Why spending a lot of time in the pub is just part of the job

Bell-Fruit Group, Alastair Harris, creative director, Prismatic
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Alastair Harris, creative director, Bell-Fruit Group, explains Prismatic’s journey from great concept to outstanding performer and where the balance lies between science and intuition in game design.

How do you approach the task of designing for a pub demographic?

The pub represents a complex retail environment populated by a cross-section of society.It’s a moving feast with pubs attracting a different audience based on the day of the week and the time of day. This is where terminals come into their own and why Prismatic is performing so well and, as a consequence attracting so much attention from operators and PubCos alike. The job of games developers is to cater for all of the various segments of the machine player base and in a very progressive sense explore ways of bringing new and lapsed players to the game. My function as Creative Director is to take a holistic view and one of the terms we refer to a lot is the ‘DNA of the game pack’, which encompasses the diversity of the offering,the aesthetics of cabinet,the size and the definition of the monitors all of which come together and contribute to the overall quality of the entertainment experience that we are offering. It’s a complex process and a big challenge which I am delighted the teams at each of Novomatic UK’s five content houses have risen to.

How scientific is the process or is it more about intuition?

It’s a mixture of the two.If there was a simple equation that resulted in the creation of a great game each and every time,then everyone would be able to do it and Novomatic UK would not have the huge competitive edge that it enjoys. Our design teams bring a wealth of knowledge, insight and experience to the task which is where the intuition comes in but there are also certain processes that you have to go through in order to deliver a great game.But do we have a game design version of Coca-Cola’s secret formula? Quite possibly!

The Prismatic draws on the expertise of five design houses, how important is it to approach game creation from totally different perspectives?

It’s absolutely essential and the Group is in a unique position in this respect. While we do bring the design teams together on occasions throughout the year to dis- cuss the DNA of the game menus, they don’t sit in or share the same office and to a large extent they work separately. This helps to ensure the games that go on the menu are fresh and unique and cater for distinct audiences. The Prismatic is all about originality and diversity, which once again, are big parts of its appeal.

How and where do games creators get their inspiration?

Multiple sources (and if there was one place I went to for ideas I wouldn’t go public on it!). It’s my job,so I’m constantly thinking about facets of game creation. I spend a lot of time people watching, I spend a lot of time in pub environments and I’m surrounded by like minded people to bounce ideas off. Every one is wired slightly differently and it’s about developing the right chemistry to produce that creative energy or spark of inspiration that engages with players.

How are you approaching the big challenges such as creating games for Generation Z?

We’ve had a special ProjectTeam working on this particular challenge alongside many other challenges for some time.Game design is about prempting the big changes taking place in society and not playing catch-up. The ability to think ahead and set the pace provides our customers with a significant competitive advantage. It’s a big benefit of partnering with Novomatic UK.

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