ClickFire Media Creates Facebook Games to Help Little Tikes Save Sea Turtles
2011 marks the 33rd anniversary of the iconic Little Tikes Turtle Sandbox. The company marked the occasion by teaming up with the Sea Turtle Conservancy to raise awareness about the plight of sea turtles and rally people to the cause of preserving them. To promote the partnership - which includes sponsorship of a turtle in the annual "Tour de Turtles" and donations from a designated donation page - Little Tikes tapped ClickFire Media to design a pair of games, Go `n Grow Turtles and Go Turtle Go, as well as the Facebook page.
ClickFire Media - with an assist from sister sound studio Sounds Like Click - ran with the challenge. They created a Facebook campaign that evokes the famous Little Tikes toys while raising money for the Sea Turtle Conservancy through games, social apps, sweepstakes, turtle-naming activities, donation information, and up-to-date news and information about the efforts.
"We looked at their toys directly and found that one of the most identifying features of Little Tikes is the plastics they use in their products," stated ClickFire Media CD Nick Adgerian. "Creating a look that could evoke memories of the plastic's tactile qualities was a really good way to make the game feel authentic. This created a special challenge in that we couldn't use a lot of transparencies even though the videogame portion of this promotion took place underwater - but where is the fun if there are no challenges?"
The main Facebook page, features a hub, designed in the bubbly plastic spirit of a Little Tikes toy, that gives visitors the option to donate money; buy T-shirts and other gear; play an educational video on the partnership; use a "Turtle Player"; and play the Go 'N Grow arcade-style turtle game, in which players select from seven species of sea turtles and help it grow and migrate by finding fresh air and food and avoiding predators and pollution.
For the videogame portion of the page, ClickFire Media poured considerable resources into creating turtles and other animals that looked like they were made of Little Tikes plastic without losing their defining characteristics. Using renderings of different sea turtle breeds, the team crafted computerized versions that looked like toys.
"By contrast to the Go 'N' Grow game, the Go Turtle Go game is not a videogame," noted Adgerian. "The way it works, is that you pick and name a turtle, and then send it to friends." The mileage between those friends on Facebook determines the eventual total of miles logged, with the goal being to have your turtle make the longest trip.
According to producer Ephraim Kehlmann, the biggest challenge of the two-month job wasn't so much an artistic and visual one as it was, "nailing down all the specific details and how it'd work with Facebook and any of their restrictions. How do you track each turtle? How does the mileage add up? And we also developed different leader-boards, so there was a lot to figure out in terms of the user experience."
The team used Google Maps and the Google Map API within the game. "We always love doing mash-ups, whatever we're doing," he added. "It's one of our strengths, and a lot of projects we have around here involve similar sorts of mash-ups."
Since its release at the start of the July 4th holiday, the game has attracted a growing following. Ultimately, the page in general, and the Go 'N Grow game in particular, may be a harbinger of the sort of work ClickFire Media will focus more on in the future. "We are finding ourselves pitching more and more game concepts recently," said Adgerian. "Since we were already pitching really solid social media campaigns, I felt like this project dovetailed nicely into our sweet spot. For a while it seemed that games as advertising were a played-out idea, but I think that there is a new perspective on gaming straddling the real world and the digital world, and it's opening up the possibilities of interactive again. That may a lofty statement, but it's not in the grander scheme of this project and other projects like it that we are involved with. It wouldn't seem like such a lofty statement if you could see behind our curtain right now. Trust me, there's a party going on back there."
Client: Little Tikes
Launch Date: July 2011
Interactive Design Studio: ClickFire Media
Creative Director: Nick Agderian
Art Director: Andrew Hess
Production Artist/Designer: Adam Aharon
Lead Developer: Jason Tordsen
Flash Developer: Christopher Pappas
Server Side and HTML Developer: Matt Wilber
Producer: Ephraim Kehlmann
Audio Post: Sounds Like Click
Senior Sound Designer: Brian Scribinico
Music: "The Click 3X Cartoon Jazz Band"; Brian Scibinico (kazoo, beatbox), Jeremy Bauman (kazoo), Nick Agderian (bass), Kirsten McCord (cello)