A printed zine uncovering the details of the video game industry.
Press Start is a 32 page 8"x10" printed bound booklet uncovering the ins and outs of the global industry dedicated to the development, marketing, and monetization of video games. As an avid fan of video games, I quickly fell in love with this project. For this zine I played the roles of researcher, writer, editor, designer, and illustrator.
The goal of Press Start is to not only give more breadth to people's childhood (or adulthood) pastime as well as helping to give some context as to how big the industry really is to people who may be more unfamiliar with the topic.
As to be expected, when I began my research process I had no idea how deep this topic really was, and quickly had to define the scope of my project in order to achieve a solid direction. So I asked myself some important questions: what is a video game? What isn't? At first glance this seems like a simple question, but overall the decisions made were due to what data was considered in the majority of studies and records available.
Finding an Audience
One of the most important parts of crafting Press Start was considering the different audiences I wanted to speak to. A major insight I discovered through personal observation as well as resources provided through Newzoo was the different levels of interest existing around the video game world. My goal was for anyone, no matter what level of interest (or disinterest), to be able to pick up this zine and be interested and come out with a more clear picture and appreciation of what video games provide to us.
As I collected data and resources I began to structure my narrative. And as previously mentioned with my audience I wanted to make this experience enjoyable to gamers and non-gamers alike from page one– no matter where a person may fall on the interest scale. In order to appeal to the entire range I wanted to present what can seem to be monotonous information with a tongue-in-cheek writing style and vibrant illustrations.
As for content, I found that the story that wanted to be told could be separated into two sections: consumer and creator. Each side has a strong stake in the video game industry and multiple angles to approach from. My goal was to find which angles presented the most complete picture by uncovering as many relevant topics as I could and stringing them into a flowing narrative.
Video games are a popular topic– which means lots (and I mean lots) of data. So much in fact that I expanded Press Start from 16 pages to 32 by the end of the project. Fitting valuable data into the pages without losing its effect and choking it by pinning it too close to everything else proved to be one of my greatest struggles.
Through lots of iterations, critique sessions, and practice prints I managed to land on presenting my information in the current flow:
The Big Picture
Global and comparative numbers
Influences on other mediums
The Industry (Creators)
USA & global monetary value
The Players (Consumers)
Trends and habits
Cognitive Concerns and Benefits
Video games are a visually rich topic, which gave me a ton of material and inspiration to pull from– too much, in fact. I played with the concept of touching on every era of graphics, but ultimately wound up deciding to go old school and keep it classic by taking some notes from arcade games. While younger players may not see these graphic styles on a daily basis, there is still no question that 8bit style is still very relevant to the culture while also being recognizable to the masses regardless of generation.
Once I had decided on an arcade screen inspired visual language, I immediately took to a typeface to help set the tone and through much trial and error decided on LoRes 9 OT and LoRes 12 OT to do the heavy lifting of typography for me. As for the body copy, I selected Futura as a call out to some classic video game packaging. Additionally, I wanted to emulate that old screen multi-colored haze we are all so familiar with. To achieve this, I chose to layer type on top of itself with my main colors to add depth.
Color came relatively easy, I lifted the blue and red from that screen haze I had previously mentioned and brought them some new life by brightening the colors to the current blue and pink primary palette. Occasionally I brought in other hues for data representation, but all of them aimed to copy those pixel perfect candy colors classic video games are so fond of.
Between being researcher, writer, editor, designer, and illustrator this project taught me a lot. In just several short weeks this project went from a vague idea to a fully printed, tangible zine.
So What's Next?
I had an absolute blast with this project, and plan to revisit it in order to refine, and possibly expand it. While I have already learned a lot, I could still take Press Start and utilize it as a medium to further hone my usage of grids, typography, information visualization, and storytelling.