Gaming Tees from Seven Squared are a tribute to games from our childhood
Hear the story behind what drives the passion behind the project. We spoke to Simon from the team about the design, brands and what goes into the whole thing!
Hi Simon - first question!
Q1. What made you start the company in the first place (what inspired you)?
For many years I have worked in the games and gaming space and dabbled in merchandising from time to time but one thing that always used to frustrate me was the lack of commitment given to what is the greatest entertainment journey in history in this area. I mean, what has been more impactful than computer games on the life and story of many of us. So, I thought why not ask what a couple of others thought of the idea and that is when Steve and Dave joined in with the idea.Furthermore, as a mental health advocate I wanted to connect to that in some way as games have always been both a solid foundation and memory bank for a multitude of reasons including when you feel crap and needed an escape, they were always there. It was also a reason to get together with a friend and play games to get away from it all.
Throughout my life playing a game here and there has always been supportive and over recent years the sense of community both for myself and my son during covid times has made it all the more palpable.
Hence the connection we have with games industry mental health charity Safe In Our World. So, through this we get to live out two passions. The story of the journey of computer games, what those moments meant from a game perspective but also a mental health one. Promoting the positivity both can bring to all of us.
Q2. What computers and games did you most love growing up and why?
To be honest, when I started, I often borrowed my mates’ consoles as I was not initially allowed one. I think my parents thought they would be really bad for me and my focus.
Anyway, when I did, the ZX Spectrum, Vic20 and Commodore 64 were the initial ones. A little dabble on the Amiga from time to time also plus the Atari 2600 which I loved when I could get my hands on one.
The first console I actually owned was a Vic 20. Games are varied as you can see from the journey shared to date but Kikstart was always an early classic along with the Epyx portfolio like Cali Games but the early teenage years headed to Bitmap games from Speedball to Chaos Engine.
Away from home, the arcade was a special place and many an Atari game from Asteroids to Battlezeone (now owned by Rebellion) and 1943 Battle of the Midway were always favourites and costly! The latter of which I remember spending all the 10ps my Gran gave me out of her purse when on a holiday to the Pontins in the South West. She was not too pleased, but I had fun!
Q3. How are the garments made and the materials (cotton quality) used?
We use Gildan Softstyle 100% Soft ring spun Cotton for all of our T's.
These have a high stitch density for a smoother printing surface resulting in a better and clearer print. It's a classic fit T and one that our customers love based on our Trustpilot score :)
Q4. What are you favourite designs from your current portfolio and why?
I think there are a few for sure. Naturally the first designs which Mike Montgomery was so willing to support from that part of the journey, especially the more recent box art Speedball 2 design.
Away from that, our first exclusive Safe In Our World design for Worms via Team 17 is a great one for many reasons.
Beyond that I was really excited to get the approval from Ian Livingstone to add some Fighting Fantasy designs to the journey. I mean, who didn’t enjoy those role-playing gamebooks when taking a few moments away from the screen. I mean you had to read books as well when you could but those were the only ones really. But there really are too many to list as it can feel like reliving your childhood from time to time.
Q5. What has been your personal experience of the retro gaming community since you started?
Wonderful! We cannot speak more highly of the community and how they have embraced what we have tried to do and in the proper manner by looking to build relationships, license rights and deliver an experience they can also relate to.
It seems they too have sought a genuine respected and caring voice for the journey also. Their engagement in our annual “SafeMentaliTEE” event where we spend the weekend wearing and sharing the journey and what that means to our collective mental health has been outstanding and we have raised thousands of pounds together for the charity.
That means a lot.
Genuinely the community has been great, and we thank every single one of them for supporting what we are trying to build from a unique story perspective but for the charity also. We have also managed to do a few design collaborations with the likes of Arcade Attack, Scumm and Villainy and Jinjar etc. More of those to come when we can get them in.
Q6. What sort of things do you cover on your social channels? And why should people follow you?!
Every time we release a new design (between 12 and 24 per annum at the moment) we write a blog post about that game and its connection to the story being told.
We are most active on Twitter and regularly share imagery on Instagram and Facebook. We tend to focus on the product and teasing what may be coming next as well as sharing what Safe In Our World are up to.
We also check in on people when we can to see if they are doing ok. Generally, it is about the games and the moments and why they are part of the story being told.
We are always quite partial to a retro advert whether that was from TV or magazines. Pure nostalgia! We love being tagged in moments and memories by others as well, especially when they connect to the games they loved and why.
We just wish it was as easy to get rights to do everything people want. We have however carved out a position for trying to do this right and to be genuine and we really do hope that comes across.
Q7. What other brands and games/consoles would you like to work on in the future?
You should see the list! We often joke about how long it is with requests and reminders of things we had forgotten about on there.
Suffice to say we want Seven Squared to be the authentic brand when it comes to this journey and what it means to everyone, so everything is possible.
Some are just harder to get. There are some notable gaps like Lemmings which we tried to nail for the Anniversary, but we just couldn’t get that one to land in time (even with a bloody parachute!).
Where the arcade journey is concerned, we would love to get some of the Midway portfolio as the memories are deep there. Further to that, each year we also aim to have a chapter with one developer/publisher that gives the lion’s share of all sales to Safe In Our World. Last year, thanks to the lovely people at Electronic Arts we were overjoyed to be able to bring Dungeon Keeper, Road Rash, The Sims, Theme Park and Skate or Die to the story and there will be more like this we hope.
I mean the journey would not be complete without having something both from those Magadrive moments and the moments of PC “dominance” in the mid to late 90s.
We have also started to work with other apparel licensees to see what we can do to continue the story where things may be tough for us on our own, so please drop us a line if you have an idea you would like to add from your range.
Q8. Any sneak peeks or future stuff we can reveal here!?
This is a massive year in the story with 40 year birthdays for a host of chapters from Fighting Fantasy to Atari franchises like Pong. I mean just search for 1972 and see what you come up with!
We may also crash in to some the early 2000s again with a little splash of magic.