Every month an industry leader wraps up MCV/DEVELOP with their unique insight. This month, we talk to James Glover, owner of Fluid Design
Congrats on Fluid’s 25th anniversary this year! What’s changed over the years, and what hasn’t?
It’s been an honour to have worked on some of the biggest and most famous IPs in gaming history, Resident Evil, Total War, Uncharted, Final Fantasy, WatchDogs, CyberPunk and Warhammer are just a few that spring to mind!
We have seen lots of changes over the years, in terms of how briefs are written and bigger budgets influence creative. The transition from media to influencers is also interesting, and of course over the 25 years since we started games have become the biggest entertainment sector in the world!
Fluid has created the creative campaigns for more games than arguably anyone, how do you approach that process?
There’s no one catch-all process, we evolve with our clients and the briefs they share with us. We try to look at every job with a fresh pair of eyes because every project deserves fresh thinking.
With that said, we do have a very basic few steps to share, which sound obvious – but to us they represent the key milestones of any project, whether that be a new brand identity, global influencer kit or community strategy.
Discover – The research phase of our work where we align and engross ourselves with as much IP detail and relevant briefing context as possible. Define – Establish our strategy, whatever that might look like. Design – The crafting phase where we make and create. Deploy – Revealing and releasing our creative to the world in the most effective way possible.
With the greatest respect to your current role, what is/was your dream job?
I’m happy to say this is my dream job. From an early age I used to draw superheroes and wanted to work with the likes of Warner Bros and Disney. I have a pretty broad interest in all things design and entertainment and a passion for architecture and car design, (particularly Aston Martins) (still working toward one), film and music.
What was the greatest [or most ludicrous, funniest, worst…] single moment of your career to date?
I get a kick reminiscing about how we started. In 1995 we didn’t have a single client, just a yellow pages. By 1996 we were working on Final Fantasy VII and PlayStation. We have continued our work with them ever since on multiple aspects of their business (Hardware, software) from Key art to Digital and Influencer kits. We have worked on almost every IP they have released.
…. And what title was the most memorable to work on and why?
Probably FFVII, our first big one (not the remake) and still working on FF even now after 25 years!
Can the games industry possibly change as much over the next five years as it has over the last five?
Without a doubt. Monetisation is of course troublesome, technological performance, graphical fidelity is increasingly exciting and all three could heavily affect the landscape. Storytelling and character building in games is in some instances the best it’s ever been and this can only ever become more immersive. Some games marketing has gotten a bit big budget for its own good. We like to put ideas first and that kind of integrity can be hard to hang on to in the world of global campaigns, mass messaging and celebrity influencers in gaming. I’m hoping the way we market to gamers will shift again.
Do you feel the games industry is headed in the right direction?
Back in the day we were given a lot more freedom just to create great original art, not too much market research or focus testing – which can harm the creative juices.
It’s very easy to over think creative, it takes courage to follow our instinct. It’s certainly possible to tick boxes and even sell games through creative by tribunal – but I swear by the notion that this is never as delightful as a potent, singular, unique, big idea that has character and depth- whether this be art, activation, anything.
Who continues to impress you in the industry? Alternatively… Who couldn’t you do your job without?
My team! Most of them have been with me over 10 years, some 20! They are all amazing, dedicated creatives. I could not do it without them and I appreciate every single person. Fluid would not be Fluid without them.