The first impression one gets when entering Tokyo Game Show is that of the sheer size of the event. Industry heavyweights set up huge booths where they display their newest games while mobile gaming up-and-comers build even bigger ones, as though trying to physically represent the shift occurring in the gaming business. Mobile games now account for more than half of Japan’s $8 billion video game market and are the main driver of its growth.
This year, a record 480 companies presented 1021 games, 510 of which are smartphone titles. Among the 246 foreign companies looking for success on the Japanese market, one Swiss developer, Etter Studios, was there to promote their game “Plug & Play”.
Away from the blaring sounds and oversized screens of the main exhibition hall, next to the 110 small booths that made up the Indie Games Area this year, “Plug & Play” creator Michael Frei presented his title at the Sense Of Wonder Night. It was one of ten games that were selected for the innovative and creative aspect of their gameplay. This year, they were chosen among 100 applications from 21 countries and regions.
“Plug & Play” was born out of the eponymous animation film created by Michael Frei and lets the player interact with the characters and scenes from the acclaimed movie (about 50mio views on YouTube!). These interactions are wonderfully simple and allow the player to spend most of their time contemplating not only the beautiful graphics, but also the logic and fleeting meaning of the game.
Such a combination creates a gameplay unlike that of any other game, which is exactly what Sense Of Wonder Night was looking for. Its uniqueness pleased the jury and public so much that “Plug & Play” earned the Audience Award as well as the Best Arts Award. Michael Frei, who had last year spent two months on a scholarship in Japan, seemed overwhelmed by the success of the game and admitted during his congratulatory speech that he did not expect such a positive outcome from his second trip to Japan – receiving two awards at once! We are now eagerly awaiting the release of a new animation project he is currently working on.
The game version of “Plug & Play” was created by Michael Frei in collaboration with the developer Mario von Rickenbach. It was produced by the Swiss “Etter Studio”, whose other game “Dreii” had its own booth in the Indie Games Area.
Further reading: Nikkei article.