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Entering the Japanese gaming market Concept book

16 December 2013 Bachelor thesis International Event, Music and Entertainment studies Fontys Academy for Creative Industries in Tilburg Name:

Ashwin Marapengopie


Digital Dreams

Student number:


PCN Number:


Assessment code:



Wendalin van de Giessen

Judging teacher:

Paul Schreuder

Contents Introducing Concept book Metrico ................................................................................................................................... 3 What is Digital Dreams and what are the key characteristics of their new game Metrico? ................ 5 Analysis of the company .................................................................................................................................................... 5 Performance of the company .......................................................................................................................................... 6 Strategy ................................................................................................................................................................................. 7 Structure ............................................................................................................................................................................... 8 Systems............................................................................................................................................................................... 11 Shared Values .................................................................................................................................................................. 12 Style ...................................................................................................................................................................................... 14 Staff....................................................................................................................................................................................... 16 Skills ..................................................................................................................................................................................... 17 What exactly is Metrico as a product? .......................................................................................................................... 19 Concept and content .................................................................................................................................................... 19 Emotional Selling Point/Engaging Selling Point ........................................................................................... 20 Concepting procedure........................................................................................................................................................... 21 Aspects of the brand Digital Dreams ........................................................................................................................ 21 Distinguishing factors ...................................................................................................................................................... 22 Word associations.............................................................................................................................................................. 23 The molding of Digital Dreams’ concept ................................................................................................................ 25 Visual carriers of the concept ‘Discovering New Dimensions’ ........................................................................ 31 References ................................................................................................................................................................................... 36

Introducing Concept book Metrico A concept is a subjective stepping stone between dream and act (Nijs & Peters, 2002, p. 79) The quote depicted above is taken from the book Imagineering: Het creëren van beleveniswerelden by Diane Nijs and Frank Peter, which was published in 2002. This is their definition of the word ‘concept’ in a nutshell. The NIMA Marketing Lexicon defines the word as ‘creative idea that forms the starting point of a marketing campaign’. Nijs and Peters elaborate on the word by claiming that a concept entails more than an idea for campaigning. It also points at matters of content in other areas of Imagineering. It is the ‘way in which’ interpretation can be given to imagineering1. The concept is a strategic approach of a solution (p. 80). Nijs and Peters dedicate whole chapters to deconstructing and analyzing every step that leads to a good concept for a brand. They summarize the ‘characteristics of strong (experience) concepts’ as the following: 

(Experience) concepts distinguish themselves from ideas and themes by the presence of a strong, subjective, and distinctive vision;

Strong concepts are meaningful, distinctive, have endurance, and are communicable;

Strong concepts are interpretable from multiple levels;

Strong concepts mark themselves by actuality, ambivalence, and liberation;

Interpretation can be given to the authenticity on material, conceptual, contextual, and functional level;

Experience concepts loan their authenticity to the presence of an authentic (not invented) vision;

Experience concepts arise by the integrated effort of the experience building blocks 2, based on a profound analysis of the integrated values of the target audience.

These elements should, preferably, all be present in a concept. Though there are clear examples of concepts in which all of what is mentioned in the checklist is not fully applied. It is hard to construct a ‘perfect’ concept that satisfies and stimulates on all levels, yet the idea is to maximize the full experience-aspect for the target audience.


The term ‘imagineering’ was invented in the United States of America within the Disney-concern. It is the implementing of creative ideas into practical form. Sources: Nijs & Peters, 2002, p. 13; 2 The experience building blocks are; Communication, Physical environment, Personnel, Network, Products and packaging, and Identity. These are the instruments of the imaginer, though not the core of the experience itself, which is the concept. Source Nijs & Peters, 2002, P. 74


Creating a concept that fits the criteria given in the previous page requires input and an understanding of the company itself. The topic of the research report that goes together with this concept book has not granted any opportunities in which Digital Dreams could be fully analyzed to see what the strengths and weaknesses of the company are. This means that such a method must be applied first in order to see what the key elements of Digital Dreams are and how a communication concept can come from it. It was explained in the research report that the 7S Model from Pascale & Athos (1981) has been applied to the company for the exact purpose of understanding the company and highlighting the strengths and weaknesses which must be taken into account. Therefore the following section elaborates on every factor provided in the 7S Model (The basic principles of the 7S Model are explained in the research report, chapter 3.2.4). The following chapter is the result of applying the 7S Model to Digital Dreams and their product/ video game; Metrico.


What is Digital Dreams and what are the key characteristics of their new game Metrico? Analysis of the company Digital Dreams is a Dutch indie game developer, located at the Dutch Game Garden in Utrecht, which designs and develops playful experiences (as they like to state it). It was founded by Game Designer Geert Nellen and Programmer Thijmen Bink in August 2010. Roy van de Mortel joined the team a few months after the founding of the company (Creative Business Document Digital Dreams, 2012; G. Nellen, Personal communication, February 2013).

Figure 1: Digital Dreams from left to right; Thijmen Bink, Roy van de Mortel and Geert Nellen. Copyright Digital Dreams. Retrieved from

In the first two years after the founding of the company the management of Digital Dreams focused on developing small but innovative games in their own direction of interest. Risk of low returns was high, due to the fact that these games are only sold when completed and have to be completed in own authority. That is why the company alternated by working on own IP (Intellectual Property)3 with video games and accepting technical jobs in assignment for other companies (Creative Business Document Digital Dreams, 2012). Slogan:

‘A different game every time’

Vision (concept-wise):

We like to experiment and do something we haven’t seen before,

in every game we make. We try to reach the hard core as well as the casual game market by 3

Intellectual Property means ‘the ownership of ideas’. Unlike tangible assets to a business such as computers or your office, intellectual property is a collection of ideas and concepts. Source:


creating easier and less time consuming games, which possess powerful and emotionally rich interactive experiences none the less (Digital Dreams, 2013). Vision (internal business-wise):

“Our ideal business size for our future lies around having

12 employees working on projects that last no longer than 1,5 years. We hope to achieve this within 5 years from now” (Creative Business Document Digital Dreams, 2012). Mission statement:

“Create elegant and meaningful game experiences that inspire all people

through originality” (Creative Business Document Digital Dreams, 2012).

