Human beings like boxes. Specifically, we like putting people, and things, and companies into boxes. As in, you’re this kind of person, and you’re that kind of person. As in, your company does this, and your company does that. In the simplest terms, we here at Jackson Fish Market are a design firm. We design experiences. These experiences span everything from the identity of a company or product to its marketing collateral, to its physical presence, to its software, to its support experience. We look at them all as being holistically connected, and when done right, all contributing to create a genuine emotional connection between the creators of the business, and the business’ customers. That is our purpose.
While we’ve talked about it a little bit before, when we’re not working hard for our clients, we’ve set aside a micro-team to work on a video game. So the question is this: Why would a software design firm create a video game? At first blush, it doesn’t seem to fit. But to us, it does. Let me explain.
For us here at JFM, we strive to create user experiences that are effective at creating emotional connections between the makers of a product or service and their customers. The experience in the broadest sense, is a bridge between the two groups. The wider, shorter, and more comfortable that bridge is, the deeper the connection is between the two groups. For us, even though our gaming experience and active gaming practice is completely across the board when it comes to our team, we are all in sync in terms of where game design fits into the overall pantheon of holistic interactive design. In our opinion, interactive game design is the highest form of our art.
Services like Netflix, or Facebook, or Uber all have high points in their user experiences (and some low points). And while their design is definitely a benefit for each of them, each also provides a core service that people really really desire – an instantly available good movie, connection with friends and family, and a quick ride without any hassle, respectively. In other words, as users, sometimes we will put up with small or even large speed bumps in their experiences because their core service is so desirable. But when it comes to a video game, there is nothing but the experience. There is nothing but the design. The user experience and the game are one. If the design gets in the way, then the game is not fun. And I don’t need to play the game to get home. I don’t need to play the game to do my job. In fact, often, spending time playing a game is a luxury that takes time away from doing something that’s probably more important.
A video game needs to immediately and unequivocally connect on an emotional level with a user and satisfy their craving to be entertained. It needs to do so in multiple dimensions at once. And abandoning it for another one is as easy as disposing of a piece of chewing gum. This purity of form, and this disposability, means that designing a video game that people fall in love with is the most difficult thing a designer in our field can do.
We are proud of the work we’ve done. Proud of the work we do for clients, and on our own products. But not a day goes by when we don’t long to improve. Not a day goes by when we don’t strive to elevate ourselves to be better designers, better communicators, and better storytellers.
We’re proud to (re-)announce that we are making a video game – Drey Duncan and the Haunted Hotel.
Drey Duncan, a newly minted graduate of the Columbia University graduate school of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation spent her last savings going to school to learn how to preserve the old buildings she loves. A city law firm comes looking for a grad student to evaluate a property in the city – a gorgeous art deco hotel, built in 1930, that opened for one weekend, and has been closed ever since. At first Drey says no. She’s fresh out of school and has no experience taking on such a big job. But after losing her only source of income, Drey has no choice, and accepts the gig. What will she find? Why did the hotel close? How could a beautiful hotel remain untouched for over 80 years in the middle of Manhattan? These are the questions Drey will try to answer on her first adventure.
Stay tuned to this blog where we’re going to be incredible transparent about the entire process of creating this game. And in the meantime, meet our hero: Drey. :)