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SIGGRAPH 2021 transports guests to a retro gaming world.

This year’s SIGGRAPH conference transported attendees into a retro gaming world, where they escaped from an abandoned arcade, took pictures in themed photo booths, hopped into dance parties, and made new connections along the way.

Written by 
Aletta Hiemstra

The 48th-annual SIGGRAPH conference aimed to recapture the social aspect of in-person events that the computer graphics community has come to love over the years. With ohyay, the SIGGRAPH team was able to build a fun, customized environment where attendees could network, mingle, make new connections, and catch up with friends and colleagues.

“We wanted to design daily social hours and even an escape room, which was only possible with ohyay’s authoring tools,” said Ana Cecilia Balliache Liendo, Attendee Experience Chair. 
In the first challenge, guests moved around magnifying glasses to find a light switch.

For the escape room experience, the SIGGRAPH team created a story around Shay D. Pixel, a beloved character in the SIGGRAPH community. Attendees were stuck in an arcade cabinet and had to work together in groups of four to escape. The experience was designed with fun, quirky linear challenges, each of which were evocative of games you’d find in an old-timey arcade. Once the teams escaped, they took a themed picture that included their time and place in the leaderboard.

“Since the experience was designed and implemented exclusively for SIGGRAPH, attendees were able to enjoy a unique, immersive experience in the world of retro gaming, while making new connections and solving puzzles,” said Ana. 
Space-themed game where guests decoded a message with coordinates.
Arcade with four video games, all created within ohyay.
Guests had to beat all of the video games in the arcade to move to the next room.
An ohyay recreation of the electronic memory game Simon.

After escaping from the arcade, the teams moved into social spaces divided into networking and fun rooms. The networking rooms were designed to encourage professional conversations and followed the main tracks of the conference: Production and Animation, Research and Education, Arts and Design, Gaming and Interactive, and New Technologies. Attendees navigated into rooms built for seeking career advice, sharing projects, and learning more about the conference.

The social rooms were designed for more laid back interactions, where attendees could relax at the café and talk about the latest in computer graphics, hop into a dance party, share photos of their pets, or take pictures in photo booths.

Social room where first-time attendees learned more about the conference.
Dance party room where guests moved themselves in and out of disco lights.
"Show Your Pets" social room where guests bonded over pictures of their pets.
Guests took pictures in photo booths and saved them as momentos from the conference.

The SIGGRAPH team ended up designing five days’ worth of crafted, exclusive social events for conference participants, who could easily search for and find their friends.

“Allowing attendees to explore different rooms made a huge difference compared to more structured meeting software. Ohyay also allowed attendees to customize their own experience and socialization level,” said Ana.

Explore a version of the arcade escape room experience here.

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Aletta Hiemstra

Community & Communications at ohyay