ost exhibitors will never need to quarantine part of their audience as if they were contagious. But when video-game maker Red 5 Studios Inc. wanted to promote its newest version of "Firefall" at Gamescom 2012, an international show at which gamers of all ages are allowed to attend, hard-core regulations forced it to segregate visitors age 13 and under from violent content.
While the standard answer was exhibit architecture as guarded as a maximum-security prison, The Trade Group devised a simple split-level solution for the 6,180-square-foot-booth: On the ground floor, youngsters could hang out and learn about the game, while on an upper deck, their elders could enjoy a more sanguinary experience.
The designers' approach balanced the vanilla with the violent. Wood-frame walls lent the booth a battle-scarred profile, a look augmented by graphics skins featuring various game scenes. A custom-made steel dome layered with images depicting the game's spider-crab-like "aranahs" topped the structure.
Attendees who explored the PG-rated ground floor found more culture than combat. Interactive 32- and 65-inch touchscreen monitors permitted visitors to explore the game's back story and a nonviolent primer on its weaponry. After staffers vetted attendees who wanted to play "Firefall," those visitors ascended either of two curved, steel stairways to the 492-square-foot deck, where 40 gaming stations let gamers go medieval on the high-tech aliens.
The exhibit's faithful recreation of the game's look and feel substituted beautifully for those who were too young to actually play "Firefall." The booth scored big with Exhibit Design Awards judges, too, who said, "The funky dome, the strange skins, and the wonderfully contained space for young gamers made this exhibit a world unto itself."E