The Art of Fun: A Conversation With Vicky Tamaru
I got a chance to catch up with Vicky Tamaru, co-founder of Plexipixel, speaker at this year’s MarketMix event, lover of fun, french fries and creating engaging experiences for brands and their consumers.
Upon entering the Plexipixel space, I was greeted with friendly but busy faces and similarly decorated walls. Vicky popped her head out from her office and, with a warm and welcoming smile, recommended a lunch spot that “most made her laugh.” Luckily for me, she did not disappoint on that front.
A short while later, we scanned a restaurant menu boasting a font that warranted Comic Sans style ridicule and a buffet that promised the world’s most delicious heart attack. From her restaurant choice to her infectious sense of humor, I was delighted to discover that Vicky is an extremely lively and youthful personality. Vicky has been involved in the gaming world since the early 1970’s; from playing Space Invaders to “chatting online before the interwebs were even invented”, she helped bring geek chic to the cultural forefront. As a design and tech enthusiast, she is a proponent of fun for everyone and is heavily involved in the world of gamification, advertainment, and unexpectedly sticky brand play™. We immediately connected on the gaming front when she mentioned her addiction to casual cake-baking games, “I realized one day, I could have actually baked a cake instead of playing the game,” she admitted.
A decade ago she founded Plexipixel with her husband, Matt. “We fought two-thirds of the time and worked one-third of the time,” she said with a laugh. That one-third turned into a highly successful experience design agency responsible for the design and development of websites, games, and applications for multi-national clients. To name a few: Pokémon, Microsoft, Adidas, and Whole Foods. The couple has turned their dream of working with people who inspire them into an impressive portfolio of work that stands out in the interactive marketing world.
An understanding of what makes real life interactions so compelling is important to create great interactive experiences, and Vicky has an innate grasp on her audience. “Women seem to enjoy more task-oriented games, while men seem to enjoy the bragging rights of an adventure,” she mused. True, recent studies have claimed innate cerebral differences between the sexes in the gaming sphere, with men exhibiting greater activation in the area of the brain associated with reward and addiction. Regardless of the gender of her audience, her interest in gamification provides the user more engaging content and creates a more loyal fan base for brands.
At this year’s MarketMix, Vicky plans to discuss gamification with the help of Joey MacArthur, Senior Producer at the Pokémon Company International. The hour promises to be a riveting account of her take on interacting with consumers beyond the classic market-speak, and what it takes to provide relevant interaction to consumers and clients alike. Those in attendance should expect surprises from this creatively inclined pair.
You can follow Plexipixel on Twitter here. Register for MarketMix 2012 here.