The Danish Academy for Interactive Entertainment, also known as DADIU, has chosen to present two new challenges to the new students, that enrolled into the education just a few days ago. Challenge one: The graduation games produced by the students must be based on a Free to Play business model. Challenge two: The graduation games must fit within the casual genre.
“We have done this for several reasons,” explains DADIU teacher, Thomas Howalt. “We need the students to have a deeper understanding of the market earlier in the process, and as a central factor in the game design. Games need players, and we have previously seen the market being percieved as something very abstract.”
But that is not the only reason behind the recent changes. “We also do it to narrow down and specify the task for the students, to get sharper games. We want the students to focus on a solid gameplay and on games, that are clear in their communication,” says Howalt, before he underlines, that this does not in any way mean, that they are less ambitions about the games. “It’s doesn’t mean simple – as you know, simplicity is not a simple thing!”
This direction might seem a bit weird for an education, that has previously produced some very narrative driven and eclectic gaming experiences, such as 1916 – Der unnbekanter krieg, A Mothers Inferno and Blackwell. But on the other hand, the decision also falls in line with recent initiatives from DADIU, that have sought to bring the students productions closer to a real commercial release. That includes last years decision to require all graduation games to be developed for the tablet format, and the recent DADIU Greenhouse-initiative – a spinoff from the education, that serves as an incubator for new game developers, with priority given to students from the education.
Only recently did two DADIU-originated games finally get a commercial release. Late 2013 it was the animal-platform-puzzler Blendimals, and just a few days ago, it was the surreal sleepwalker game Back to Bed, that finally became available as a commercial title. Something that DADIU is definately hoping to speed up with the new initiatives.
With the recent changes in mind, it also looks like DADIU is ready to shed it’s image as a very auteur-driven game education. Originally started as a spinoff from the animation director education at The Danish Film School, up until recently DADIU games were known for their focus on narrative and artistic elements, with considerations around gameplay, market and distribution taking the back seat. In that light, Thomas Howalt’s closing remark, seems to signal a final goodbye to the auteur days of DADIU. “The focus is now on developing games for others, and not for oneself.”
The graduation games for this semester is scheduled to launch December 11th.