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Great drama in 45 minutes

Tribe Studios' first game, Velvet Sundown is set on a luxury yacht. One game lasts 45 minutes wherein 4 to 11 characters pursue their partly collaborative and partly contradictory objectives. An interview with the CEO of Tribe Studios, Elina Arponen.

Helsinki-based Tribe Studios is a dissident. While majority of Finnish game studios aim to carry on the success of Rovio and Supercell in the field of mobile gaming, Tribe Studios does something else. They are developing specific technology to enable unique multiplayer gaming experiences in PC environment. Tribe Studios first game Velvet Sundown is set on a luxury yacht. One game lasts 45 minutes wherein 4 to 11 characters pursue their objectives. Some of the objectives are collaborative and some contradictory with the others.

Tribe Studios was founded in 2010 and the Dramagame concept has developed little by little. Tribe Studios was originally developing a game, but soon they found out that the game development requires a lot more technological development than they had originally assumed. Just this is one of the biggest challenges of Dramagame. The complexity of the game grows very quickly as the players make their own interlinking solutions.

Dramagame sounds like a game, but the CEO of Tribe Studios, Elina Arponen corrects it to be more about a game technology or a genre. Tribe Studios is a technology provider and they license Dramagame technology to other companies. In addition, they also develop games themselves. Dramagame is a way to make collaborative multi-player story games. All of the Dramagame -games are based on the idea that by creating interesting characters and a variety of tasks and functions, you can enable the creation of great multiplayer experiences. Behind every game character is a real person. That person will decide what the character says and does within a limited period of time. It is like an interactive episode of a TV series in a game format.

Tribe Studios is a dissident, also for the reason that they are doing something that has never been done before in multiplayer games. Brisk 45 minute games enable the player to run an instant role-play, or use the interactive stage as a learning environment. Besides Velvet Sundown, Tribe Studios has developed Altogame: Lateral Gallery game in collaboration with Altonova (provider of agile learning services) and BRIIM Holodeck game where teams work together to solve problems. BRIIM Holodeck was developed in collaboration with BRIIM “braingym” Center.

Arponen says that the original idea of Dramagame was to ​develop an experience that is social, rich audio-visual experience and can be experienced in short cycles. The peculiar idea came about after she noticed that she does not have time to play and actually finish some great games. She is not alone. She refers to a research where many console game buyers do not have time or energy to play the games until the end. Instead the dénouements are watched from Youtube.

Regardless of the platform gaming is increasingly about measurement (analytics) and trying to understand the players better (user centric design). But when it comes to user acquisition and stickiness, Tribe Studios is facing very different challenges than mobile game developers. There are no app stores or mass audiences just one tap away. With respect to the learning games, Tribe Studios is in direct contact with other companies that offer learning games to their clients. Their first own game, Velvet Sundown, will soon be published globally. Tribe Studios has used a PR office to find and utilize the correct channels and contacts in order to reach the Velvet Sundown gamers.

Arponen says that Velvet Sundown stickiness is somewhat quadrate with TV series. When a player enjoys Dramagame, she wants to see another "episode" -- to know what happens next. Arponen believes that there is a lot of space in between the five minutes long mobile games and the 50 hours console games. There is a clear demand for different types of medium-length game formats and Dramagame is filling up that space.

Arponen points out that Dramagame gives a lot of freedom to the players to create unique experiences in a 45 minutes time frame. It also offers interesting opportunities to try out different characters, roles and solutions. That indeed is the magic power of the Dramagame.

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