Performance of the company Everything that was stated in the last paragraph comes from the Creative Business Document Digital Dreams from 2012. All the results that are to be found in this document are derived from several brainstorm sessions at the Dutch Game Garden with experienced professionals in the gaming industry, which are organized on a regular basis to help recently founded companies in the Dutch Game Garden to focus on what they wish to achieve and how they are planning to make that happen (G. Nellen, Personal Communication, February 2013). To find out if the mission statement of Digital Dreams is in harmony with the hard facts about the company, it is necessary to process this information in the 7S Model which analyses all internal factors of Digital Dreams. It will show which factors within the company are productive and satisfying and which factors are inconsistent or causing an obstruction in the path of satisfying the mission statement. The results will conclude where there is work to be done internally for the management of Digital Dreams and the strengths of the company will be the basis of a new communication concept Figure 2: The 7s-Model of McKinsey. All the factors are represented in this figure, including the synergy that derives from consistency between the factors. The ‘soft’ factors are visible in the center and the lower half of the figure (Shared Values, Style, Staff and Skills. The three ‘hard factors’ are show in the upper half of the figure (Strategy, Systems and Structure). Retrieved from


All the questions that are applied to every factor in this 7S Model are derived from MTD Management Training Specialists and

The ‘hard’ factors; Strategy What is Digital Dreams’ definitive strategy? Digital Dreams’ strategy is stated as the following; analyze innovative game releases and abstract knowledge. Produce and maintain good relationships with publishers and press. Maximize use of marketing and social media opportunities. Hire an accountant in the final stage of development of their game Metrico to relieve pressure on the business aspect of the company and start brainstorming for new ideas for future projects. Hire a fulltime artist to help work on the next project to increase productivity (Creative Business Document Digital Dreams, 2012). What are the company’s strategic objectives? To be financially ‘healthy’ in 1,5 year. Achieve maximum production efficiency. Create a worldwide following of 5000 people/fans (Creative Business Document Digital Dreams, 2012). What will the company do about the competition? As it is stated in their ‘vision’ on their website; “We like to experiment and do something we haven’t seen before, in every game we make. We try to reach the hard core as well as the casual game market by creating easier and less time consuming games, which possess powerful and emotionally rich interactive experiences none the less” (Digital Dreams, 2013). Digital Dreams focuses on creating original designs. This also results in problems, and the management of Digital Dreams ‘loves solving problems’ (quoted from the Creative Business Document Digital Dreams 2012). Treat games as a mature medium instead of a product for kids. Make sure that the game (Metrico) is available for as many people as possible. Make sure to release the game only as available product for digital download instead of hardcopy unit to reduce costs and to ease the purchasing process for the costumer. Make sure that all their games have a high intensity of original game-play4 moments (Creative Business Document Digital Dreams, 2012).


Game-play is a word for which there is still (surprisingly) no official definition given. The word is used to describe ‘goal-oriented activity based on overcoming challenges within game rules through game mechanics’ (Source: Gameplay generally refers to the interactions between the player and the game that the player is subjected to.


What will the customers demand from the company in the future? This is a difficult question to answer, because Metrico is the very first game from Digital Dreams that is distributed by a publisher with a key monopoly position in the gaming industry in Europe and North America. It is also the first game of Digital Dreams that is going to get any marketing effort in the first place. Therefore, this will also be the first time that a product of Digital Dreams is going to be exposed to a large potential group of consumers/target audience(s). On the basis of that, it is indeed difficult to make any predictions since the company does not have a considerable group of followers/fans yet (G. Nellen, Personal Communication, February 2013).

Structure How is the company set up? Digital Dreams consists of three key members/employees/partners, several interns and freelancers. The company is housed at the Dutch Game Garden in Utrecht, a foundation that serves to stimulate the Dutch gaming industry in a creative, economically healthy and practical manner by connecting multiple companies together in the same building. The Dutch Game Garden offers affordable workspaces in their business center and counsels young entrepreneurs with their endeavors via, what they call, their Incubator-program. Events are often organized to provide opportunities for upcoming professionals to broaden the network of students, specialists and employers (Dutch Game Garden, 2013). What is the organizational structure? As stated in the Creative Business Document Digital Dreams 2012; the company consists for 35% of I.T work, 35% of Art Development, 15% of Business Aspects and another 15% of General Aspects that regard necessary tasks for any company (like obligatory paperwork). The three key members are Thijmen Bink (28), Geert Nellen (26) and Roy van de Mortel (25). Mr Bink is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of the company. He officially serves as the Technical Director within Digital Dreams. He is also responsible for the main programming tasks for the games that they work on. Mr Nellen is the other co-founder of the company and serves officially as the Lead Game Designer within Digital Dreams. He is also responsible for the Art Direction of the company’s products and works on everything related to Public Relations for these same products. Mr van de Mortel is known as the Level Designer5 for Digital Dreams and also works


"Level design can span a range of aspects from scripting events to placing outlines and building environments; anything that involves creating levels (stages) to be used as playable areas in game. A level designer may need to be part game designer, part architect, and part artist with a touch of technical thrown in to be able to handle


on the programming tasks for the games that the company works on (Creative Business Document Digital Dreams, 2012). The interns that work for Digital Dreams are often programmers (to help with the coding within the games) and 2D/3D Artists (to help with the visual aspects within the games). There is no fixed number of interns per segment of the year. It depends on what the management of Digital Dreams needs extra people for at a given time (G. Nellen, Personal Communication, February 2013). How does the team work together to achieve goals? As it is shown in the previous paragraph, every employee of the company has different specializations in which they excel. Furthermore, every employee also has different specializations regarding specific computer applications that require a certain level of finesse to be effective. Everyone knows at least some basic skills in every application, but not enough to take over someone else’s task if it would ever be needed. There is always room and time for dialogue, which allows for every employee to ask questions whenever they feel it is necessary. When there are prudent issues that need to be hammered out on short notice, they will gather around the table in a separate meeting room to discuss what every employee wants and also what is best for the company. Every member has also written down what both their personal and professional goals are in life. It can be seen in the Creative Business Document Digital Dreams 2012, which has been cited several times already. Of course there are always differences when comparing every employee’s perspective on the company’s future, but they all agree on the strategy and objectives that are set and also on how and where Digital Dreams should grow to in the next few years (T. Bink, G. Nellen, Personal Communication, February 2013). How do the team members work together? When one employee needs something from the other, they can immediately ask him, because they are all in the same room. Every employee works more than eight hours a day and they often work late night overtime to get their task for done for that day, which they always do while alternately communicating with one another to make sure that they get things right. Unfortunately, every employee arrives at a different time during the day at the office to start working. Mr Bink is always present at ten o’clock and nearly always works late. Mr Nellen, however, often arrives at 12 o’clock or sometimes even later than that. Mr van de Mortel does not really have a certain pattern of arriving. He often arrives around 11 o’clock, sometimes earlier or sometimes later. There really is no structure in the timing of arrival. Every employee lives close to the office, so the only reasons for arriving late at the office are because they had an all the jobs that can be involved in the important and complex task of creating game levels for todays modern games." Source:


