You may know Marc Ecko's name. You may have seen it emblazoned across everything from hooded sweatshirts to backpacks, accompanied by his trademark rhino logo.
But you may not know that besides his ecko unlimited brand he's also the man behind 50 Cent's G-Unit clothing, skate favourite Zoo York clothing, Avirex clothing and Complex, a US-based men's lifestyle magazine.
Ecko's got a whole urban culture brand on lockdown, but he's not finished there. His next target is an industry that likes to think it's modern, hip, urban, and 'street', but is often anything but. The videogames industry.
With Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure Ecko hopes to create a videogame that satisfies casual and hardcore gamers alike, and still stays faithful to its graffiti subject matter. He doesn't just want to make games that sell to nerds - he says he wants to make games that get you laid.
But doesn't everyone? And why does this guy who sells clothing for a living think he can criticize the whole games industry he is only just entering? We sat down with Ecko to find out...
This is the first time you've worked on a videogame. How has it been so far?
Marc Ecko: It's been good. I'm very self-critical, I'm kind of a masochist when it comes to the things I create, but I'm not a clairvoyant. I can't see how people are going to react to what I want to do. But so far I've been pleased with everyone's reaction to Getting Up, and I intend to deliver on those expectations.
If you're such a perfectionist, why choose games? It's not the easiest medium to get right, whether its your first game or fiftieth...
Marc Ecko: I figure if I choose the hardest things to perfect then everything else will be easy. You know, I wrote the script for Getting Up six years ago when I was six million dollars in debt. I had to put it to one side so I could concentrate on turning my business around, but I hadn't decided that it would eventually be a game. I originally intended it to be film or animation. And then I had my watershed moment as a gamer. It was around the time that the PlayStation became more than just a coin-op at your house. Suddenly I was looking at these amazing third-person action RPG narratives like Metal Gear and Tomb Raider. Then it struck me - maybe the right place to take my script was to gaming. That became my goal.
Was it a tough goal to achieve?
Marc Ecko: Yup. All the publishers know me, I've been around them all and they all said no to me.
How did that make you feel?
Marc Ecko: I think the dismissals came more from me being a fashion designer. They were like, 'who the [bleep!] is this guy coming in here, he doesn't know code or algorithms'. But there's a thin line between the people who have great ideas for games, and the people who make games. I've managed to cross that threshold and I really hope that will open up opportunities for other people to do the same. Again, I don't have a crystal ball so I don't know how well Getting Up is going to sell, but I'm hopeful. I'm cautiously optimistic. The real success for me was just getting the thing made, and without having to deal with too much meddling from a publisher.
You've been very vocal about how you feel the videogames industry is moving in the wrong direction and that games creators are losing focus of their audience. Why do you think you've got the right to say that?
Marc Ecko: That's who I am. It's freedom of expression, and I'll say what I think regardless of who might be offended. I'm also a gamer. Ask me some questions, challenge me [we took Marc's word for it]. But beside that I'm a consumerist. I'm a marketeer. I'm someone who can take a glass bottle, fill it with water, put some chemicals in it, and sell it to you as a fragrance for $80 because you think you'll get a blowjob tonight if you splash it on. That's the mythology of brand building, and the brand building that you see everywhere in other consumer products is largely lost in gaming. This is an industry that's still dominated by men. I mean, I can't think of any way of turning a woman off you - save for perhaps farting in her face - than pulling out a PSP in front of her. Now, that's not because the PSP isn't cool. It's because the content on that PSP is not something that will ever appeal to the mass market, so you end up looking like some nerd playing a game. I want to make a game that's going to get you laid!