hat do samurai, gangsters, gamers, and toilets have in common? If you’re Sony Computer Entertainment Deutschland GmbH, they were all part of your exhibit at the 2007 Games Convention.
To help launch the PlayStation 3 (PS3) video-game console, Sony and its exhibit designer, Uniplan International GmbH & Co. KG, created a booth based loosely on the Paradis3 Motel game, in which several shady characters — including the samurai and the gangsters — cross paths in the fictional lodging.
The resulting 1,946-square-foot exhibit was essentially one big Motel 6 — with the light left on in the lobby, garden, pool, restaurant, and, yes, even the bathroom. In the lobby, for example, attendees lounged on sofas and played with consoles placed on piles of clothes in battered suitcases and trunks, while in the restaurant they gamed at a long communal table. In the bathroom section, visitors sat on non-functioning toilets, chilled in whirlpools and bathtubs, and stood at urinals, flushed with the excitement of testing out PS3 games.
In the “swimming” area, Uniplan laid down a 10-by-10-foot carpet imprinted with a photograph of a pool, then shined a gobo over the rug’s surface to mimic sunlight dancing off water. Attendees lazed on air mattresses that seemed to float on the pretend pond as they played on floor-mounted consoles at the pool’s edge.
According to judges, who selected this exhibit for the competition’s top honor (the EDGE Award for Exhibit Design and Graphics Excellence), “The immersive, participatory design is incredibly tailored to its audience. Every element was chosen to create an experience for the attendee — not a mere aesthetic. This is the definition of an experiential environment.”e