We built a computer-controlled claw game. Then we invited the world to play.

We did it because we dreamt it. And because we’ve got giant balls (they are multi-colored and packed with prizes). The claw game started out as our favorite kind of idea insanity, a nugget from one of our infamous off-the-cuff and basically bananas “wouldn’t it be cool if…“ conversations. It would be cool. We simply had to do it.

playing up PLAYTIME

If you know Real Art, then you know that we’re driven by a compulsion to have fun.

We believe in playtime. We want you to smile and feel magic in your day. The Santa Claw is a success story for us in so many ways: it’s design, it’s digital, it’s physical. But at its heart, it’s just plain fun. The easy rules—aim and grab—are nostalgic from our childhoods. We layered on storytelling and interactivity for irresistible results.


This was a holiday promotion, so we spun up a Santa-themed tale and announced it by mailing hundreds of giant game tokens. The jolly man and his elves stockpile toys all year round in anticipation of the season, but some of them never get asked for. Santa cut us a deal on the rejects, and that’s how we got such a wacky assortment of prizes. Players had treasures shipped to their doorsteps, but they risked winning unsavories like leather chaps, Dokken album sets, or disgusting cologne. They could also win sweet Claw swag. The hilarity was in the surprise.

REMOTE controlled

We wanted the world to play, so we made it controllable online. Players took aim using their own keyboard and mouse, along with the help of a real-time video feed and multiple camera angles. They could take as many turns as they wanted and received anything they won.

ENTERTAINMENT while you wait

The Claw can only be operated by one person at a time, and everyone had to wait their turn. So we built a rich interface that made queuing up fun to do. From here, you could customize your virtual character, use the chat feature to talk to neighbors, and watch live feeds of other players as they test their luck.

the anatomy of A GIANT CLAW

  • 2000 LBS OF STEEL

    The best foundation should always be a sturdy one. The Claw’s was no different, with a heavy duty, welded steel frame that bolted together for easy transportation.

  • 900 FEET OF WIRE

    From motors to switches to lighting and even cameras, feet upon feet of wiring was necessary to keep the Claw operational morning to night.


    Where else can you find a set of motors and gears that can move several hundred pounds of metal? Wheelchair motors made the Claw glide and grab with ease.


    Two for the current player to see what he/she is doing. One for the hundreds of onlookers in line. And of course, one to take pictures of the prizes they won.

infectious POPULARITY

We created it. But once fans took to social media, the Claw took on a life of its own. Status updates, blog posts, and YouTube videos made the game go viral.

the claw LIVES ON

The Claw was only meant to be a short-lived holiday promotion for us, but no one wanted it to end. We get tons of pretty-pleases and sugar-on-tops to fire it back up again, and sometimes we do. In 2012, the Claw debuted at the Gizmodo Gallery in New York City. And in 2013, it went southbound and sporty for the Super Bowl in New Orleans. It currently resides at Proto BuildBar in Dayton, Ohio, where anyone can stop by and have a go.

Additional Work