A Website that is a bit naughty and a bit cute -Exclusive Interview with Designer of the “GAMA25 Online Exhibition” Website: Lee Ming

“Stuck on a Level, Beat that Level: GAMA25 Online Exhibition” was officially launched online in November. The website created a buzz immediately after the launch. Cute and retro dot matrix visuals immediately pop into view right as you connect to the site. It transports the visitor on a time machine to take a journey back to the past time. The person designing this website behind is the founder and Creative Director of “Block Studio” – Lee Ming. He set the perfect stage for the 25-year-old Gamania, making the online exhibition an adventure that traverses time and space. It recalls one’s memory, allowing the visitors to see themselves, the past, and the present with Gamania by their sides.

Adding Diverse Elements to Make the Website Stand Out

Lee’s creations have already swept the daily lives of the public with designs for the 29th Golden Melody Awards, Cook the Vibe, Taiwan Research Design Institute and other websites. He believes that web design should be more than just communicating information. By releasing his bold creativity, he plays with all kinds of possibilities in animation, interaction, design, information delivery, and interface visuals in his works. Which element is the key component? Lee Ming smiles and answers that every element is important. The most suitable packaging methods must be created by adapting to the customer’s characteristics and needs, but he always gives himself the challenge to make his creation cooler, more interesting, and stand out among the huge sea of websites online.

When speaking of the first collaboration with Gamania, Lee says that he and his colleagues were very excited. Despite being so busy that he doesn’t have time for playing games now, he was a total “Lineage” fan in junior high. In these years, he has seen that Gamania not only focuses on gaming, but also expands into e-commerce, media, lifestyle, and arts, creating an endless amount of fun. The company is moving towards more stylish visual designs, which is why he has long since been secretly looking forward to collaboration with Gamania for a chance to showcase the creations in his mind.

Design an Online Exhibition with a Sense of Time

After many discussions, Lee Ming’s team and Gamania decided to play with the “dot matrix” visual to capture the spirit of GAMA25. He made time the core element of the design and continued to list several keywords of Gamania’s characteristics, including: tolerance, innovation, change, and fun. Then, he blended those traits into the retro desktop form, adding on special effects, screen windows, and unit icons such as: My Computer, Network Neighborhood, My Favorites, and others. Entering in the page is like you would log in to an old computer 25 years ago. The website is full of creativity as it shows you the path taken by a computer owner. Meanwhile, it perfectly expands the ambiance of the exhibition by resonating with the corporate promo film “GAMA25, Let’s Beat this Level”, the behind-the-scenes video, and other cultural issues of the times. The promo video “Gamania25, Let’s Beat this Level” was directed by Yang Li-chou and the film’s music was produced by musician Abao (Aljenljeng).

“The concept of an online exhibition has always existed, but the development has been accelerated in the global market this year due to the pandemic.” Lee shares with us that the presentation of an actual exhibition is often limited by the venue, the time, and the distance. However, web design is able to experiment on various combinations, such as with a 3D setting, VR and video. It draws the viewer closer by interaction and images. The GAMA25 online exhibition website has both features of the immersive experience and the open lateral browse. It places emphasis on user interaction. Lee says “Every step on the GAMA25 online exhibition website has its meaning. First, the visitor will get a sense of the visual ambiance and the layout of the narrative. Then, the visitor is drawn to the image layers. There will be many surprises and a smooth flow during this process, in which people will find out that the website is a bit naughty and a bit cute (smiling).”

Website Highlights vs. Easter Eggs  the Web Designer Reveals All!

The first thing that appears in front of the visitor is a setup that Lee Ming really likes. He converted the website loading program into the startup screen of a DOS operating system, white text over a black background. The screen is also communicating a message that Gamania wants to tell everyone: “This is not the first time you feel stuck, but after beating this level, we will be better.” Continuing the exploration and the visitor will find other special arrangements, such as the “My Computer” section webpage, in which you could customize the wallpaper and change the “venue visuals” to what you like.

Furthermore, in order to restore time and space, the website also has a screen saver program that is specially designed. Lee says “We imitated the two most popular versions of screen savers back at that time. One is the starry sky constantly moving forward and the other is the pipes running all over the place.” He says that this method is actually like the common user prompt seen on many media websites: “You have been idle for more than 3 minutes. Please take the next step of action.” A slight variation of a common pattern can become an ingenious surprise. As for the desktop icons, “Network Neighborhood” incorporates the social media platform concept. Click on the icon and the visitor is connected to the Gamania Facebook page, and click on “Player” to go to its Youtube channel. Every detail is a meticulously planned delivery of the brand information. It is a comprehensive promotion of Gamania.

Lee Ming continues and says that when the cursor clicks on the “Games” section, the user will start a battle with a groundhog. If the visitor’s reaction is too slow and the score is too low, then a rematch will start in 30 seconds. If a lucky player receives full scores, then the player will discover an Easter egg. It is said that there are less than 30 people in the world discovering this treasure. It’s all very mysterious. The author asked Lee what the Easter egg is. He responded with a mysterious look and insisted on keeping it a secret. He is determined that players must find it by themselves.

A Shutting Down Program with Special Significance

A Shutting Down Program with Special Significance

The surprises don’t end there! Before you rush to click the X icon on the top right after browsing around, try to log off by clicking on “Start” on the bottom left. Confirm that you want to shut down the machine and, phew, the screen will turn black immediately, just like the machine really did power off. Yes, Lee’s team wants to scare us! Lee makes a face and sneakily smiles as he imagines the player’s reaction in front of the computer, saying “Everyone must be so surprised and shout, X! I didn’t really just shut down my computer, did I?” Don’t worry. It is just a small prank. Click on the window again. The screen will reappear and bring you back to the website in a normal state XD.

Lee indicates that this setup is fun and also something that resonates with him the most. The familiar sight of the screen being shut down is a reminder of the past, and a farewell to the old him. Lee reminisces about his childhood playing on the computer behind his parents, and covering the noisy modem with the blanket, just like the scenario in the film “GAMA25, Let’s Beat this Level”. Those memories deeply rooted in his mind were revived in this design which encourages him to continue marching forward now. We trust that anyone who has seen the “Stuck on a Level, Beat that Level: GAMA25 Online Exhibition” feels the same way, sees the past and finds strength, courage, and similarities within that past. This is precisely the essence that the exhibition is trying to convey. No matter what challenging level you face in the future, a new page will turn as long as you overcome that hurdle. Gamania will also continue to accompany everyone on the journey and create new milestones together.

Now, with all this in mind, are you tempted to check out the “Stuck on a Level, Beat that Level: GAMA25 Online Exhibition”? Why not visit the website now and discover even more interactive surprises!

Interview conducted and article written by: Arya.S.H
Photography: Aaron Tseng, Larry Lee

[Relevant Links]

Stuck on a Level, Beat that Level: GAMA25 Online Exhibition: https://gama25.gamania.com/ 
“GAMA25, Let’s Beat this Level” Corporate image promo video: https://youtu.be/DhVmLHGK0gk
“GAMA25, Let’s Beat this Level” Behind the scenes video: https://youtu.be/lAPKC6z8DAE

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