appointment, had trouble getting out of bed, or just prefer to come in half-way through the day. Digital Dreams is their company, so no one can judge them on their behavior but themselves, though it is visibly de-motivating for the interns to see that their superiors do not really care about working in strictly planned shifts. It seems as if there is some double standard in work ethics, because all interns are required to be present at 10 AM. Most interns need to travel at least one hour, sometimes two, to make it to work and they are almost always on time for normal work day office hours (which is from 10 AM to 6 PM at Digital Dreams). Not only does it seem frustrating to them that their superiors come in late (often for no valid reason at all), it also gives everyone the idea that not all employees are applying themselves to their full potential. Furthermore, it makes it in general harder to grasp what the other employees are doing in their time, because not everyone can witness it if they work different hours at the office. This situation provides the idea to some people that the employees and interns are not in sync with each other’s activities (T. Bink, interns, Personal Communication, March 2013). The factors that influence the workers motivations outside of their actual work activities are called by the name ‘extrinsic work motivation’ (Marcus & van Dam, 2009). What is the quality of communication? The atmosphere within Digital Dreams is informal and friendly. One can ask the other something whenever they need to, because they are all in the same room (if everyone is present during that day). If someone gets a task and ‘hits the wall’ at some point, he/she can ask for help or clarification if it is necessary. There is an example that shows the contrary, though; the management of Digital Dreams wanted an alternative for the company’s logo at some point. They gave this task to the 2D Artist, who was an intern. The 2D Artist made several different designs for a new logo based on their instructions. It took him a few days. When the management gathered around his desk to take a look they seemed to have altered their opinions and started opposing each other, because they wanted to press their opinions. Logically this resulted in a lot of confusion for the 2D Artist and it did not clarify anything for him, regarding their requirements. These discussions happen quite often and they seem to work counter-productive. It would help if the management of Digital Dreams would take more time to form a more firm opinion on these issues, so they would not have to alter it later on, because of a lack of effort that was put into it (R. van de Mortel, interns, Personal Communication, March 2013).


Systems What are the main systems that are used in the company? There is not a distinct name to apply to Digital Dreams’ systems that they work with. But to continue on the same note as the last paragraph; the workflow within the company is not optimal because of the reasons already given. The rate in which a project progresses could be more rapid if all the employees have some certain rules applied to them regarding work ethics. The employees, however, do specialize in the skills that are needed to get the job done. Each person is assigned a different duty that requires these skills and it is their responsibility to make sure that every aspect of their input runs smoothly. The division of labor is well distributed among the employees, because they are aware of their skills and each other’s. The synergy is there, but it could be improved with minimal changes in each person’s approach to the work ethics. The outsourcing of a number of tasks to freelancers is well put, because this is only done when it comes to tasks of which they are not capable of doing, like composing music for their games, financial administration and more (Creative Business Document Digital Dreams, 2012). The way in which the management deals with interns could definitely improve. First of all, the interns were not rewarded with a monthly fee for their efforts. This is understandable, since everyone is aware of the company’s financial uncertainty and the interns are informed of that when they come to apply for a position within the company. There was also not that much to do for most interns that were present during the period of February until July. The motivation that comes from primarily the quality of work that is being done by employees/interns is called ‘intrinsic work motivation’ (Marcus & Van Dam, 2009). The office was slightly overmanned during that period, which meant that the management had to improvise with workspaces for the interns. So all together; there was not a whole lot to do for the interns, the office was slightly overmanned and the interns were not granted a monthly fee. This resulted mostly in an absence of motivation and an absence of the incentives to cause some motivation in the first place. The two programmers had their contract with Digital Dreams terminated early via their school so they could leave two weeks before it actually ended. They had to put some extra effort into getting that done, but they would rather end their internships early so they could continue with a summer job that benefited them mroe. The 2D Artist tried to leave early as well by working more hours a week to get to the required amount of scheduled hours needed for his school’s norms. He was less successful in this pursuit and it also resulted in an unpleasant confrontation that escalated rapidly (2D Artist intern, Personal Communication, May-June 2013). There is not a lot to say about the Customer Relationship Management of Digital Dreams, because the company is only defining their target audiences yet for marketing purposes. The management of Digital Dreams collaborates with Sony and does this in a professional manner. Sony allows Digital Dreams to provide all the content for Metrico as well as letting them take all the marketing 11

aspects into their own hand. The management of Digital Dreams takes the attention that they get from the press very seriously and actively works on expanding their network to improve exposure of their products. They do this by sending e-mails with press release information and by visiting several gaming events to get in contact with big press media outlets (explained in chapter 1). Some examples of these events are the Game Developer Conference in San Francisco (United States), PAX Prime in Seattle (United States) and GamesCom in Köln (Germany) (T. Bink, Personal Communication, February-August, 2013). How are the systems monitored and measured? Every bit of input by an employee or intern is saved on the local server of Digital Dreams. In this way everyone can access the materials of themselves or of other employees whenever it is needed. This server gets backed-up and updated on a daily basis to keep every task running smoothly. The communications with freelancers, third-parties and the press are also documented and backed up on the local server of Digital Dreams. Interdisciplinary tasks in between employees are often discussed and consulted between one another. In this way the lead programmer will also know what the marketing intern is working on and vice versa. Measuring press exposure is done by gathering hardcopy- and online articles. The online traffic regarding everything related to Digital Dreams is also monitored by Using Google Analytics and other online traffic analyzing websites (G. Nellen, Personal Communication, February 2013). What processes are currently used? The key activities of Digital Dreams in general are; marketing, game development, acquisition, and business development. The time-cycle of a project within Digital Dreams goes like this; Preproduction (concepting, prototyping, pitching, contracting, game design), Main production (art production, tech production, testing, marketing, promotion) and Post-production (marketing, publishing,, after care, long tail/loose ends) (Creative Business Document Digital Dreams, 2012).

