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Gaming is bridging worlds — and creatives are making the most of it

Judges discuss how this year’s Gaming and Entertainment category winners won them over with humour, intelligence, and a willingness to tackle some of the big issues.

Keza MacDonald, Video Games Editor at The Guardian, led this discussion with panellists from the Gaming and Entertainment Jury. She was joined by Lovisa Almgren-Falken, Group Creative Director at EA Games; Tiffany Rolfe, Global Chief Creative Officer at R/GA; and Joey David Tiempo, Founder and Chief Creative at Octopus&Whale — all part of the Gaming Jury. From the Entertainment Jury, Will Scougal, Director, Creative Strategy at Snap Inc. and Brian Ma, Executive Creative Director at TBWA\Media Arts Lab Shanghai, also joined. 

They debated some of the ethical considerations of this year’s Pencil winners, discussed the huge opportunities the games community offers, and explored how gaming and entertainment offer a critical route into discussing some of the issues facing the world today.

Clever brands understand the potential of the gaming community

Lovisa Almgren-Falken, Group Creative Director at EA Games, chose McCann London’s Beyond Generations: Gaming Against Loneliness campaign for Xbox as a personal favourite — describing it as both a compelling and moving piece of content. “I thought it was a really lovely way of showing how gaming can bridge generations, but also bring people closer together,” she said.

For Will Scougal, Director, Creative Strategy at Snap Inc., the campaign shows how much potential the gaming community offers. “Most gamers are ageing up, and it’s something that will stay with them for a really long time,” he said. “We’re going to see some really interesting changes in the social dynamics around gaming as we start to see new digital opportunities for connectivity start to open up in the emerging digital world.”

The best ideas bridge worlds

For Tiffany Rolfe, Global Chief Creative Officer at R/GA, gaming can unite disparate subjects, platforms and people — as shown by Engine Group London’s Long Live the Prince. The integrated campaign introduced the late Kiyan Prince, a promising young footballer that was murdered aged just 15, into video game FIFA as a playable character. Rolfe said it “really showed the power of how messages and storytelling can be conveyed in a totally different way within a gaming environment  — how profound it can be when you can experience and not just tell a story.”

“When you think about connecting to a new generation of people, and where they’re at, and how you connect with them in the place they are… they are in these gaming worlds in a way they understand. I think this also bridged worlds,” she said.

Rolfe said that the idea of multi-platform connections was very evident in this year’s Gaming and Entertainment entries, which showed that mixing real-life and digital storytelling could engage people at a much deeper and more memorable level. 

Augmented reality is a craft

Innocean Worldwide Europe’s The Bookcase for Tolerance — which turned Anne Frank’s bookcase into an augmented reality app — was Scougal’s favourite Pencil-winner in the category, described by him as “a wonderful example of how AR can be additive to the experience people choose to have”. He emphasised that we’re currently in a huge behavioural shift around how people use AR, and how it can share challenging stories, and address audiences that are often hard to reach. 

As studios and agencies experiment more with the technology, Almgren-Falken believes we’re moving into new territory. “This is where normal advertising creatives start doing gaming briefs, and [exploring] how they [can come] at it from a really different angle,” she explained. “A lot of the other categories, creatives have likely been working in those for years and gaming is a fairly new category — so there’s so much left to explore, and you can really see how creatives get off on these new categories and partnerships.”

What kind of world are we building?

Joey David Tiempo, Founder and Chief Creative at Octopus&Whale, chose BETC Paris’s Gender Swap — which highlighted the sexualised and stereotypical presentation of female characters in games — as her favourite piece of work. She commended it for tackling a serious issue of sexism and lack of representation in the games industry while remaining playful and entertaining. 

This Pencil-winner sparked further conversation among the judges about the wider implications of who’s being depicted in the virtual world, and how they’re being shown. “I think it’s very interesting, when the virtual world becomes more real, the issues that happen in the virtual world become more serious and we have to take it seriously,” said Brian Ma, Executive Creative Director at TBWA\Media Arts Lab Shanghai. “There’s a whole new world we’re building, we have a responsibility [around] how it’s going to look.”

 Production: 90 Seconds

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