Frank Lantz, Kevin Slavin

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Lantz (LEFT) and Slavin
Lantz (LEFT) and Slavin
For N.Y.-based boutique area/code, 2007 was the year people got the drift. After nearly three years in operation making cross-media "big" games, the company received its first RFP—it was the Discovery Channel, looking to create something big around the 20th anniversary of Shark Week. SharkRunners resulted, an innovative mashup of GPS, SMS and SOS and a breakout for area/code. But armchair sea dogs weren't the only benefactors of area/code's talents. Other projects provided Southwest Airlines passengers A&E titles via in-terminal WiFi stations and CBS viewers an ARG component for the series Numb3rs. As more and more marketers see the value in getting people to play with their brands, co-founders Kevin Slavin and Frank Lantz are in the position of being able to take their unique perspective on game development to bonus rounds.

Slavin, on developing area/code's scalable properties: "Part of the value of what we do with each client is to do something nobody has ever done before. And that's a really difficult business. You enjoy very few benefits. It makes it difficult to product-tize. All the things that we do don't have any of the standardized holes to put pegs into, so as long as we're inventing stuff each time I'd love to be able to invent stuff that can scale endlessly."

Lantz, on area/code's relationship with technology: "What we're really focused on is this experience we're creating. The fact that we're using this particular technology or this other particular technology—it could be a constraint, it could be an ingredient, it could be a starting condition for us in the design process, but we're always focused on making sure it's a very fulfilling experience. In some cases it's less to do with the particular kinds of actual technologies that exist right now and more to do with a shift in people's perceptions based on technologies."

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