A terrorist attack is being planned and will probably be one of many. The state is relying on comprehensive monitoring to foil and prevent terrorist plots. Gamers are now taking on the role of big brother using software called Orwell. Named after the author of the famous novel, 1984, by George Orwell, the software gives the gamer access to all the victim’s data on the internet as well as private conversations and documents. Transfer of the “researched” data marks the play process. But is the person really a potential terrorist or merely a harmless citizen? How far can monitoring be taken in terms of an overarching goal? That is the scenario set in the narrative, exploratory game by the Hamburg-based start-up Osmotic Studios.
HAW’s service for founders and EXIST
Melanie Taylor, Michael Kluge and Daniel Marx founded Osmotic Studios in April 2014. The three are all former graduates of the M.A. games course at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences and they have also received support from HAW’s service for founders in the shape of a free office and the EXIST scholarship. Their successful application for the scholarship proved a stroke of luck as a publishing house still had not been found when the grant ended a year later.
Political, critical of society and experimental
Taylor said: “We approached many publishers and it was confirmed to us time and again that we have a really interesting concept with an innovative approach – only to be told that it was a bit too innovative and experimental.” A proven concept that appeals to a mass target audience would probably have been easier for the trio. “Our game is political, critical of society and experimental and very text-heavy”, said Taylor. And that was unusual.
Networking at the Indie Gameleon
Things were looking gloomy for Orwell until the Indie Gameleon in September 2016. Held for two years in Groningen in the Netherlands, the four-day gaming festival was eventually held in Hamburg for the first time. The cities are twinned with each other and they both supported the event along with gamecity:Hamburg to bring developers, students and young talents together. Osmotic Studios eventually made contact with Australian independent label Surprise Attack. Taylor said. “They had already published a similar, successful game called Hacknet. And that was our starting point.” Things have gone well in the meantime and Orwell is due to launch on the U.S. Steam platform in late 2016. “It will be published for PCs first, then for Macs and Linux”, Taylor added. She advises future developers to believe in their projects and not to give up easily. “We were turned down many times. But we also got lots of feedback. We took that very seriously and continued to develop and improve our game.”
Hamburg is top gaming location
Far-reaching networks are key to launching successfully in the gaming industry, according to Stefan Klein, head of gamecity:Hamburg. And that is what the initiative, launched in 2003, stands for now. Klein noted: “gamecity:Hamburg set itself the goal of making Germany’s gaming sector internationally networked. This allows members to learn from each other and to develop solutions.”
The technically innovative gaming industry has long since become an economic factor that should not be underestimated. Klein says Hamburg is well placed. “In 2012, HAW Hamburg launched Germany’s first M.A. games course. Hamburg also has the most firms in the game industry proportionate to the size of the state. At present, 153 firms are providing 4,500 jobs making us the top location in Germany.”