The development of a business card

Some may wish to say this story is way beyond the scope of what its story matter should entitle. I say this story is the end-point of a development where I get to speak about it, its intentions and results. It’s about a business card, but it’s just as much about design and development (note that there’s no “game” in those two words).

The problem I wanted to solve was this: Game Expo “GameX” was approaching, as well as the industry summit Nordic Game Stockholm Summit, and I wanted to gain new contacts and make an impression. I wanted the impression to be remembered and show that I was a clever designer. I also wanted it to have a professional quality.

So I went googling for creative business cards (here’s one result, here’s another). However, a new problem arises. Game design is a much more abstract ability than, say, a dentist. We don’t usually have this kind of artefact tightly associated to our work. We make experiences!

So the first draft to be used was trying to draw lines on a card that when folded could be a paper plane. However, that plan had some deep flaws. The paper could not be allowed to be cut, or I’d lose important space, and it would have to fly well or the impression would be “creative but bad design”. I wanted it to be “clever and smart design”. I went back to the drawing board, and suddenly – I found out – a standard playing card! It’s a card, it has lots of symbols and it is made to create games. Just the associations I wanted! A first draft was made in photoshop. The picture was based on a photo taken during Game Dev project 2, although there were zits and stuff on my face and I didn’t want that on a biz-card. So I decided to draw a paint over. All I had for this picture was mouse and key board.

I found the angry face very funny and wished to stick with it. I had decided to use references to this blog and my LinkedIn-profile as well as an e-mail address so people could contact me. I left out my phone number, as I wanted to use these cards quite awhile and wasn’t sure how much longer I would be able to have my current phone and number. So, with that said, I went to facebook for feedback. I posted it in Swedish and only later realized this was a good move to create different test groups. The people who’ve replied have had their pictures edited and their last names removed to protect them (I wouldn’t want *my* name and picture on the ‘net without my permission, after all). I’ve also made them thumbnail-small so the post doesn’t get super-long.

Basically, the feedback was incredibly focused on the picture smiling or not and that it should be cleaner. Right, back to photoshop and edit it. To make more space without cutting information or ruining the symmetry, I simply decided to make the information smaller. Here’s the next iteration:

And back to facebook to get feedback on this new iteration. It should be noted that I went back-and-forth like this on purpose. It was one of the ways I applied game development methods on something outside game development, and also so that the card would better reflect some game development skills. And here’s the feedback on the second iteration:

This feedback send me way back. A phone number had to be added – that is, more info on the same space – and the picture had to pretty much be redone from scratch and reach a higher level than the simpler one. The question was also raised as to what should be done with the card’s back-side as it was great for notes. My intention had been to put a picture like the back-side of a card there to improve the metaphor of a playing card. So I had to make space for notes somehow. I figured I would try a foldable card, so I could also get some good merits in there to further say “I’m awesome, work with me!”. I also got some feedback about changing the card’s colour from spades to clubs as the latter implies success and money.

For the newer picture, I wanted to study some playing cards to see what symbols the higher card – especially the Jack – utilized. I found a spire and some fancy clothing, and figured I should do the same but with game development symbols. I settled on playing cards and a game pad and started taking reference photos. I won’t upload them here, they didn’t turn out any good. I found myself either looking menace or angry, and I wanted neither. So, to more quickly be able to change my facial expression, I made another paint over in photoshop. This time I plugged in a wacom-tablet and made sure to do the drawing properly and with detail. Here’s how it turned out:

And back to facebook for feedback on iteration 3.The feeling I got from this was that perhaps I’d used the feedback loop too much. People on facebook isn’t there to be my testers, and doing too many iterations might annoy people. Some expressed irritation about the whole idea and wanted me to simply print “a standard business card” because “there’s a reason they look like this” (an argument I never buy into without explanation).

Anyway, I found out that the number didn’t have an international prefix and that – again – the facial expression got a lot of focus. I simply changed this “smile” by removing the teeth. I also removed the inside of the folder and reduced the alpha of the card’s backside to allow notes back there. Final card then looked like this:

And the results? The people over at GameX and Nordic Game Stockholm Summit seemed to love it! It got a lot of praise and a few by-standers wanted one just because it looked so cool. Generally, I’ve only received positive reactions to it and I’m sure they’ll keep it long enough for me to add them to LinkedIn or get in contact.

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