Shared Values What are the values that the employees keep to in the business? The mission of Digital Dreams is to “Create elegant and meaningful game experiences that inspire all people through originality.” The values with which the management of Digital Dreams identifies itself are; immersive storylines, infographic art styles, innovation in gameplay, originality, inclusiveness, intensity, innovation, emotion, experimenting, and problem-solving. Furthermore, a focus on the downloadable console market and making good use of the potential


that is present in the hardware on which their games are suppose to be played is of great importance to them. These values are all summarized in their Business Model Canvas 6 and in derived from personal communication (Creative Business Document Digital Dreams, 2012; Personal Communication March 2013). The value ‘infographic art style’ only seems to apply to the specifications of one product (Metrico). The reason why it is stated as a general value within the company is because the management would like to focus on creating sequels to Metrico after its release. Therefore, the company would be working on/with this infographic art style for the next few years to come (T. Bink, Personal Communication, February 2012). What is the corporate culture? As already stated in the ‘Structure’ segment of this model; the atmosphere at the office of Digital Dreams is informal and friendly. Everyone is present in the same room and there is always the opportunity to ask someone a question when it is needed. However, there are underlying frustrations present at the office among some employees, because there are mixed values when it comes to simple work ethics, like arriving at the office in time. These frustrations are difficult to explain for some interns, because there is still a chain of command and an intern’s grade and evaluation could be influenced negatively if someone of the management is critiqued and does not like it. In fact, this happened once (as it was explained about the 2D Artist as an intern) and it did not end positively. It also did not solve anything (2D Artist intern; G. Nellen, Personal Communication, March 2013). What is the strength of these values? At the core of almost all the values of Digital Dreams lies one paramount, abstract value; a sense of originality. Values like immersion and innovation do not arise without trying new things and leaving a distinctive own ‘mark’. As Steve Jobs (the late Chief Executive Officer of Apple Inc.) puts it; “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower” (Syal Consult, February 2011). The context in which this quote is to be perceived is about making a distinction between changing the industry and simply following along with how the industry changes. The management of Digital Dreams does not only state that they want to innovate. They also take steps to make it come true. This is demonstrably shown in their personal take on designing an ‘infographic art style’ with a personal approach and also implementing it in a video game. It also shows in the fact that they apply this to the relatively new PlayStation Vita (Creative Business Document Digital Dreams, 2012). And lastly, it is shown in the fact that they make an effort to


The Business Model Canvas, is a strategic management and entrepreneurial tool. It allows the user to describe, design, challenge, invent, and pivot their business model. Source:


include Japan as a target audience, even though the industry over there is unknown to them. So the strength of these values is that it could help Digital Dreams to attain a high position in the segment of the gaming industry where they are active by taking chances with high risks where other companies rather stay clear from. How are these values communicated? Unfortunately Digital Dreams does not have a considerable marketing budget or a communication concept to use as a guideline yet (which is the reason for the attached Concept Book). The management relies on mostly traditional word-of-mouth and online marketing. But they do have an advantage, because the office is housed at the Dutch Game Garden. There are startup companies as well as companies with a commendable reputation housed in the building of Dutch Game Garden, which provides certain opportunities. Dutch Game Garden organizes a ‘network meeting’ every first Wednesday of the month where all these companies have lunch together, playtest7 each others’ videogames and converse about what they can offer each other. There are also national and international visitors present to share their work with others (Dutch Game Garden, 2013). This monthly event is a good opportunity to get the word out about Digital Dreams’ current project. The management of Digital Dreams also attends other events (both national and international) to expose and market Metrico. Game Developer Conference, PAX Prime and GamesCom have already been mentioned. And lastly, the management also sends out press releases to dozens of gaming journalists to increase their online exposure (T. Bink, Personal Communication, February-August, 2013).

Style What style does the management team adopt? The style that the management of Digital Dreams carries out at the office is mostly a consultative management style8. Everyone who works at Digital Dreams (including interns) can voice their opinion and show their expertise on different subjects when it comes to making important and


Playtesting is a method of quality control that takes place at many points during the video game design process. A selected group of users play unfinished versions of a game to work out flaws in gameplay, level design and other basic elements, as well as to discover and resolve bugs and glitches. In addition, the process mainly involves clarifying the vague points, adding fun elements or reducing boredom, balancing the victory situations, and so on. Source: 8 A consultative management style is a style in which the manager/management will actively seek out the opinions of employees before a decision is made (…) A consultative manager is far more likely to recognize that employees are able to make a valuable contribution to the running of the company. While the final decision still rests with the manager, the action of seeking input is part of the day-to-day reality of the business. Source:


difficult decisions. The choice is eventually always made by the management and not ruled by a majority of votes. When the management alters their choices, it is because of good, relevant arguments to do things another way. If there is disagreement, then there should be a good reason for that and not just an emotional response or an appeal to authority (T. Bink, Personal Communication, March 2012). How effective is it? The consultative management style has a generally positive effect on the motivation of all employees and interns. Employees are more eager to contribute to a business if they realize that their input is valued. The main downside is that it generally takes longer to come to a solution that everyone is comfortable with (, 2013). The issues with motivation at the office of Digital Dreams are in no way a result of applying this management style. It is also the most appropriate management style because of the small size of the company. Employees converse with each other in the same room every day; therefore it would be strange if this is not possible when it comes to important matters that involve increasing the success of the company (T. Bink, Personal Communication, February-August 2013). How would the teamwork among the staff be rated? There is always a certain sense of teamwork present, though it could be better. This is again often due to the difference in work ethics. On the other hand; no one needs to climb ‘a chain of command’ to reach a certain person within the company if they need to talk to that person. Like stated in the previous few paragraphs; the employees are aware of their own skills and of those of their colleagues. The work is distributed among the employees in the most efficient way possible. The best man/woman is assigned to the job that best applies to him/her and this helps increase the productivity within Digital Dreams. It has to be stated that the potential of some interns could be applied better by planning out their assignments more meticulously. It often occurs that an intern has no tasks whatsoever assigned to him/her and therefore he/she must find his own way to fill up the remaining time he has left at the office that day. This has a demotivating effect for that intern, because this happens more than once a week (2D Artist intern and Programmer interns, Personal Communication, March 2013).


