When Wargaming Europe SAS wanted to promote its combat-related video games on the battleground of Gamescom 2015, the company and its exhibit designers at The Trade Group turned to WWII military histories and period movies for inspiration. Through its research, The Trade Group realized that long before high-tech tools like GPS guided soldiers with pinpoint precision, topographical maps played a crucial role in armies' success.
"The 1940s soldier relied heavily on this piece of paper to navigate unfamiliar terrain, and treated it like religious scripture," said Michael Graziani, The Trade Group's vice president of design. Thus, Wargaming derived inspiration from topographical maps whose serpentine contour lines became the genesis of an exhibit that Exhibit Design Awards judges called "a walled-off world unto itself."
Wargaming Europe SAS created a booth inspired by old-style topographical maps. LED panels inserted in the walls generated supersized versions of the maps' signature contour lines, and lighted pathways created by LED ropes in the floor guided guests toward 50 gaming stations.
The 7,742-square-foot booth comprised 79-foot-long walls and rose nearly three stories tall. Near one entry point, attendees passed under a massive screen on which a truss-mounted laser projected animated turquoise topographical-like lines. Beyond the screen, visitors entered a disorienting terrain enveloped by towering interior walls covered by black tensioned fabric and housing frosted acrylic panels with LEDs.
The artifice was intensified by customized flooring with LED edge lighting around its perimeter, as well as hundreds of embedded LED lights, which formed illuminated pathways to some of the exhibit's 50 gaming stations. While hundreds of guests engaged in mortal combat on the four games available for play, hundreds more boogied to hourly performances by dancers attired in WWII-period outfits.
"In war, there is but one favorable moment," Napoleon said, "and the great art is to seize it." Wargaming seized its moment by occupying Gamescom with a booth that captured the hearts and minds of thousands.