Game for a challenge

07. 815NEWS

• Louis Roots and ‘noob’ gamer Sofie Mather. Photo by Jeremy Dixon

THE spirit of the garage game developer is alive and well at SK Games’converted office on Fitzgerald Street.

Owner Louis Roots set up the company late last year after coming back to Perth back from a Danish job developing games for mobile phones.

It was a ballsy move for Roots, who employs six paid staff in an industry where scarcity of jobs often means many work for free.

Roots studied game design at Edith Cowan uni after getting hooked on Quake in the 90s (he even has a tattoo of the game’s logo): “When I finished there, there was nothing in Perth.”

After a stint overseas he decided to come home and start SK Games, and was inundated with job applications.

The small office has all the hallmarks of a tech startup; salvaged furniture, non-existent dress code, beers at lunchtime and ideas scrawled on every surface. Games lie about wired together with odds and ends.

The most unusual part: ‚“We don’t sell anything,” Roots says, at least not yet.

He’s not interested in trying to sell a squillion copies of the company’s games in an app store, opting instead to create limited edition arcade-style games to pubs and clubs.

They’ve had a few trial runs at Lets Make Games events (a collective of Perth’s indy developers) and also shown them at local markets.

“We’ve had a really good response, it’s pretty exciting,” Mather says.

“They’re designed for pubs: They’ve got a spot to hold your beer‚ they’re spill proof,” Roots says.

Sticking to their principle of ‘simple and addictive’ they run every new project by staffer Sofie Mather, a non-gamer who helps the techies keep perspective.

“I would be what you’d call a noob,” she laughs.

“We try to be really accessible: If Sofie can play it, then anyone can play it,” Roots says.

Most of the graphics are pretty straight forward, but they’re teaming up with artist Chloe Sellars (aka Arcadian Dreams) for a crossover between art and game. Much virtual blood has been spilt over whether games are art (film critic Roger Ebert enraged thousands when he said they weren’t), and they’re seeking to merge the two worlds with an ‘interactive art piece’ half game, half painting that players can explore like a level.

An exhibition featuring the art piece, called Floating Ephemeral World, opens with a selection of Sellars’ work on February 7 at 167 Fitzgerald Street.

by DAVID BELL

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