Staff How do the employees/teams specialize in their roles or are they more general in their responsibilities? The company only contains three permanent employees and multiple interns (dependent of how many there are assigned in a certain period). Therefore, there is only one real, solid team to identify within the company. This is the team of Mr Bink, Mr Nellen en Mr van de Mortel. They specialize individually in certain fields of interest. Mr Bink is the Technical Director and Chief Executive Officer. He also takes care of the financial and legal aspects of running a company. His main specialization is Programming. Mr Nellen is the Lead Game Designer, Art Director and also manages the company’s Public Relations. His main specializations are Game Design and Narrative Design. Mr van de Mortel is the Level Designer and also a Programmer. His specializations are, conveniently, also Level Design and Programming. The only things that stand out when comparing the three employees are that Mr Nellen is not familiar with Programming and Mr Bink is not familiar with Level Design. Other than that, these three employees understand at least the minimal of each other’s fields of specialization. Each employee is, indeed, well-fit for its role. All of them have earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in their field and Mr Bink is also pursuing a Master of Arts degree in Game and Media Technology(Digital Dreams Creative Business Document, 2012). Are the right people active in the right places? This question obviously overlaps with a lot of content given in the answer of the previous question. As the answer to that question about all employees states; they are all well-fit for the roles that they take at the office. One could elaborate on these types of questions if they would be applied to the staff of a bigger company with more employees, but since there are only three at Digital Dreams, there is not that much to cover. What development do they need? Again, factors as elementary as work ethics could definitely use some adjustments to increase the workflow. Other than that, Mr Nellen could take some steps to try and understand the basics of Programming so he would be able to understand the works of his colleagues better. The same thing goes for Mr Bink, though he could use some basic skills in Level Design for that same purpose. That being said, it is not crucial to keep the company going. It would just help them to work even better as a team. Furthermore, all of the employees could use some better management skills to help delegate certain tasks to the interns to keep them occupied. It could also help them to motivate the interns more so they would become more actively involved with them as well, instead of just with their permanent colleagues. 16

Skills What are the strongest skills present in the company? The employees of Digital Dreams obviously excel mostly in their Programming- , Game Designand Level Design skills. Every company that develops video games obviously needs people who are very advanced in those areas. What sets them apart from a lot of other game developing companies is their ability to work with code in an engine9 called Unity 3D. Unity 3D is an engine provided by the company Unity Technologies with the purpose of being able to function as a development tool/program for multiple gaming devices/platforms as well as web-plug-ins. It was first released in 2005 to function as an engine for products by the company Apple, but rapidly expanded to function for multiple other platforms (Unity Technologies, 2013). The engine has already been used for the programming of a lot of games, though that has not been the case for the PlayStation Vita on which Metrico is to be released (Unity Technologies, 2013). Unity Technologies has only recently announced that they are working on making the engine fully available for the PlayStation Vita (Brown, March 2013). Digital Dreams’ game Metrico will be included in the first generation of PlayStation Vita-games that work with Unity as its engine. That is one of the main factors that are going to set Digital Dreams and their game Metrico apart from their competitors (T. Bink, Personal Communication, March 2013). What skill gaps are there? The management of Digital Dreams is lacking in their ability to deal with necessary documentation for the company, like keeping financial records. They are also inept when it comes to creative marketing, which is why I was hired as an intern. I strongly suggest that they put effort into these disciplines for the fortune of the company. There are no noticeable skills gaps as of now in more technical issues (February 2013 and on). There are, however, issues with Unity Technologies itself, because the providing company is working to make the engine as userfriendly as possible, though the process of realization is taking very long. The progression is just a bit too slow for the management of Digital Dreams to cope with the software. The good thing is that the employees are very creative in finding solutions when it comes to the software. Other than that, there are no skill deficiencies noticeable (R. van de Mortel, Personal Communication, March-April 2013).


An engine can be defined as a piece of software that facilitates automated processes with the use of code language, in which different software elements work interactively to minimize human intervention. In other words, an engine is the self-actualizing element of a complete process and is, therefore, the driving motor behind the original process (video game or other software). Source:


Is there staff that can do their job competently? There is no question about it that all the employees are competent at doing their jobs. Every employee is also a stakeholder of the company and as of now they rely on the success of Metrico. Therefore they are actually forced to make sure that they stay at that level of competence on the job. A company like Digital Dreams that only has three permanent employees cannot afford to work with employees that are not skilled enough to handle the tasks that come with the job. How is measure and success rewarded? As of now, there is no instant reward for anyone who works at Digital Dreams, which is a problem. The company is not generating revenue yet, because it is still working on its first big project. The reward for the management is dependable on the success of that first big project (Metrico). Therefore it is difficult to make an assessment of the situation since not all the variables are present yet (reward and success). This means that the management has something to work towards and to look forward to when the game is finally released. On the other hand, the interns do not get any rewards whatsoever. They work to pass their grades and that is basically it. There is no monthly fee or some sort of extra opportunity in it for them, which again has to do with motivation (T. Bink, G. Nellen, interns, Personal Communication, February-July).


What exactly is Metrico as a product? Concept and content Metrico is an action/puzzle videogame10 for the PlayStation Vita with a playtime of approximately 3,5 to 4 hours for the price of 12 euros. The game will be made available on a global scale through the PlayStation Store; a digital and online purchasing platform for all downloadable games that can be played on PlayStation-devices (T. Bink, Personal Communication, February 2013; US PlayStation Blog, August 2013). The game introduces a world that consistently exists out of infographics11. The player will explore this shape-filled landscape with two or three different characters and come across nostalgic memories that defined the characters’ current existence. What sets this game apart from other PS

An in-game screenshot of Metrico in prototype stage of development. The game was running under the projectname FYI (For Your Information). Copyright Digital Dreams. Retrieved from

Vita-games is that aspects of the environment respond/change when certain buttons are pushed on the PlayStation Vita. This gives the player the obligation that he/she must plan out every move that he/she will make, because a wrong move might mean that the environment changes to drastically, which can result in the player not being able to reach the end of the level. The game won the award for Best Design at the Indiepub Independent Propeller Awards 2012. The game was still in prototype development at that point (depicted in the figure above) (T. Bink, Personal Communication, February 2013; van de Mortel, August 2013).


