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Visit Baltimore

A Baltimore-themed video game dazzles VidCon

The Opportunity

VidCon is a content creator-focused conference hosted across the country. One such conference was hosted in Baltimore, Maryland from September 28th to October 1st, 2023. There you’d find the latest and greatest in streaming creativity, innovation, influencers, and more.

Visit Baltimore—an organization that promotes tourism in the area—was in attendance. As one of Mindgrub’s longstanding clients, they asked us for something fun and locally inspired. A fresh take on an old classic: a maze game.

Our Services

  • Design
  • Web Development

Our Approach

Maze games were popularized in the ’80s and ’90s, filling arcades with pixelated characters running around mazes eating tokens, and avoiding enemies. That perfect blend of low-res nostalgia and addictive playability captured the heart of Visit Baltimore’s goal: to give the crowd of YouTubers and streamers another fun and interactive reason to love Baltimore.

For the game to be effective, it needed to fulfill several requirements: First, it needed to be mobile-friendly as well as a booth feature, since the crowds at VidCon would be circulating. Secondly, it had to feel Baltimore-specific and give a sense of the city’s unique charm and offerings. Thirdly, it had to make a splash.

An iphone bezel over a web app screenshot
An iphone bezel over a web app screenshot
An iphone bezel over a web app screenshot

Iconic Baltimore characters and nostalgic styling

As a city, Baltimore has many iconic figures to choose from. So when it came to selecting a protagonist and antagonist that could battle in the maze itself, there was a wealth of options. Quickly, the crab emerged as an easy Baltimore-specific hero. The Baltimore crab has one notorious enemy and natural predator: Seagulls, who became the perfect video game antagonists. For the snacks all these figures would be competing for, the beloved Baltimore lemon stick was selected to add another touch of the city’s cultural charm.

Building a challenging maze  

Once the main characters had been selected, the next step was designing them and their maze environment. Designers and engineers worked in tandem to make sure creative decisions could accommodate any technical limitations. 

To create a challenging enemy path, our engineer coded every frame as a timeline. In every first frame, a Seagull would move, but it would be limited by the defined spaces of both walls, other Seagulls, snacks—and of course—our hero Crab. This movement makes for more unpredictable (and delightful) play. Meanwhile, our designer utilized vector shapes to give the characters and surrounding maze the angular 2-dimensional feel that 8-bit evokes. In its heyday, 8-bit was the result of limited computational resources—to re-create that feel with 21st-century capabilities required multiple layers of design and software.

Getting Technical

To add that extra 80’s polish, characters (or “sprites”) would need to dance or shift as they moved around the maze. The movements were first designed in After Effects before being packaged through Lottie (a character animation tool) and incorporated into the rest of the game, giving the experience a much richer and authentic feel.

Visit Baltimore hosted the game on their website, which meant building on WordPress with some minimal PHP. The game itself was built on HTML, CSS (Saas), and custom JavaScript.

As a final touch, designs filled in the space outside the maze with recognizable Baltimore harbor details to bring home the unique qualities of the city.

Visit Baltimore incorporated a social media component to encourage VidCon attendees to share high scores, explore their website and offerings, and generally gain an appreciation for the great city of Baltimore.

“Our aspiration is that the game, coupled with social media interactions, will inspire players to delve deeper into Baltimore, enticing them to return and explore more in the future.”

—Bridget Weininger, Visit Baltimore’s Senior Director of Marketing for Trade and Experiential

Results that Matter

The video game was a hit—VidCon attendees loved the designs and embraced the challenge to Be Crab, Avoid Bird, and Eat Snack. One VidCon attendee even practiced overnight to conquer the game by the next day, earning the highest score (thus far) of 94K.

The video game not only earned rave reviews from publications such as but it made enough of a splash that 11 TV Hill interviewed Mindgrub Creative Director Meagan Petri and Visit Baltimore’s Bridget Weininger.

Play for yourself, and see what makes Baltimore so special.

Play The Game


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