Kenwood Designs Shadow of the Tomb Raider Event Interview

Interview with Jim Samalis, Chief Creative Officer at Kenwood Experiences

As this is focused around the Bi-Coastal event for Shadow of the Tomb Raider and since I attended the Montreal event I have an inside view of project when developing these questions.

A staple I do in all interviews in order to start things off is to ask that you elaborate a bit about your work for people that might not know?

Jim: We’ve been working with video game clients since the late 1990s and have received attention for many projects over the years. Most recently, we created the Resident Evil 2 experience for Capcom at E3, we also produced the Final Fantasy XIV Fan Festivals for Square Enix. For GungHo we produced their broadcast spot for Let It Die.
Kenwood Designs Shadow of the Tomb Raider Event Interview
When working on the initial planning for the event, were you given any sort of guidelines or was there more of a freedom when basing it around Shadow of the Tomb Raider?

Jim: We were given a brief on the game and exposed to the opening scenes. As a result we focused on the concept of the jungle and temple–both are key elements to this chapter of the game. The client wanted the audience to feel as immersed in the world of the game as possible.

Were there any challenges when working with two locations that are spread out quite far apart? That being the Mayan Theatre in Los Angeles and New City Gas in Montreal.

Jim: We had one creative vision and two teams to execute. The main challenge for us was that the venues were very different and how to work with them so that they would feel consistent between them. It really was about taking advantage of the unique spaces in each location.

I quite enjoyed the theme of the area, what’s it like to compile themed snacks and an environment to match that?

Jim: It was a lot of fun to take the elements of the jungle, the temple and the eclipse and build that out in a completely immersive environment. There were many ideas that didn’t make the cut due to time or budget but we had such great source material to work with.
Lara Croft Attacks Shadow of the Tomb Raider Event Interview
Looking at past event setups, is there one you’d like to highlight as a favorite?

Jim: For Final Fantasy XV we created and produced the Uncovered event that announced the launch date for the much anticipated game. We brought together celebrities and developers to inform and celebrate all things Final Fantasy XV at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles in a show that was broadcast around the globe to huge numbers.

Lastly I would like to leave a spot for you to say something or go over anything I might have missed during the interview?

Jim: It’s really gratifying to get noticed for these kinds of experiences with our video game clients. Research shows that consumers remember how they feel about a brand above any product selling points. By creating engaging one-of-a-kind experiences and activations, we are able to build and solidify that brand loyalty with the target audience who, hopefully, will bring with them a whole new audience.

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Gamerheadquarters Reviewer Jason Stettner