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#GROUPHUG


Erik: the old Pinball Dreams by Digital Illusions back in the early 90s is a real favourite – along with Pinball Fantasies; they’re really fun to play for hours on end. Mark: The classic games I seem to have the fondest memories of. My favourite is an old super Nintendo game called Super Metroid. It came out in the mid-nineties in an era when Nintendo and others were making fantastic games that people like me would keep coming back to time and again. Super Metroid was an action-adventure game where you played a bounty hunter exploring planets to retrieve lost items. It paved the way for a whole genre of games where you must collect power ups from one part of the game world, and back track to use them to open new parts of the game. There were plenty of games that tried to replicate it, but no one ever achieved it in my opinion. Christopher: I still reminisce about a game from the mid-nineties called Ogre Battle, but my favourite game is Peggle, a simple but highly playable arcade game which is very similar to Pachinko. It’s more than 10 years old now but still has an enduring appeal. Each level challenges players to shoot balls at a field of coloured pegs to clear out specifically marked pegs while attempting to achieve a high score using skilled shots. It’s a simple mechanic, and not dissimilar to falling reels on a slot game in some ways but is so calming and something I go back to time and again.


Players want interactivity and expect the same sense of


progression that they find in their favourite non-casino games” – ANNAMARIE ANASTASI


82 MAY 2019 CIO


engagement and long-term


CIO: Are the people you work with mostly gamers or non-gamers? Mark: A large part of my immediate development team are gamers, with the biggest one of our game producers, who is very into video games and still plays a lot and is very much on the pulse of the industry. Some of our game developers come from video games companies in previous jobs. The giveaways are when you see some of the retro T-shirts they wear or their old school mobile ringtones that originate from 8-bit games. We have the latest Xbox One in the kitchen of our new office and you often see people playing FIFA against each other at lunchtime, plus we’re planning to run more companywide tournaments. Gaming is central to everything we do, and people live and breathe it every day at iSoftBet. Erik: I think it’s almost mandatory for a developer, producer or artist to love games if they want to be successful in their roles. Without a gamer/gambler mindset, can you make really solid games? I don’t think it’s possible to get all the important details right without a passion for gaming at a player level. David: My co-founder – who handles our R&D – is an avid MMORPG gamer [massively multiplayer online


role-playing game, acronym fans! – Ed.] as well as a poker and roulette fan. Gamers bring lots of imagination, passion and high energy to their work. Geoff: In my experience, most developers and artists tend to play games, with many of them coming from game development backgrounds. That’s very much the case with FunFair, which itself was founded by people who started out in the video gaming space. They came in with a wealth of creative ideas and expectations about how our games should look, feel and play, and they aren’t happy just replicating the same old safe gambling games. Video games and gambling games can be very different experiences that attract different types of player, but we still need to make sure we create gambling experiences that appeal to a wide variety of players, and that means learning from video games where we can. Christopher: Our teams are made up of around 75% gamers and 25% non-gamers. Both types of people bring a passion for games, but when gaming is both your hobby and your profession it becomes less of a nine to five job and more about extending that


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