Jérémy Godefroid first completed his undergraduate studies in media design and video game production at the Danmarks Designskole (Denmark) before joining L’École de design Nantes Atlantique to do a Master’s program in Interaction Design. He graduated from the school in 2007 and flew off to Japan for a VIE (International Volunteer Program) in Orange Labs Tokyo. After 7 years spent in Japan as a service and IxD designer in R&D in a multinational, he made the decision to move to agency-based design. To do this, he decided to join international agency USTWO. Today, he is part of the Malmö team in Sweden and has participated in, amongst other things, the Play-Doh TOUCH Shape to Life Studio project. This game, available free of charge on Apple store, lets players scan their PlahDoh “creatures” using their smartphone or tablet, and then make their creations move around in a digital world. This little 3D world can be enhanced by introducing other elements that the players have made out of PlayDoh. Play-Doh TOUCH lets players give free reign to their imagination, experimenting and inventing their own stories in worlds of their own making.
You can also purchase a physical version of the game, available exclusively in Apple Store. The game box contains character molds and stamps which, once digitalized, unblock new worlds and endow your creations with unique powers. Of course, it is still possible to play with your “creatures” free of charge. The game combines a manual and creative activity with the appeal of the technological world in which your creation can be kept, brought to life and animated. A small revolution in the world of creative activities which was recently rewarded at CES 2017 in Las Vegas with the IHS Markit innovation awards and the KAPI awards 2017.
Our last interview goes back nearly 4 years. What’s changed for you on the professional front?
So many things! I’m in a new country (Sweden), so I’m learning a new language and culture. Initially, I had serious doubts about leaving Japan, a country literally overflowing with creative energy, to come back to a Europe that I remembered as being too safe, too formulaic and too timid. But it was no accident that I chose Sweden and, by extension, Scandinavia. I know that digital culture is really big here and has been an integral part of everyday life for much longer than the rest of Europe. That helped alleviate the culture shock.
I also had to adapt to agency-based design with its much tighter deadlines and I had to be even more multi-disciplinary. I have some new responsibilities here mostly due to the fact that I’ve gone from junior to senior designer, but also because I have a lot more contact with the clients, something which only happened very occasionally in R&D. Like it or not, I’ve had to get used to living with the stress inherent in agencies and the creative world.
It’s not all bad, quite the contrary, and each day I find myself trying new things, new methods and/or techniques, and therefore learning a lot. I’ve been in Sweden for three years now and the time has flown by.
You’ve recently been involved in developing a game for Hasbro’s 60th anniversary, more specifically for Play-Doh in partnership with Apple. Two top brands which don’t need an introduction. It’s an unusual challenge to have to make playdoh high-tech.
How the project was born?
An unusual challenge indeed! Looking back, that’s precisely what it was. Actually, it really reminded me of my time at L’École de design Nantes Atlantique when we had to create video games. But what an experience! It was really exciting and also a lot of fun to successfully bring our creations to life and see them moving around. And I think that is definitely the best thing about it. Unfortunately, I can’t give away any more details, but I think that if you try the game you’ll see what I mean.
What role did you play in its development?
In this project I was lead visual, UI & UX designer. game-play (playability, user experience, interactions, etc.), the visual creation of the graphic elements specific to the interface, and I also oversaw and created everything to do with the esthetics of the game (concept art, CGFX, motion, etc.).
What was your biggest challenge in successfully completing the project?
There were many, but if I had to choose one I would say learning to get to grips with new software and techniques whilst having to produce high quality content in a very tight timeframe. Not being able to take the time to experiment, to make mistakes, use trial and error and iterate was a real challenge from start to finish. On the other hand, the knowledge, know-how and human ties formed were immense.
What kind of projects would you like to work on next?
Working in video games and for such prestigious clients is a childhood dream come true as it were, but it also showed me how much of a challenge it can be, the non-stop stress and all the compromises that have to be made. In hindsight, I think that from now on I’d rather work for the studio on the Own-IP products (designed and self-financed by us) and have more artistic and creative freedom like I did just before Play-Doh with Pause.
On the other hand, this experience has also made me want to pass on all this knowledge acquired in Japan and here and, why not, in the near future devote some of my time to teaching.
What made you choose Sweden as your second host country?
I wanted to come back to Europe, have a change of scenery, discover some new things and, at the time, coming back to France was not an option. I didn’t really think too hard about it, I just wanted a new challenge. Things are very different here. I left an incredibly hierarchical country to discover quite the opposite. A flat structure: one representative for each discipline (tech/design/coach), a studio director and the rest. You try to share out responsibilities and tasks depending on the employees - what they like, their interests and of course their talents. I can take on more responsibility if I want, like PO (project owner) and designer. It’s just another kind of system with its advantages and disadvantages.
I’ve also discovered a role that I wasn’t familiar with before, that of coach. Here, every team/project has one in its ranks. The coaches can facilitate communication with the client and organize workshops or brainstorming sessions together with the designers. In short, they provide an additional structure or methodology, and are there to support the PO. But they’re also there for the other team members if they have any problems. Finally, another thing I really appreciated is the gender equality in Sweden, both at work and in everyday life.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
I haven’t got the faintest idea! Maybe teaching, or designing in a multinational or an agency? Or doing something with friends? Maybe in France or somewhere else? I’ll go wherever it feels right, somewhere I can carry on learning and progressing.