Electronic Arts Tech Lounge

Electronic Arts Tech Lounge

Venue: Westin Edina Galleria

Attendees: 30 video-game buyers

Rental company: EventLab

Audio-visual and lighting: Avex

Event designer: Tim McVean, account manager, Avex


Electronic Arts (EA), a Redwood, California–based maker of popular video games such as Madden NFL, the Sims, and Need for Speed, wanted to wow its corporate clients when pitching new games. The company makes a special stop in Minnesota to demonstrate its products for Target and Best Buy, two of its biggest clients.

EA teamed with Avex, an audio-visual provider in St. Louis Park, for a training and demonstration event. Tim McVean, account manager at Avex, says his company provided the event design as well as all of the presentation, lighting, and power technology needed for the meeting.

“I did some electronic renderings of how the room was going to look so I could show them, ‘This is what you’re going to get,’ and they loved it,” McVean says. The drawings helped McVean organize inventory for the event and helped employees understand how to set it up.

During the first half of each day (15 Target employees attended one day and 15 Best Buy employees the next), EA game developers pitched (and played) next year’s crop of video games in a small meeting room equipped with three large-screen displays—one for memory-intensive PowerPoint presentations, and the other two for game play. Avex Technical Specialist Mike Kelley meticulously checked each slide to make sure the presentations ran smoothly. For the second half of each day, clients moved to a demonstration room to actually play some of the games.

EA wanted a tech-lounge atmosphere for the game demonstration room that completely enveloped the clients, allowing them to focus on playing the new games. The smallest meeting room at the Westin Edina Galleria in Edina was selected to provide an intimate gaming environment. McVean designed a custom hanging wall made of foam-core circles attached with S-hooks that hung from a truss. The circle wall was made by EventLab, a Minneapolis-based event design company.

“We erected two large trusses behind the TVs that shined lights down on the floor to wash the floor with patterns of light. It gives it a theatrical feel,” McVean says. Pipe and blackout draping completely obscured the room’s walls, and color-changing LED up-lighting and break-up gobos were used to create a moody tech-lounge effect.

Avex outfitted the demo room with 11 individual gaming stations, each with 42-inch, high-resolution LCD displays and a sound system. Lounge furniture provided by EventLab made the room comfortable. Each game station had two controllers so that a game developer could assist clients while playing the games. The game buyers got to spend some quality time with each game, and got tips from the game developers if they got stuck.

McVean figured out what kind of power the event required, and then met with the hotel’s electrical engineer. He found that the room chosen for the game demo didn’t have the amount of power needed. “The main issue is [we have a] really small room, and then they have us pack $20,000-plus worth of equipment into it,” McVean says. “We’ve got to plug all that in somewhere.” Although the room didn’t have enough power at the wall jacks, there were extra power taps around the room Avex could hook into to solve the problem.

McVean noted that power was clearly crucial for this event: “It’s a really big thing because if you don’t have enough power to turn all your stuff on, then your event is just not going to happen.”