A few years ago my kids wanted to play Cluedo, the popular murder mystery game we used to play in the 80s.
I thought it’d be awesome, reuniting with and passing on this amazing, beautifully visual and imagination stirring game.
I was horrified to see what the game had evolved to. Actually, I think I started swearing and talking about how the world had gone to shit.
The previously perfect craft had been replaced by piss poor 3D Vector art. All the mystery of those characters, capable of murder, twisted in some horrific way, was replaced by characters who were capable of only one thing. Being fake.
You simply don’t believe being murdered by a 3-D dagger. But you do believe the original dagger, that literally looked like exhibit A from Charles Manson’s occult-inspired slaughter scene.
Above I’ve found imagery from the original game. Any art director or photographer will marvel at the beautiful craft. The decision making about props, makeup, lighting, composition. It’s all here. And all very well chosen to create an effect on the players. I recall being instantly transported into the house. I owe this to the art direction and design, which built such a rich narrative.
Let’s examine the 2000s version below.
Well, there’s not much needed to be said. Shithouse, perhaps?
And any explanation more logical, I’m sure, would only be an excuse for ruining a once amazing game. I should add here that in searching for this material, I discovered that the one I thought was original, wasn’t.
Not that it matters, as it shows how an American designer, who took on interpreting the game for the US market, actually improved the experience.
So, let’s consider the game as a microcosm of what’s happening in design and production generally in our lives.
How many Cluedo examples are there, where once great things have been reduced – always for very logical and necessary reasons of course – to a new something? A new version which simply doesn’t have the appeal. And the original ‘drama’ that defined the experience, is lost to cost-cutting or design ignorance.
I won’t give up on craft.
My final word on the subject goes to the people who have their hands on the craft.
Be stubborn. Once you know what you want, don’t take no for an answer. Push.
Push the craft. Push the little things that create the experience. Your demonstration matters.
It’s mass action against mediocrity.
Know what you want. Craft till you get it.