As a resident of an apartment complex with unobstructed westward view, I’ve become a big fan of the Mall Taman Anggrek LED facade. As the sun sets over Jakarta’s milky skyline, colors and advertising messages come to a flickering life. Soon, the massive building begins to glow. And watching this, I feel part of a grand, futuristic, urban scenario.
So, naturally, last time on the way home from Soekarno Hatta Airport, I made a point of greeting my beloved wall from up close. A pleasant surprise that, instead of the usual ads, there was somehting new going on: The central tall column of the setup invites passers-by to send tweets with the hashtag #TAmonsters. Cute cartoon monsters with your tweet in a speech bubble then proceed to crawl across the screen. “yoo the interactive LED wall at taman anggrek is.pretty dope! #tamonsters!” I tweeted, then craned my neck in vein as I had passed before I could see “my” monster in action.
“Still”, I said to myself, “Still! – this is pretty cool. I want to find out who did this.”
My first hunch was that it was the PR project of a big toy or games company. Are TAmonsters the new Pokemon? Who knows what kids play with these days.
But it’s actually better than that. The people behind this project are Toge Productions, a small local game developer. These are real geeks given a free pass to experiment with the giant display by Iris Worldwide, an agency which creates content for the Taman Anggrek Billboard.
I asked Kris Antoni, one of the two founders of Toge Productions, a few questions about the project.
Q. Why did Iris invite you to do this project?
A. The LED Billboard on Mall Taman Anggrek is very very big. The LED Billboard actually consist of 4 separateLED panels. 2 smaller screens with high resolution and 2 largre screens with lower resolution.
Before we got on board with the project, most of the content shown in the LED Billboard were either videos or images. Iris often created and rendered 4 different videos for each segment of the LED Billboard. When viewed together, it appears as a seamless video. But the creation of these videos can take days. This approach can clearly not be used for interactive content.
Iris once tried to make the screen interactive for their “ASK TAMI” campaign in 2012, but they faced a lot of technical challenges that were left unresolved.
In early 2013 they decided to attempt another interactive wall campaign, to take it to the next level. And to overcome the technical challenges, Iris asked for our help. Our company is a small independent game development studio. We work on our own game projects. We don’t usually accept work for hire, but this project got our interest because it’s cool and unique.
Q. As I gather from your blog, your initial ambition was to create an interactive humans vs. zombies multiplayer game on the screen. However, you finally decided to simplify it a lot. What do you think could be done improve the gameplay and to make the experience last longer for passers-by?
A. Most of the “players” or audience right now are in a car passing the mall. They only have a few minutes to understand what is going on with the screen. This is why we decided to reduce the concept to its essence. We want people to understand the concept and play with the screen as quickly as possible.
We are going to work on a companion mobile app with a lot of cool new stuff in it. We would also love to add a few mini-games and more interactions on the LED Screen.
Q. Can people inside the Mall interact with the wall?
A. Not at the moment. But that too will hopefully change once we have the companion mobile app.
Q. How did the Mall Taman Anggrek Management react to the idea?
A. They are great people to work with. They are very open to ideas and suggestions, they gave us full creative freedom, with some minor legal guidelines. It’s awesome!
Q. How long will #TAmonsters still be visible?
A. Taman Anggrek has not set any timeframe. Right now it seems it will run indefinitely.
Q. What was the most creative use from a player?
A. I would say traffic reports. Some also tried to use it as a tool to promote their twitter account or sell products. We had to remove these posts though. Most are random but funny rants.
Q. What did you do to promote the project?
A. Nothing much, only a few posters inside the mall, a few tweets and blog posts.
Q. Do you think this experiment could be the start of some more creative use of the TAMI LED wall? Is Mall Taman Anggrek open to the idea?
A. I think there will be more cool stuff in the future!
The project has already won several awards at Citra Pariwara 2013, which Kris calls “The Oscars for Indonesian Advertising.”