Game On Exhibition (Notepad April 2002)

With some briefs it takes a while to get your head into the world of the brand. Some products are just a bit more difficult to relate to. Like sanitary towels, financial services or anything owned by Rupert Murdoch.

But during my time at The Bridge in Glasgow I got a brief for something I was very familiar with. In fact, I’d already done all the research as a teenager.  

The brief was to create a campaign for an upcoming exhibition at The National Museum of Scotland called Game On: the history, culture and future of computer games.

Like most kids of the 70’s and 80’s I’d grown up with the first home computers. I’d played Pong on my cousin’s Atari, Asteroids on my best friend’s ZX Spectrum, far too many eye-watering hours competing in the Summer Games on my brother’s Commodore 64 and spent a bit too much time helping Sonic the Hedgehog collect rings on a girlfriend’s SEGA.

So, great brief, very open and fun. You can see from the email below they wanted a range of ideas in different media.

It was an art director’s dream. I immediately imagined retro looking 16 bit graphics and typography. And if I’m honest, I was already thinking D&AD silvers for art direction, press and posters. It just felt like one of those kinds of briefs. The sort of thing Paul Belford and Nigel Roberts would do.

Here’s what happened.

I got stuck into writing some nostalgia-heavy, Nigel Roberts-esque headlines. These are just a few that I found in my notebook.

I was going to stencil Space Invaders in the middle of the road so it looked like they were firing the white lines. D&AD ambient, in book, thank you.

Around this time the building next to the agency was being renovated (see below), which gave me the idea to turn the scaffolding into a giant Donkey Kong game with barrels being thrown at Mario. D&AD ambient silver, sorted.

We presented some stuff to the client and they got very excited.

Awards, pay rises, job offers and advertising immortality beckoned. Then we got a call from the client. One of those calls that brings you crashing back down to Earth. They had decided to go with the poster they’d used in London. I think it was a picture of Lara Croft and in big letters Game On.

Game over, then.