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One Tango Studio’s Alvaro Gonzalez takes us inside his work on the AR experience, Ghostbusters Afterlife ScARe.
Alvaro – it’s great to connect. You’re the founder of One Tango Studio, an entertainment development studio. Talk us through what led you to launch the firm.
Seven years ago, my passion for games and toy design pushed me to found One Tango Studio, a company dedicated to entertainment product development. I consider myself a lifelong citizen of design land and One Tango Studio helped me formalise that into a viable business.
And in terms of products, what sorts of things do you help create?
At One Tango Studio we work with passion and love on all sorts of entertainment products – from video games, physical toys and TV shows, to Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and now Web3 experiences.
“Take a peek at what’s happening in South America and help us build bridges. There is a creative revolution happening here.”
It’s all about finding the best platform for the right idea and not the other way around. This ‘Design Thinking’ approach pushed us to find and work with the best people in their field from all around the world, from Portugal to Nigeria, from US to Russia, to get the best results.
Speaking of globetrotting, you’re based in Uruguay. Does being based in Latin America impact how and who you work with?
Well, our biggest challenge today as a Latin American company is connecting and getting noticed by the right executives to support and invest in the right projects. Luckily, thanks to pages like Mojo Nation, Brands Untapped and outstanding friends from the industry, that has become easier.
However, I encourage all my US and European fellows to take a peek at what’s happening in South America and help us build bridges. There is a creative revolution happening here thriving of unique and creative ideas.
Let’s dive into an example of that creative revolution in action – your work on the Ghostbusters Afterlife ScARe app game. For anyone yet to give it a go, how would you describe it?
Ghostbusters Afterlife ScARe is an action-story driven mobile game available for iOS and Android that uses the augmented reality technology from modern smartphones as the gaming platform where the experience plays.
This game was released at the same time as the movie Ghostbusters: Afterlife, becoming a real schedule and brand management challenge.
I can imagine. It looks great though; why do you think Ghostbusters proved a neat fit for an AR experience?
As the Director and Co-Designer of the game, I pushed to have a game design that represented what makes the brand unique and successful. After an intense exploration – we were working with a hard deadline here! – I came up with four core concepts: comedy, tension, surprise and action. With every prototype, I realised the sole qualities of AR technology empowered those concepts.
In what way?
AR let us build a personal experience, where its natural immersion enhanced the tension, surprise and action of it. There’s no other technology that can mirror the disrespectful, arrogant, surprising and uniqueness of a Ghostbusters ghost.
AR proved a good fit for those four Ghostbusters-focused concepts – comedy, tension, surprise and action. Outside of Ghostbusters, what do brands need to have in order to thrive in AR?
First you need to get clarity on what you want to communicate and then evaluate if AR is the best fit. AR is a great tool to enhance some ideas but could be very harmful to communicate others. To me, success relies on using the right tool for the right purpose… In other words, don’t use a hammer to tighten a screw!
Absolutely; it has to be an authentic fit.
Yes… Don’t get pushed or seduced by trends. Stay firm and respect your brand! I know sometimes executives want to hear magical solutions, but they don’t exist. Follow the concept development process and always put the idea over the technology.
“AR let us build a personal experience; no other technology can mirror the disrespectful, arrogant, surprising and uniqueness of a Ghostbusters ghost.”
Good advice. Do you think it’s exclusively character and entertainment brands that prove the best fit for AR? Or could brands from, say, the food and drink space do exciting things here?
Definitely… AR can be very powerful. I would always recommend exploring the idea of making a spin-off of the main brand’s narrative. The AR makes the experience so personal and so attached, that when becoming a protagonist, you significantly improve the concepts behind the brand. This also applies to other kinds of IP, where you also open the door to extremely viral and personal content.
Putting AR to one side for a moment, what other technologies should brand owners be keeping an eye on right now?
Web3, 100%. This is to me the real future, beyond AR and VR. It is true that it’s still hard to dig into, with rusty UX and indecipherable acronyms, but it’s slowly improving – especially with revolutionary projects like Avalanche. It’s also true that we are still understanding what can be done with it. However, there’s already a lot of room for innovation to be performed across all industries.
Web3 will become the new internet, touching every aspect of our lives. As creators we need to learn from the past. We have the responsibility to add value to people and not to take it away from them.
“Don’t get pushed or seduced by trends. Stay firm and respect your brand!”
As new projects emerge in the upcoming years, a lot of ethical and philosophical discussions will emerge for good. As Chris Crawford states when talking about interactive storytelling: ‘It should be about people not things.’ The same applies to Web3.
You’re clearly passionate about innovating with brands Alvaro. What element of working with brands do you most enjoy?
It’s always an absolute pleasure to work with brands. There is something about digging into their core concepts and understanding their fundamentals that appeals to me. Sometimes I feel like an archaeologist, understanding their past to help build their future.
Speaking of archaeology, I’ll stop digging soon! One last question: What fuels creativity for you… And what kills it!?
Being curious about this world fuels my creativity and any glimpse of certainty about it kills it.
Nice answer! Alvaro, this has been great. Thanks for taking the time.
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