McMillan helps interns get into the ad game

Creative agency made an in-house video game to appreciate its interns

Sarah Cunningham-Scharf August 18, 2015

McMillan Ottawa Intern Game

Regardless of the length and purpose of a placement, interns are under pressure to perform and learn as much as possible in the short period of time they’re with a company.

And with unpaid internships becoming increasingly regulated in Canada, interns have the added stress of proving themselves as worthwhile investments for employers.

To show interns how much their work is appreciated, creatives at Ottawa-based agency McMillan coded and designed a video game featuring its interns as playable characters. Players have to collect “ideas” and deliver them to owner and CCO Gordon McMillan.

mcm-interns-game-screenshot-1Jared Young, a creative director at McMillan and the lead on the video game project, said, “We ask a lot of our interns, they do a lot of hard work. We wanted to do something nice and reward them.”

The game was modeled after traditional 8-bit style Nintendo video games like Legend of Zelda. None of the creatives involved with the project had ever coded or designed a video game before. “It seemed like a way to up our skill level in various areas and give people something fun to do,” said Young.

Originally, the game was conceptualized as a recruitment tool. It was revealed to the featured interns a few months ago, said Young, and is now accessible to prospective employees on the agency’s website.

“It’s less about learning practical skills and more about learning about our office culture. It speaks to the creative opportunity you have to work on projects like it,” he said.

Young said it’s important to make internships a positive experience. “We struggle with how to make their experience valuable. So many interns come and go through positions, they’re here for a while and they disappear. It felt right to recognize them however we could.”