The Virtual Economy

The very best project in each discipline at the Best Design Awards is awarded the supreme, Purple Pin for work that truly raises the bar for New Zealand design.

Tarver Graham, Gladeye

Purple Pin 2020
Graphic: The Virtual Economy
Studio: Gladeye

The Client

L'Atelier BNP Paribas is a foresight company. They identify future market opportunities and challenges in digital and virtual domains through research, analysis and exploratory fiction.

Their work considers the challenges and opportunities that will emerge when new technology transforms society. They explore the space where the real and virtual environments converge.

The Challenge
L'Atelier are shining a light onto the emergent economies forming in massive multiplayer games and across online real estate and blockchain-based virtual goods. But, how do you bring to life economic systems that exist solely in digital?

The Solution

Gladeye tapped into the future visions of our childhood in both Cyberpunk and pixel art - breathing 3D life into them with WebGL and then setting them in motion amongst a hugely detailed, long-form exposé written by the client.

Inside this vectorised, Tron-like landscape Gladeye created raw materials, virtual goods, and rewards, all floating across a vast universe that reflects the untapped potential of virtual economies.

The opening sequence shows a flat plane extending to infinity; they then created the effect of an undulating mountain range in the distance by randomly increasing the vertices within a U-shape (preserving the visual impact of the main titles).

As the audience begins to scroll, the camera hurtles away in a huge dolly move, signifying the start of this deep dive into this virtual world.

The entire article is based on a series of interlinked WebGL scenes, through which we pass the camera (aka your browser) which is tethered to your scroll position.

All the stars and cargo crates floating throughout the experience are randomly generated in 3D space every time the site loads, with those crates expressing the raw materials being sought out or mined by entrepreneurs in these worlds – the “proof of work” which unlocks richer rewards.

Storyboards were sketched out alongside the article’s content skeleton; then camera movements between key moments were created and refined directly ‘in browser’, as Gladeye tweaked the motion and timing to best tell the story.

They used texture, colour, shape, and movement to distinguish the “low value” and “high value” objects throughout this virtual world; from the dull crates floating in the distance, to the excited swarm of the gold fragments within the Marketplaces sequence.

Judges’ Comments

This work is exceptional. The research piece itself is remarkable, but the website design really helps immersing the reader into the subject. It's not easy to cover as much ground as Gladeye did and to stitch it all together with such elegance and style. The concept is very creative, the style is unique and the execution, both of design and technical, is flawless to the last detail.