The term ‘action/puzzle’ (video)game was coined by the management of Digital Dreams itself. They were not comfortable with giving the game a commonly used genre-name, because of the fear of getting categorized among hundreds of other games that were due for release in the same period as Metrico. The term is used to emphasize the fact that there are puzzle-elements and a certain degree of intensity integrated into the content of the game (Personal Communication, March 2013) 11 Infographic; ‘a visual representation of information or data, e.g. as a chart or diagram’. Source: Infographics are used in Metrico as an art form to both represent/symbolize something and to navigate through as a player (Personal communication, February 2013).


Metrico is the official title of this project. It is not finished yet and it remains an exploration for both the management and the interns to discover the full potential of this approach to game-play in its entirety. To summarize the basic facts of Metrico; Aspects of the environment in the game change when certain buttons are pushed on the PS Vita. The visual style of the game is based on infographics. There are also puzzle elements implemented in Metrico and the game has won an award for Best Design. It is also supported by Sony Computer Entertainment, who (as explained) pays a fixed amount of money for the completion and release of the game via their online PlayStation Store (T. Bink, Personal Communication, February 2013; US PlayStation Blog, August 2013). But what is not known? It is not known who the main character(s) in the game actually are. It is not known what the backgrounds of these main character(s) are. It is not known what the premise is for Metrico. It is not fully clear (to both the management and the interns) what elements of the game embody the word ‘action’ in its genre-description. Those are just some basic elements that are important for the marketing/communication aspects of this product. The fact that the game is also in an advanced stage of development and these things are not clear on an internal perspective is troubling. How can one expect that the target group is immediately going to perceive the game in the way that the management of Digital Dreams envisions it, when some things are not even clear for themselves (T. Bink, G. Nellen, Personal Communication, February 2013)? Emotional Selling Point/Engaging Selling Point 

Making the gamer part of an unprecedented world full of digits, shapes, figures and memories in which a plot (even though it is unknown what that plot is) full of mystery unravels (Van de Mortel, US PlayStation Blog, August 2013).

Input-morphing gameplay mechanic. To quote Digital Dreams’ Level Designer Roy van De Mortel via US PlayStation Blog from August 19; “In Metrico the player needs to traverse the game world, which is built from all sorts of infographics, like bar diagrams, pie charts, line graphs, etc. These infographics constantly change based on your actions, movements and input. It’s something we’ve never seen before, that’s why we conveniently dubbed this ‘Input Morphing’. And also, because you are morphing the entire game world with your input”.


Concepting procedure Aspects of the brand Digital Dreams To get the idea behind a concept crystal clear, it is connected to the term ‘vision’ (or ‘idea’). As Nijs and Peters state it; “A vision is a personal opinion, a way of seeing and perceiving an internal observation, foremost those of an artist, scientist, or designer. Someone with a vision is someone with a broad look, someone with a comprehensive or extraordinary insight.”(p. 81). The brand vision of Digital Dreams, as they state it on their website (and which is the one they want to continue with), is; “We like to experiment and do something we haven’t seen before, in every game we make. We try to reach the hard core as well as the casual game market by creating easier and less time consuming games, which possess powerful and emotionally rich interactive experiences none the less.” (Digital Dreams, 2013)

We know have the crystal clear vision of Digital Dreams in their own words. A logical and enriching next step is to further describe the brand Digital Dreams step by step (Boer & Welsing, 2006). And those crucial steps are about defining; brand vision, brand mission, brand values, brand personality, brand promise, and brand core concept. We already have the vision, so here are the other steps. Brand mission; ‘Create elegant and meaningful (game) experiences that inspire all people through originality’. (Creative Business Document Digital Dreams, 2012)

Brand values; Originality, inclusiveness, intensity, innovation, game-play orientation, emotion, experimenting, problem-solving (derived from the 7S-Model in the original research report)


Brand personality; New Dutch kid on the block, crossing boundaries, progressive, ambitious (Own perspective on the company after internal analysis).

Brand promise; ‘A different game every time’ (Creative Business Document, 2012)

Brand core concept; ‘Playful experiences’ (Digital Dreams, 2013)

Distinguishing factors All information that is stated above is valid (which is why there are numerous sources mentioned), but the idea is to expand on this information. Especially the brand core concept needs further elaboration. This is because Digital Dreams is barely trying to communicate that concept actively right now, since it is a very young company. The core concept is also not well applied and not well visible in all communication means of the company. Furthermore, a concept like; ‘playful experiences’ is definitely interpretable from multiple levels, but Digital Dreams is a video game developing company. ‘Playfulness’ is very obvious in that industry and the company needs to highlight the elements, or even just one crucial element, that is going to set them apart from their competition. These are the elements from the internal summary in the SWOT-analysis of the research report that stand out for Digital Dreams 1. They are optimistic problem-solvers 2. They are eager to experiment We can derive four distinctive words from those SWOT-points, namely; Optimistic, Problemsolving, eagerness, and experiment. These four words need to be explored elaborative to see what these words have to offer to their full stretch. In order to do that, we make a web for each word and think of all the words that we can associate with that, so we can link them together (see next two pages).


Word associations


The word associations have now been conducted to a certain perceivable extent. The hard step to make right now is to extract some word associations from the previous exercise that are in sync with the brand name ‘Digital Dreams’, the core values of that brand, and the industry in which the company finds itself; the video gaming industry. So we can line them up below and restrict the exercise to four preferable associations per word.








Alternate realities









The molding of Digital Dreams’ concept After the brand vision and the distinctive factors (derived from the 7S Model) have been established and explored, it logically follows that these core elements are translated into a concept, which is formulated into a powerful one-liner. The most important thing here is to pack the concept with crucial elements that apply to all layers of the company and its message. This issue is specifically a matter of trial and error. It is best to think up a whole range of one-liners, albeit good or bad ones. The reason for this is that among all of the one-liners that seem bad at first glance, they might lead to something else when reading through them a second time. With the input of the previously acquired data and the exercises that lead up to this exercise, below are the one-liners that were worth while writing down at the time. The best ones (in my opinion) are highlighted with the yellow marker. We like to experiment

Re-create the universe

Escape reality

Game-physics with a twist

We enter hyper reality

Think ahead

The world is changing

It’s all in your head

Redefine reality

There is a first time for every game

Give it some thought

Crossing over

Let it sink in

Enter new worlds

It ‘s not what you think

From one world to the next

Get your fix

Cracking the code


Discovering new dimensions

Beyond imagination Enter your subconscious Breaking and inventing Things will never be the same It never ends Universal appeal


