BEHIND THE SCENES
Meet the UK’s
AR game pioneers
These four British studios are at the crest of a new wave of augmented reality (AR) gaming. From chasing cartoon pigeons to crazy golf, these games give interactive entertainment a whole new dimension.
You can find out more about the minds behind these games – and of course download their games – below.
Dream Reality Interactive
This team has real pedigree. Founded in late 2016 by Dave Ranyard, the former head of PlayStation’s London Studio, Dream Reality Interactive has been recruiting top virtual and augmented reality talent ever since.
Its first AR game, Orbu, beams beautiful Zen gardens into the real world and invites you to play crazy golf in them.
“Blurring the line between digital and real worlds is going to be a huge part of our future, and gaming will lead the way,” says Dream Reality’s Sitara Shefta. “AR allows us to re-invent the way that games are played.”
Orbu is clearly just the start. Several new AR projects will be announced soon, adds Shefta. “We cannot say too much, except that we will be pushing the AR boundaries later this year.”
Cute golfing style AR game
Sheffield’s Dumpling Design was formed in 2013 on founder Travis Ryan’s belief that “everyone has an arcade in their pocket.”
Now that everyone also has an AR device in their pocket, Dumpling has turned its attention to beaming arcade experiences into people’s front rooms.
When Dumpling showed off an early version of AR Smash Tanks! at a couple of gaming events last year, “the reaction from players convinced us we had something special,” says Ryan. “They were taken aback by the technology and they’d bring friends back to see it!”
Dumpling is now exploring the possibilities of “digital playthings” with AR technology, and is beavering away on several new prototypes. It expects to release at least one new game later this year.
“AR can bring people together around its shared magic,” adds Ryan. “It has huge potential to unite gamers in new forms of competition, exploration and expression.”
Smash Tanks! - AR Board Game
AR battles for 1 or 2 players
Portsmouth’s Climax has been making games for 30 years – an incredibly rare thing in the turbulent world of videogames. CEO Simon Gardner says that his studio’s longevity is down to its passion for exploring new technologies.
“We are always interested in new ways of making entertainment,” he tells us. “AR is going to change the world – it will ultimately touch every aspect of our lives. We have a long and interesting journey ahead of us.”
Climax’s first steps in that journey came with ARise, a dazzling mix of perspective puzzles and futuristic AR tech. And it will continue, that’s for sure: Gardner says his teams are working on three more projects that mix geolocation and AR.
The Augmented Reality Puzzle
Jamie Shoard and Sam Piggott met at London start-up Dojo in 2014. They bonded over a mutual interest in apps – and third-wave ska music.
When developer toolset ARKit was revealed in June 2017, the duo began conceptualising AR games the very next day.
“Within a couple of months, we shipped our very silly debut,” says Jamie Shoard. In Pigeon Panic! AR, you scare a flock of pigeons for points.
Incredibly, by the end of November, Combo had released its second AR game, dARk: Subject One – an atmospheric horror game.
Combo is keeping this remarkable pace up by “exploring how multiplayer shared-space experiences could work in AR,” says Shoard. This new project is set to be released later this year.