Reinventing the wheel
The average game developer finds comfort in wearing the Universal Game Developer's Uniform (we just made that up), which consists of a pair of jeans, a print t-shirt promoting his/her favourite band/game/film and a black hoodie. This outfit confronts the requirements for comfort, wearability and self expression of a game developer so well, that game developer rarely faces the need to wear anything else. It is in the interest of their company to offer their employees branded merchandise apparel that would enable them to wear their company colours with pride. Oh, except game developer does not wear colour. He/she wears black. A black hoodie. So if the style of a game developer is so established, is there any reason to reinvent the wheel? We think there is.
Video games are a media that at their best offer premium grade A escapism. Video games allow us to recover from our daily routines, challenges and worries, they let us retreat to fantastical worlds filled with adventure, challenge and excitement, much like films, but in a more interactive form. Video game developers are the creators, that bless us with the much needed recreation we immerse ourselves in (at the mercy of our partners), and this is how they like to be recognised. Video game brands encapsulate the adventures and stories of the software they produce, that we are emotionally connected to. Whether it be Capcom, that reminds us of the hundreds of hours we've spent testing the strength of our friendships in Street Fighter, or Nintendo who have provided us with the fairytale of the generation; The Legend of Zelda, each brand stands for something unique, that has resonated with us on a very personal level.
Creativity ends here
It might then seem like one of gaming's biggest mysteries, that the creativity that plays such an crucial role in gaming rarely expands to the field of gaming merchandise. Gaming merch tends to play it extremely safe, and whether it actually manages to communicate values of the brand it carries, seems almost irrelevant. If we were to make a judgment on gaming based on the hoodies of different game developers, we could be mistaken to presume that gaming is the most generic form of entertainment in existence. See at the next Game Developer's Conference or Gamescom what we mean. Endless hordes of black hoodie clad game developers, what does this say about your brand? Why so? We're tempted to think it's because these companies have not yet collaborated with us, but it's more likely because merch design is dictated by an assumption on what the average gamer likes to wear. Many might have not considered that there are things you can do within this framework to make the hoodie promoting your brand stand out. What if the black hoodie would just be a template that offers plenty of room for creativity without the risk of alienating the target group?
Next Games merch revolution
Quite often we hear our pitch from our prospects, as was the case with leading Finnish mobile game studio Next Games (The Walking Dead: No Man's Land, Our World, Blade Runner, Stranger Things). They have encountered the issue of generic, black hoodies, but were unable to find any alternatives on the market that would stand for the values and creativity of the progressive company. We kicked off our collaboration with creative brainstorming where we broke out of the confinements of bulk merchandise. If it's not a black hoodie, what would it be? Next Games' cool portfolio, warm company spirit and sporty logo offered us plenty to work with, so we sketched ideas on sweatsuits, bomber jackets, sports jersey etc. inventing all sorts of cool styles that were set to revolutionise the branded game company merch landscape.
This is not a black hoodie
After the initial creative burst, it came down to the question what would the people at Next Games actually want to wear? Ah that's right, a black hoodie. We refreshed the favourite garment of the game developer with high streetwear aesthetic, combining the sporty and futuristic materials from our selection of design ideas and created a black hoodie like no other, spiced with white sports jersey mesh, transfer print details and a bold statement with a patchwork appliqué in the shape of the letter "N" in the Next Games logo. The resulting hoodie design was well within the comfort zone of the target audience, albeit with a sheen that really makes the Next Games brand stand out and speak for personality, creativity and style.
The center piece hoodie was complemented with a made-to-measure t-shirt, a footie scarf, pair of socks and a mesh cap to go with the hoodie's mesh details, all sporting different, creative versions of the Next Games logo and brand colours.
“We were sick and tired of the same boring basic black hoodies that all games companies do, and Apparel & Lovers felt the same. A&L created a line of clothing for us that uses our brand colours confidently. They created hoodies, socks and hats that wouldn’t look out of place from something you would buy on the high street. They attack briefs with a passion and care that is hard to find these days. Highly recommended.” Scott McFarlane, Company Art Director (Next Games)