and moved the story forward. The invite was met with a ton of positive feedback and although it did not get picked up by the gamer press, it had a more substantial impact — Access had to increase the budget for food and booze to accommodate the increase in RSVPs.

Here’s sample screens from the two invites and each links to the full invitation:

2009 E3 Invitation

E3 2009 Invitation

E3 2010 Invitation

E3 2010 Invitation

Here’s a few of the comments the team received on this year’s invitation:

  • “I will try to make it unless the robots get me first”
  • “Please RSVP me for this event, even though I will have to order drinks from a filthy human and not from a precision calibrated robot”
  • “It just won’t be the same without the drunk robots, but I’ll still be there!”

Coming in Part Two: What I designed for the events themselves.

Thinking Cold Thoughts

July 30, 2010

I’m not sure if I’ll ever get used to it. Every summer I end up working on projects that are promoting something for the winter holidays. The old phrase is “Christmas in July” and I never cease to find it weird. It may be 90+ degrees outside, but I find myself drawing snow.

Here’s some samples from this summer’s big winter project. They’re from a Sony PlayStation fourteen page booklet I designed and illustrated. I really like the way the cover came out and no one can resist Sackboy.

Cover of Sony PlayStation Holiday Booklet

Interior pages of Sony PlayStation holiday booklet

For an added bonus, one of the pages of the booklet got picked up in the gaming press and posted online — starting a huge debate (i.e., flame war) regarding Sony’s new motion controller.