Local company Other Ocean are on the cutting edge of the video game industry, earning an Emmy nomination and worldwide praise
A Newfoundland based company can now add Emmy nominee to their list of accomplishments. Other Ocean Interactive, with a studio based out of St. John’s, has been nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media Within A Scripted Program, for their work on the groundbreaking console game, Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality.
“It was a collaborative project,” explains Other Ocean’ Interactive’s St. John’s studio head Deirdre Ayre on the nomination the team shares with Owlchemy Labs and Adult Swim Games. “Honestly, we were so excited to be a part of this project. This is sort of icing on the cake. To be a part of an IP like that was an amazing opportunity for the company. We’ve worked on a lot of really great brands, and this is one of them.”
For Other Ocean, it was their tedious and expansive work through their original creation, Giant Cop, made with the help of funding from the Canada Media Fund, that truly served as a precursor to working on a thriving franchise like Rick and Morty.
“It gave us the opportunity to cut our teeth in the VR (virtual reality) space,” explains Ayre. “We really were able to get a ton of experience working in VR for Other Ocean, but also for the testing side of our business too. Without that experience we never would have landed the Rick and Morty project.
“I really think it’s important for companies like ours that get that support from government. Very few countries in the world offer programs like that. Funding to actually build your own IP, and significant funding, that’s a very unusual thing. It’s really amazing that the federal government and the other stakeholders support companies like ours that work on that. This is the perfect example of being able to move on to bigger things because of it.”
The Cutting Edge
The roots of Other Ocean can be traced back to California, where Deirdre’s brother, Andrew Ayre, relocated in the late 1980s, capitalizing on the rise of Silicon Valley. Decades later, and with a thriving company at his disposal, Andrew was contacted by the government of Prince Edward Island to build a studio in Charlottetown. Deirdre came on board with a business plan, inevitably becoming studio head of the PEI branch in 2006.
When Andrew exited the Foundation Nine corporation, he retained the Charlottetown branch, keeping with it the thriving reputation of working on the cutting edge and a reliability in the industry. Now known as Other Ocean, Danny Williams and the Department of Business aggressively pursued the company to erect a headquarters in St. John’s. That would become a reality in 2008.
Today Other Ocean operates offices and testing facilities out of St. John’s, Charlottetown and Emeryville, California, with six branches ensuring that the company is thriving and on the forefront of industry standards.
“When we started it was just really before iPhone,” Deirdre explains. “Companies who were doing cellphone games were almost half embarrassed to say they were doing them. That might not be fair to say, but that’s what it was. The iPhone changed all that, hugely. We had one of the first games on the app store with Monkey Ball. We’ve been first to platform quite a bit with projects. It’s kind of our M.O. really. I’m not really sure we set out to be that company, but that’s kind of how it’s worked out for us. Sometimes it might not be the best business decision to be first at something, because you’ve got to figure it all out, sometimes it might be better to be the one coming right behind, but from a talent perspective, working on new stuff and new technology is something that really keeps your employees excited and interested. There’s that challenge to it too.”
Having worked on massive worldwide titles like The Simpsons: Tapped Out, Mortal Kombat: Arcade Edition and Minecraft: New Nintendo 3DS Edition, Other Ocean is no stranger to tackling projects of massive significance. The Emmy nomination is just another feather in the cap, and the gravy that comes with seeing a flourishing industry thrive in Atlantic Canada, and indeed, Newfoundland and Labrador.
‘Profile of Our People’
“It feels really good to be apart of something that helps our profile and the profile of our people,” says Deirdre. “Most of the people who worked on the Rick and Morty project for our company are people who grew up here or grew up in Charlottetown. Not to take anything away from our international employees, but from a provincial pride point of view it’s nice to know that you’re helping to create work that is exciting, well paying and interesting for people to stay here and feel like they’re doing something on a global level. It’s wonderful for us to give them that avenue to do that and stay here. It’s pretty cool to say that we’ve done that.”
For more on Other Ocean Interactive visit otherocean.com. The 70th annual Primetime Emmys take place in Los Angeles on September 17th.