“I think the brand experiences that work best with games are where the mechanics of the game speak to the brand in some meaningful way, ” Nick Fortugno said during his session at Casual Connect USA 2014. “Because then playing the game makes sense in the narrative of the brand.”
Nick Fortugno, chief creative officer at Playmatics, is dedicated to gaming as an expressive art form, so in his free time, he does a lot of interactive art work. He is co-founder of the Come Out and Play Festival, which has its tenth anniversary next year. He also spends time reading novels, swing dancing, playing the guitar, and he started skateboarding last fall.
For The Fun Of Gaming
He is clearly dedicated to gaming for the fun of gaming. He says, “I play pretty much on everything. I’m finishing The Last of Us on my Xbox before going over to Titanfall, I’m playing Kentucky Route Zero on my PC, I’ve got Plants Vs Zombies as my go-to on my phone and I use my DS for Fire Emblem and Icarus when pressed.” And he admits to owning all the last round of consoles, going back to Dreamcast and is about to purchase an Xbox One and a PS4.
In 2009, Fortugno co-founded Playmatics with Margaret Wallace because they saw a need for games that were not just clones or rip-offs of popular games. They also provide a bridge into the world of film, television, and digital media in general through the work he does with Sundance and Tribeca. On a day-to-day basis, his work includes doing the lead design work and managing the teams making the games.
Playmatics has had some great moments and won a number of awards since it was founded. Two of these are the M– USE award they won for game design on the project Body/Mind/Change and the CableFAX award for Breaking Bad: The Interrogation. Fortugno is also very proud that the White House gaming groups cite Ayiti as a seminal work, and he says, “Diner Dash is something I am always humbled by.”
For Fortugno, the most enjoyment working in the games industry comes from reaching millions of players with new kinds of interactive content. “Watching players explore the systems you’ve designed is just magic,” he asserts.
Watered Down Contact
However, he believes that currently there is too much emphasis on short term gains in the games industry, resulting in alienated audiences and watered down value of brands. He also considers discovery to be a large barrier for all game developers, but especially for mobile games. He insists, “We desperately need better channels to consumers on our platforms.”
At Playmatics, they respond to the challenge of discovery by focusing on diversifying what they create so they can compete in multiple markets. They continue to push the boundaries in games, believing unexplored territory is where you find the most exciting new ideas and the most potential value.
Fortugno considers that in the next few years, games will become a part of more goods and services, as well as “real world” experiences. Games will take on a more critical role as part of brand strategy, and narrative properties will see games as a deeper part of their ecosystem. He is also very excited about wearables and how they will enable new kinds of augmented play.
Catherine Quinton is a staff writer for www.gamesauce.org. Catherine loves her hobby farm, long walks in the country and reading great novels.