Life as a game | Sunday Observer

Life as a game

The creative team of Arimac
The creative team of Arimac

When you think of mobile and PC games, the first thing that comes to mind is Angry Birds, Minecraft or maybe Flappy Bird. Gaming has come a long way, and with the smart phones it has become even more accessible for players and developers. There are over 22 categories of apps that range from business, finance, games, music, photography, and more. Amongst these categories, gaming leads them all. Why such an enormous number of games? Does a huge supply mean there is a big demand? You don’t need statistics for this one, just look around and watch as you see people hunched over their phones. They are either playing a game or interacting on a social network. All you need is your imagination, time and a love for video games.

Youth Observer is in conversation with Chamira Jayasinghe – CEO, Arimac Digital and Thilina Premasiri – Director and Head of Gaming to find out more.

Q: Tell us how Arimac came in to being- How it all started?

It was back in 2008; Chinthaka Sandaruwan and I came up with this creative plan. We are Co-founders of Arimac, we were simply freelancers. Inside the SLIIT incubation space in Malabe, we worked on the occasional odd coding jobs while pursuing our degrees. However, in 2011, we decided that we didn’t want to pursue ordinary careers. We wanted to build a business that offered a space for creatives to work and explore their ideas with new technology. Furthermore, we wanted to reduce the brain drain of such individuals in Sri Lanka. Thus, we filled out the documents, registered the business, and Arimac was officially born.

Q:Your video game inspired artwork is something you’ve been posting. What is the difference between ‘fan art’ and ‘art, and where does your work lie?

If we talk about the artwork of our gamification projects, it’s 100% originally created by our inhouse graphic/creative team. Even though we have been inspired by certain legendary icons, the artwork does not necessarily impersonate their features. For an example, Nero - it is inspired by the famed Sri Lankan sniper Ranjith Premasiri Madalana but the character we designed/created doesn’t recreate his real-life features.

Q:The work captures fictional moments in time. What compels you to spend so many hours bringing these scenes - some iconic, some atypical - to life?

It’s basically the passion of our developers and creative directors. Because their ultimate goal is to develop AAA (Triple – A) PC games using the local talent and expertise and to pinpoint Sri Lanka on the world map as a gaming development destination.

Q: Tell us about the latest creation-Nero and what inspired the name?

Nero was inspired by the famed Sri Lankan sniper, Ranjith PremasiriMadalana – who was one of the ten best snipers in the world. The game story line is totally fictional and does not in anyway showcase the civil war with the LTTE. The storyline depicts the emotional journey of Nero and his mates while on the battlefield.

Nero will be released in the form of a comic book series, a 3-Dimensional PC game and a mobile game.

Nero comic book will be the first-ever comic book in Sri Lanka which will be created based on a video game. Considering the popularity after the release of the first comic book, it will be released as a comic book series in the future.

It’s a coincidence! the initial thought was to name the game as KANCHAYUDHA-2. But when we were doing the design phase, we got to know about the hardships faced by Nero/Ranjith Premasiri’s family. So, our team decided like “why can’t we do something for our heroes who fought for our country.” Therefore, we decided to use the NERO as a tribute to them.

Q: Let’s talk specific pieces. What have been the most popular pieces, and conversely, which have not been appreciated as much?

In 2016 we launched Sri Lanka’s first ever PC game which was developed by a local company called Kanchayudha. It was a huge hit and many appreciated the effort we put and the risk we took to launch a PC game in Sri Lanka. It was done by highly talented creative artists and game developers and created a platform for other game developers in Sri Lanka to think of what they can do.

And fortunately, to this day- we do not have a single under-appreciated piece of work created within Arimac. Our team is driven by passion, inspiration and creativity. Hence, everything we create, comes out as expected (in some case, beyond expectations) and we have received an amazing response from our clients and fans.

Q:The work is digital, yes? What types of tools are used?

Yes! Most of our work is digital, which makes us different-unique from our competitors of the same domain. The work we do is not limited to a specific set of tools, since the digital world is always changing. We mustconstantly learn new techniques and be updated,to be on par with the technological developments and advancements. For example, we are the only company in Sri Lanka, who works with Facebook and SnapChat to create AR filters for their cameras. And we have already worked with UNDP - Germany to create AR filters for a Global Sustainability Goals campaign which was a huge success in creating awareness on those goals.

Q: When did you first realise that people really liked your work? How did you’ll settle on video games as your focus?

Mainly from the game Kanchayudha, we learned that Sri Lankans love to play local games and they appreciate local talent. So, we understood that we must take the forefront in the Sri Lankan gaming industry and be the trend-setter in that domain. Hence, we have built a fully fledge. Studio with talented local art directors and game developers to create unique mobile and PC games and it was a huge boost to start the development of NERO.

Also, without a doubt, what made us settle on this video game development industry is the love and support we received from everyone who believed in our work since day one. And, it is also the undying passion and motivation within the team to create and give life to their imagination. Everyone is 100% stress-free; never pressured or stressed to complete a task - which we think, is the reason behind our accelerated delivery beyond expectations!

Q: Talk me through the creative

process of any one of your pieces?

Creativity is purely a mind game; it depends on the person’s ability for imagination and output of that imagination. And we finalise the idea of what the outcome would be through brain storming sessions.

Q:So, Chamira, have you ever worked as a concept artist for a studio?

Nope! I’m an Engineer by profession.

Q: Have you ever heard back from any game artists or creators regarding any of your pieces?

Yes. We receive amazing responses from global companies, and they were all positive and empowering. But we cannot confirm or revealnames.

Q: What is IMI games? How is it any different from any other game development scenarios in Sri Lanka?

Basically, ‘IMI games’is a local mini or hyper casual gaming platform operated as a mobile application. This platform enables the team at Arimac and also external parties-specially budding game developers- to create and showcase their talents across the globe in terms of game development.

IMI games have a bunch of authentic Sri Lankan games with localised names such as dadinbidin and Tuktuk which helps to take that pure Sri Lankan essence globally.

Q: How many fans do you have?

Currently we have over 100,000 followers for our Kanchayudha Facebook page.

Q:Any message to be shared with the young generation who are willing to enter the game development industry?

Never be afraid to take risks! People tend to move away from Triple AAA gaming, thinking that it needs huge budgets and man power, but through all our game development projects we aim to vanquish that fear within the impending or budding developers. We want people to know that we can create games in Sri Lanka and we necessarily will not need heavy budgets or man power. -MH

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