The origin of creation Of course it is not just a matter of which one-liner sounds the most polished. It is, first and foremost, about finding a one-liner that lies at the core of the vision of the company. For clarity we state Digital Dreams’ vision again so we can make an assessment of that; “We like to experiment and do something we haven’t seen before, in every game we make. We try to reach the hard core as well as the casual game market by creating easier and less time consuming games, which possess powerful and emotionally rich interactive experiences none the less.” Now let us line up the possible candidates for potential one-liners from the previous exercise; 

We like to experiment

Escape reality

The world is changing

Thing will never be the same

The origin of creation

Discovering new dimensions

The one-liners marked in green definitely embody the core of Digital Dreams’ vision. We like to experiment is literally the first statement of the vision and the message of the company. Things will never be the same indicates Digital Dreams’ eagerness to do things that they have never seen before, promising a constantly changing perspective on game design. The last one, Discovering new dimensions, covers both the aspects of experimenting and doing things that they have never seen before. One aspect that we can add to the last one-liner is that it also explains that Digital Dreams is on an exploration mission for themselves. They are not exploring their identity, but rather exploring for new grounds to tap into. One thing that Discovering new dimensions has and the other one-liners definitely do not, is that it contains the word dimensions. Scientific American explains the phenomenon of dimensions as the following; “In everyday life the number of dimensions refers to the minimum number of measurements required to specify the position of an object, such as latitude, longitude and altitude. Implicit in this definition is that space is smooth and obeys the laws of classical physics.” (Scientific American, June 2008). For instance, the real world in which we live has three dimensions, namely; length, width, and depth. If we lived in a one-dimensional world, we would only have one location to pinpoint. Length, for example (Discovery Communications, 2011). 26

So we live in three dimensions. That is perceivable to us. But in scientific areas like cosmology, physics, and particularly string theory, it is often theorized that there could be more than three dimensions that are active. Our common senses just are not the right tool to comprehend that. As the Science & Technology Facility Council states it; “In science, it's considered bad form to just make stuff up for no good reason. But there are serious theoretical reasons for tinkering with the notion of extra dimensions. The world is certainly very different and strange at the sub-atomic scale, and our everyday assumptions of what is normal are a poor guide. In quantum mechanics, where scientists seek to comprehend the physics beneath the physical world, all kinds of weird things can be going on.” (Science & Technology Facility Council, 2013) Without getting too ‘science-geeky’ over this phenomenon, it is plausible to say that there are other dimensions present in actuality that we just have not been able to discover yet. This phenomenon runs (conceptually) parallel to the vision of Digital Dreams; they want to do something that they have not seen before, in every game they make. And discovering new possibilities is part of that. For Digital Dreams it is, of course, not science or cosmology (although it could be food for thought for a new game), but we perceive dimensions in our own world and there are quite plausibly dimensions that we have not even be able to tap into. This translates fluently to quite some of Digital Dreams’ core values; experimenting, innovation, problemsolving. Another reason why Discovering new dimensions is a good candidate for a concept is because the brand name is Digital Dreams. The word ‘dreams’ is also multi-faceted, as is the word ‘dimensions’. It can be simply defined as ‘a series of thoughts, images, and sensations occurring in a person’s mind during sleep’. The word could also be defined as ‘a cherished aspiration, ambition, or ideal’ (Oxford University Press, 2013). And every dream has a world in which it unfolds. Furthermore, dreams come in many ways, shapes and forms. They can be good, bad, disastrous, controllable, uncontrollable, shared with someone else close to you, wish-fulfilling, prophetic (futuristic), recurring, processing (a rehashing of the events of your day), extreme etc (Sullivan Walden, June 2010). Taking all this information into account, we get very close to completing the checklist of the seven ‘characteristics of strong (experience) concepts’. Just to run through them once again, this time as a literal checklist. Does the concept Discovering new dimensions fulfill the following requirements? 

(Experience) concepts distinguish themselves from ideas and themes by the presence of a strong, subjective, and distinctive vision – CHECK  the vision was


already in place before this concept book got started. It is also subjective, personal, and motivated. 

Strong concepts are meaningful, distinctive, have endurance, and are communicable – CHECK  The concept is translated from the core of Digital Dreams’ vision. It is also distinctive, because of the underlying notion of new experiences. Its endurance is notable from the logical argument that discovery is an ongoing principle, which means that it is applicable in all timelines. On top of that, there is- and has never been a time in which there was nothing left to discover. So that gives the concept endurance. The concept is also communicable because of its layered interpretation, but we will get to that further ahead in the concept book where it is demonstrated

Strong concepts are interpretable from multiple levels – CHECK  This has already been proven in the previous point, though I would also refer to the elaboration on the words ‘dimensions’ and ‘dreams’, which both come in many forms

Strong concepts mark themselves by actuality, ambivalence, and liberation – CHECK  We have already seen that the concept is actual by showing that it is at the core of Digital Dreams’ current vision and that it can also apply to different timelines. Furthermore, what is more ambivalent than the ability to apply the concept to personal experience, as well as subjects like cosmology and string theory? In other words; you cannot pinpoint the concept to just one specific field. Then the aspect of liberation; discovering is most definitely liberating, because it opens new doors to previously unknown possibilities. It broadens the scope in which we see things

Interpretation can be given to the authenticity on material, conceptual, contextual, and functional level – CHECK  Nothing is 100% authentic, but the use of this concept in the video gaming industry is quite plausibly not as transparently communicated in other places as in the way that we are attempting here. Contextual application and the functional level do not only lend itself for product development, but also for marketing purposes

Experience concepts loan their authenticity to the presence of an authentic (not invented) vision – CHECK  The big advantage for Digital Dreams is that there was no need to ‘invent’ a vision. The management of Digital Dreams was clear about the vision that they wanted to communicate up front and it bears a personal touch. That makes it authentic

Experience concepts arise by the integrated effort of the experience building blocks, based on a profound analysis of the integrated values of the target audience – CHECK  The profound analysis already took place while conducting the


initial research on the internal aspect of Digital Dreams (7S Model). The building blocks are there, though they still need work, since Digital Dreams is a fairly young company

