As a lifelong gamer I’m thrilled to say I’ve spent the last 14 years working with the blue hedgehog and Italian plumber.
I was lucky enough to be involved from day one. Our challenge: create a game where three totally different worlds could coexist: Mario’s, Sonic’s and the world of the internationally revered Olympic Games.
First off, the game needed a narrative. Why would these two iconic characters from rival franchises and consoles be visiting the Olympic Games together? A race made perfect sense.
Then we needed a natural way to interweave some Olympic core values into the game – without compromising on excitement. One of the on-going aims of the Olympic committee is to educate younger generations about the Olympic Games. Watching my son playing a video game, inspiration struck. The loading screens between gameplay is often utilised to add story context or to show which button combos can be used for different outcomes. My idea: use the intermittent loading screens to have Sonic and Mario providing gamers with Olympic Trivia.
I pitched the idea to my bosses, Sega, Nintendo and eventually the Olympic Committee who all loved the approach. For the first year 2008 it started as a mode within the game and became a staple feature woven through the games, still used to this day.
It’s been surreal to be so involved in a part of gaming history.
Each game I produced for this hybrid franchise required a fluent understanding of the visual language of the different brands. I leaned how to managing the conflicting interests, aims and values of three very different brands to create something that felt like a single gaming world. It also gave me plenty opportunities to act as the translator between stakeholders, external publishes and developers.
Mario and Sonic Franchise