How Gaming Is Bringing Communities Together [PSFK LONDON]
We talk to Alex Fleetwood of Hide&Seek about how brands are using gaming to connect with customers.
We are looking forward to our return to London later this autumn. On 10th October, the team behind PSFK.com will host a morning of ideas and inter-mingling in the Purcell Room at the Southbank Centre. This informal and relaxed event connects readers and local creative professionals together over a series of short talks by inspirational speakers.
Alex Fleetwood founded Hide&Seek in 2007 and has led the studio ever since. Key projects include Dreams of Your Life (Film4, 2011), Hinterland (Forest Fringe, 2011) and The Building Is… (Gâité Lyrique, 2012). Prior to H&S, Alex produced projects such as The Eternity Man, a film opera for Channel 4 / ABC Australia. The film reached a global audience of half a million people and won the Rose d’Or, one of the most prestigious awards in television. He is a fellow of the RSA, and speaks on game design and cultural leadership at events around the world.
We talked to Alex about his thoughts on game design, Hide&Seek’s work with clients, and how Hide&Seek will grow in the future.
Can you talk about your philosophy behind making new games?
Hide&Seek has been inventing new kinds of play since 2007. We’re passionate about real-world play – the experience of playing together – and while our work spans all kinds of platforms (smartphones, browser, board games, street games, etc.) we’re always thinking carefully about who’s going to be playing, where and how they are playing, and with whom. We love to apply our design skills to difficult challenges, whether that’s responding to a film about dying alone or communicating philosophical ideas in a text adventure.
What work have you been doing for brands?
We partnered with Wieden+Kennedy Portland to create Fit To Serve, a British intelligence officer exam for Sony Consumer Electronics. The game put you in the shoes of an agent’s handler, communicating with her in real time as she dealt with a range of espionage missions. We partnered with Kill Screen to create Terra for Vice and Experience Intel – a game which showcased the unique properties of the Intel Ultrabook. And we’ve just partnered with Sesame Workshop to create Sesame Street Family Play which launched on Monday. We just broke the Top 25 in Family Games and rising fast…
You make and sell your own games and you partner with brands and their agencies. How does this aid or hinder your company as it grows?
The games sector is an incredibly fast-paced world. Microconsoles, motion control, multi-screen gaming – new ways of playing and sharing games are springing up all the time. There’s a fantastic independent games scene that’s breaking through to the mainstream as we speak, and consumers can find an infinite array of amazing games that are either free or very cheap. If you want to compete for attention and revenue with them, you need to be smart. We keep pace by making and releasing our own games – it’s our way of staying in contact with what consumers want, and putting our money where our mouth is. Creating our own IP means that we can work with big brands as partners – the relationship with Sesame Workshop came about after they saw our Kickstarter campaign for Tiny Games, which launches next month. Partnerships like this bring real advantage to brands and studios because it lets brands be more responsive to shifting tastes while limiting their risk, and enables the more sustained, service-oriented thinking that’s needed to thrive. There are risks, of course – we’re in the process of transitioning from a pure agency model to the more cashflow-challenging studio model, and it can be hard to split your attention between the urgent needs of clients and the little-and-often requirements of your own IP. But we love the work we do, and you can’t ask for much more than that.