So there we have it. The concept, formulated in a strong one-liner is;

Discovering New Dimensions The next step, in order to complement the purpose of the initial research, is to use this concept as a marketing tool fot the video game Metrico. It would be great if it fully and specifically spoke to Japanese PS Vita-gamers in order to maximize sales in Japan in the first quarter after the game’s market introduction. But a good concept is multi-interpretable and can therefore be executed with a high level of abstraction. A concept needs to be translatable to all the ‘experience’ building blocks of the company, which are; Communication, Physical environment, Personnel, Network, Products and packaging, and Identity. The Physical environment of the company is somewhat restricted to its headquarters in Utrecht, the Netherlands. However, the concept ‘Discovering New Dimensions’ is present in that building block, since it is located at the Dutch Game Garden, where dozens of other ambitious start-up companies, as well as experienced companies are located. Physical environment not only entails the office, but also other locations were the management and employees of the company are active. This has already been partly explained in the research proposal. The management of Digital Dreams took the risk with their lack of budget to go to the USA and promote Metrico over there. Another reason for going there is to build up a network. The management has also travelled to several locations in Europe, like London and Stockholm, for the same reasons. The company pursuits their own concept already when it comes to Physical Environment and Network. The personnel is obviously also linked to those building blocks. Another example in which the building block Personnel overlaps with the concept ‘Discovering New Dimensions’ is me. The management of Digital Dreams barely has any marketing communication experience and wish to put this principle to good use anyway. They did that by hiring me as an intern. Not only is it my job to do research in that field and consult, it is also my task to research a particular market that the management of Digital Dreams wants to enter, regardless of the odds. This market is Japan, and as my research has shown, that market is wildly different from that in Europe and the USA. These tasks allow me to step foot in an unknown area of mystery and it resulted in lots of discoveries. And since interns are also regarded as Personnel, that building block is also integrated with the concept. The companies’ identity is at the same time a result of 29

following through with their vision. The fact is that it might be the wished identity for them, but that does not mean that it is also the identity in which they are perceived. Digital Dreams has the advantage of being a relatively young company, which gives them a lot of room to still shape their Identity. They were not very well known in the gaming industry, so there is no need to devise a strategy by which they are going to change the perceived identity. A video game like Metrico is a Product that is based on the companies’ vision. They like to experiment and do something that they have never seen before. Metrico is a product of that ambition and it is demonstrated with their ‘input-morphing’ mechanic (see paragraph 5.3.2 in the research report). Whether or not the target audiences are going to receive, understand and be inspired by that vision via the concept is now very much reliant on the Packaging and Communication. These two principles go hand in hand, since communication also has a certain package. These two last principles are going to be demonstrated in the next and most practical step for realizing the concept. It is time to translate the concept Discovering New Dimensions into something visual.


Visual carriers of the concept ‘Discovering New Dimensions’

The concept is in this case applied to the marketing of the video game Metrico. All elements are visible, namely; the brand name, the product name, the concept itself, and also a run of the imagination with the concept. The image that is implemented at the top right corner of the box is a visual that is derived from in-game content of Metrico. That subtle blending of dimensions in this visual is used as a tool to both communicate the concept and to show the initial look of the video game. Metrico is going to be sold via PlayStation Store, which is a fully digital online purchasing platform. It is therefore a bit contradictory to apply the concept to specifically product packaging. That being said, this product packaging might spark some interest with the management of Digital Dreams to use it as a marketing tool. There are cases where hardcopy products of games or try-out versions of games are handed out at events that revolve around video games, even though a lot of those games are only going to be made available by digital 31

platforms. This might be a potential idea for Digital Dreams as a strategic marketing move. Furthermore, this concept art is first and foremost designed to show how the concept can be applied on multiple levels. This is also the purpose of the following concept art.

This example of applying the concept shows a sense of timelessness. I do not know at how young the management of Digital Dreams is willing to aim for regarding target audiences. That was never discussed. Nevertheless, this visual also depicts the curiosity of a child. A child of this age already embodies a will to learn and discover new things as it strives to get familiar with the world (his/her new dimension). That level of abstraction combined with the emphasis of Digital Dreams’ concept is another demonstration of multi-interpretable perception.


This example of visualizing the concept is literally derived from the exercise with the word associations. It was quite obvious that words like physics, cosmology, and science were directly applicable to the concept. The word ‘dimensions’ already has a firm establishment in those areas, which makes the transition in a visual concept quite smooth. The cosmology-aspect is applied to the image in the screen of the PS Vita and the silhouette from the original logo of Digital Dreams is literally falling into that new dimension.


This particular visualization has more to do with the part of Digital Dreams’ vision that says that they want to make something that they have never seen before. A booklet that accompanies box art for games is nothing new, but not as it is depicted in this image. The underlying message is that products made by Digital Dreams indeed offer something that they have never seen before. In this image it is depicted with cosmic dust, which again relates to ‘new dimensions’.



This concept book has been the result of following conclusions from the research and applying creative methods to handle that information and mold it into something that sets Digital Dreams apart from their competition. The company now has an embodiment of their brand and a whole creative exploration of that. Besides that, the company now also has a multi-faceted concept which provides guidelines for directing all business approaches and all their marketing communication. Finally, the company also has examples of visualizations of their new concept. The management of Digital Dreams could choose to apply this or to use it as incentives for new creative ideas. All in all, it has been proven to fit the necessary requirements and it is therefore a solid concept.

End of the concept book



Boer, R., Welsing, C., (2006) Als jij een merk zou zijn. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Pearson Education Benelux Digital Dreams (2012). Creative Business Document Digital Dreams 2012 Digital Dreams (2013). About Digital Dreams. Retrieved from Discovery Communications (2011). What are the three dimensions?. Retrieved from Dutch Game Garden (2013). Wat Doen Wij?. Retrieved from Nijs, D., Peter, F., (2002). Imagineering: Het creĂŤren van beleveniswerelden. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Boom Oxford University Press (2013). Definition of dream in English. Retrieved from Science and Technology Facilities Council (2013). Are there other dimensions?. Retrieved from Scientific American (25 June 2008). What is a Dimension Anyway?. Retrieved from Sullivan Walden, K., (9 June 2010). The 8 Most Common Types of Dreams -- And What They Mean. Retrieved from 36

Syal Consult (February, 2011). “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower�. Retrieved from


Concept book Digital Dreams