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Lightswitch and E3: Over 20 Years of Success

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During the heart of the 1990s, when Super Mario was still crushing question mark boxes and Sonic the Hedgehog was beginning his quest to collect gold rings, a new video game trade show was preparing to launch that would forever change the gaming industry.

The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), hosted by the Electronic Software Association, held its first show in Los Angeles in 1995. Our founding principals, Norm Schwab and John Featherstone, were among the many lighting designers at this initial launch, having been hired to design exhibits for Nintendo and Sega - two of the biggest players in the industry at that time.

Since that first E3 show, many of the lighting, set, and sound designers – and gaming companies, themselves – have come and gone, but Lightswitch has been a consistent presence at the show every year. In fact, we have designed every Nintendo exhibit at the expo since its inception 23 years ago.

With more than 20,000 square feet of show space and a heavily themed booth, it’s crucial for Nintendo’s sound, light, and A/V to be produced in tandem. Because of our early involvement with Nintendo, we are naturally engaged in the creative process each year, as soon as a theme is developed all the way through implementation. The past two years have centered on single-theme environments to celebrate the release of new games, including Legendary Nintendo brands Mario and Zelda. In each instance, we created a virtual “world” where visitors felt as though they were jumping into the games themselves.

Over ten years ago, we began working with Electronic Arts (EA), particularly known for sports-themed games like Madden, FIFA and NBA Live, and have collaborated each year since. More recently, as trends are moving away from the traditional expo setting, EA has opted not to participate in the trade show but instead expand into a branded immersive off-site event. These off-site experiences include three days of media, fan-focused and public events where visitors can experience the world of EA games through hands-on game demos, competitions, and multiplayer games with celebrities.

We attribute our long-standing partnerships with our gaming clients to not only our knowledge of the market and our multidisciplinary approach, but also a deep understanding of the extreme loyalty, fierce competition, and emotional connections that come with the gaming experience. By creating fresh, sophisticated, and on-brand environments for our clients, we are truly able to bring these virtual worlds to life.


images include photographs by Jeff Granbery, Chris Medvitz, and others.

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