Tag Archives: character design

Twisted lamb merges fashion and gaming

Why does one of the leading game companies in the world decide to let a fashion stylist design their game characters?

Being two very different industries, fashion and games rarely intersect as they operate on separate markets. With household tech taking giant strides forward in terms of complexity as well as availability – the demand for games or gamified products increased. This likely resulted in a dual effect – the game industry, usually perceived as conservative began to open its doors to new influences.

One of the first to enter those very doors was Mary Lee, fashion stylist and creative director of renowned fashion blog Twisted Lamb. Her distinct and peculiar style has attracted clients such as Kanye West and Nicola Formichetti and could be described as a flirt with alternative culture as well as goth and tribal aesthetics – a visual expression she was later given the chance to transfer to game characters working with titles as Eve Online and World of Darkness together with Icelandic CCP games.

You were handpicked from one of the leading multiplayer companies in the world, how come they chose to work with a fashion stylist?

-CCP Games wanted to create virtual assets to sell in the game and for the players to have options for their characters. it was a bold step and very ahead of its time. They brought in myself to create current and futuristic virtual collections and to merge fashion and gaming together.

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What was your role working with their games, how much influence did you have on the production as a whole?

-I worked with a team of illustrators in Iceland and Atlanta to create the digital collections. We would create separate collections based on the type of vampire clan. For example the Brujah are very punk so we tailored outfits to them while the Tremere are rich and high end so we created clothes that would fit their lifestyle. 

How did the project actually come together, where there any culture clashes?

-The project turned out beautifully but the concept for the gaming world a bit ahead of itself. We found that many players were resistant to adopt the virtual clothing aspect.

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Tremere.SacrificialLambSome years ago Nicola Formichetti, close collaborator with Lady Gaga and former Creative Director of fashion house Mugler launched a project with the very same company, CCP games in which he sought to bridge the gap between fashion and the digital world. A digital replica of fashion model Rick Genest also known as “Zombie boy” was recreated as a life size avatar on a virtual catwalk, specially designed for a pop up store on New York Fashion week. A fashion experiment between digital and physical worlds in which Mary Lee worked as the producer, a project that created quite a buzz in the fashion industry.

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How was the collaboration perceived from the game industry, any aftermath?

The gaming industry loved this project! The aftermath was all positive and it was the beginning of all fashion/gaming collaborations. 

Back then Nicola Formichetti claimed that virtual fashion will become a core part of the fashion industry. Do you see that happening?

-Absolutely. This is just the beginning.

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Note: CCP title World of Darkness was unfortunately never released. However, with Paradox Interactive recently acquiring the rights to the World of Darkness property and its assets, a wave of expectation has swept across the hordes of excited fans for a continuation of the popular franchise.

Twisted Lamb 

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What fashion can learn from character customization

Customizable characters or the ability to create your very own avatar is a well known element in video games. Major game studios are even creating customization interfaces that are reminiscent of a real world fitting room including the ability to pick characteristics such as eye colour, skin tone and hair style.

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The importance of identification has positioned character customization as a component for game studios with graphic ambitions. It has also raised the issue of lack of diversity in an industry with reputation to only be representing white men as has historically been the only character option to choose from. Insomniac games is one of the studios rebelling against that norm in their action game Sunset Overdrive. In it, the players are given the option of playable female character as well as customization options that are unrelated to gender. It points out the importance of identification in recreating yourself digitally: you not only have the possibility to represent your physical world self, but who you want to be or, even let your imagination take you to a new digital self.

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In Bungie’s Destiny as well as BioWare’s fantasy title Dragon age: Inquisition, the player can choose his or her appearance with high level of detail in everything from race, gender and class to face features. As computer graphics have advanced into close in on photorealism, the gaps in implementation have decreased. The type of self-visualizing which has so far only been used for character design is now of interest when we digitize our lives for different kinds of services.

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Fashion ecommerce is constantly looking for new visualization tools to provide stunning digital experiences with technology used by game artists. 3D content such as creating personal avatars, virtually trying on 3D rendered garments or customizing products are services now popping up globally to bring us new ways of living our digital lives. The skillset of a CG artist is suddenly pure gold in a new fashion landscape. As shown by the advances of self-visualisation in gaming we will most likely see great innovations in the near future at this very intersection, taking the shown examples out of their original context. When it comes to visual experiences fashion has everything to learn from game art and digital storytelling.

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Also read about the work of Joseph Cross and Chris Wells