Claire Waring, executive creative director at R/GA Australia is representing Australia on the Cannes Entertainment Lions for Gaming jury. Waring, along with most of the other Australian and NZ jurors writes exclusively for CB.
Day 1: The inaugural gaming jury meet IRL
Nothing says Cannes like rosé on tap at breakfast (yep, it’s a thing), but that will have to wait as tomorrow I head into two days of debate on the inaugural gaming category.
Tonight I met the jury in person for the first time. It’s a brilliantly diverse mix of agency creatives and gaming experts with Mojang, Riot games, Octopus & Whale, Google and more represented. We might all come from different parts of the world, but all of us are feeling the pressure of being the inaugural Gaming Jury. There’s a sense that it’s up to us to set the bar for what is, if current stats are anything to go by, it’s going to be one of the biggest categories of the future.
Day 2: Gaming shortlist
After ten hours in a very small, dark room, today we emerged with the first ever gaming shortlist. As with every jury experience I’ve had, the really great work rose to the surface quickly. Much of today’s debate was about pieces a little further down the list. This Jury is thorough, diving into cultural context and pulling up anything that perpetuates stereotypes or smells of scam. I loved the often opposing points of view and range of opinions, though one point seems unanimous – brands that take time to really understand the mindset of gamers to create culturally relevant work are standing out.
Biggest learning? In agency many a great idea dies because it just doesn’t answer the brief. At Cannes, great entries die because they don’t fit the category description and that’s pretty heartbreaking for jurors.
But today wasn’t without its laughs, at one point a jury member exclaimed: “Come on, we’ve all sent stuff into space – right!?”
Ummm no, can’t say that I have! Something to work on for next year?
Day 3: The Metal
As we begin the final day of judging, it’s clear that gaming is becoming a canvas for creativity. Tools like maps and mods have not only opened the door for players to create, we’re seeing brands take advantage of these tools too.
This democratisation of gaming is really exciting but, creatives beware, the usual rules of advertising do not apply. Anything intrusive or perceived as “ad-ish” is met with scepticism by this community and also by this jury. We looked for work that not only delivered a brand message, but also enhanced the player experience. Creativity that puts players at the heart of an idea. That doesn’t have to mean altering gameplay to deliver a message – this audience are in an entertainment mindset and brands that understood this and brought entertainment to the table across the whole gaming universe received a great reception.
Gaming culture is becoming mainstream and as an industry that has excelled in understanding, influencing and even creating culture. This is a space we should all be thinking about more.
I’ve loved every minute of judging this category, sitting side-by-side with gaming experts and deep diving into the psyche of gamers. The best part of judging is always the debate and the insight from other jurors – seeing the work through their cultural lens or expertise. This jury was all that and then some.
What a treat, thank you Cannes. Pass me the rosé.