Zombie game firm is dead serious about expansion

May 27, 2011

SlingShot, the Bristol-based firm behind Igfest, the world’s biggest Pervasive Games Festival which is taking place in the city this weekend, is expecting to double turnover next year as it capitalises on significant commercial opportunities.

Having started life in 2008 with a £9,000 development grant from the publicly-funded Media Sandbox R&D scheme, SlingShot now turns over £150,000 a year. Igfest alone has a budget of £90,000, employs 160 staff, and this year is expected to attract 1,500 players.

In addition to the Bristol festival, SlingShot plans to tour up to four other major UK cities with its zombie-themed chase game 2.8 Hours Later in the autumn.

In Bristol 300 players are taking part each night in 2.8 Hours Later.

Starting at dusk, players have to make it from the start to the end point via a number of clues hidden at secret locations while being chased by zombies. If a player becomes infected by a zombie, they are out of the game.

All 900 tickets for the game have been sold.

The organisers of Igfest, now in its fourth year,say the festival, which is supported by the Arts Council England, Watershed and Bristol City Council, underlines the growing appetite for gaming.

As a result, SlingShot is catching the attention of organisations in both the private and public sectors, who wish to tap into the appetite for play as a way to boost market presence or breathe new life into a tired format.

Bristol’s new M-Shed Museum has commissioned a game to inject a shot of fun into its summer opening. Arts Council England has had two bespoke games designed to raise awareness at the SXSW interactive conference in Texas, and a SlingShot-designed game should be available from your nearest mobile phone store in the autumn, as a major handset provider has commissioned the team to design a game for its latest feature phone. The company has also received interest from organisations as diverse as Greenpeace and the Discovery Channel.

SlingShot director Simon Evans says the unique concept has opened up a new market: “It shows that there’s a whole new entertainment form that people are hungry for,” he said.

“This generation – more than any other – plays games, from football in the street to console games, and they are doing this into adulthood. Our games connect with that, finding a new audience who are prepared to pay for the experience. They’re prepared to pay more than they do for the cinema or the theatre because these are exciting games with high production values,” he adds.

The company hopes that the increasing awareness of pervasive gaming will continue to open up commercial possibilities for them. Having already secured a partnership with Telefonica’s BlueVia, SlingShot is inviting other potential sponsors down to the Igfest Tech Pavilion this year to see how the games work. They hope that, like the players on the street, commercial partners will be queuing up to experience the serious business of fun.

For further information about the games and to see footage of the Hat Game and the tweeture, both developed for Arts Council England at SXSW, go to http://slingshoteffect.co.uk/ Find out more about this weekend’s festival at http://2.8hourslater.com

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