One of the world’s most successful game design, narrative design and scriptwriting consultancies, International Hobo is an alliance of the best creative talent in the videogames industry. Games the company has worked upon have collectively sold more than 10 million units, and franchises its members have worked on have sold in excess of 80 million units.
The company has worked on titles targeting the core audience for videogames such as S.T.A.L.K.E.R. (2 million units), as well as titles targeting more unusual audiences, such as Bratz: Rock Angelz (1.4 million units). It provided the first proof that external game design was a viable proposition with Ghost Master (90% review score in PC Gamer), and has also worked on chart topping titles like Reservoir Dogs.
The members of International Hobo have worked on major game projects for the world’s largest publishers, including Electronic Arts, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, Ubisoft, THQ, Take 2, Namco, Atari, Eidos, Codemasters, Vivendi Universal, SCi, 3DO, and Turner Interactive.
International Hobo Ltd
The core team for International Hobo (also known as ihobo) operate out of the UK office in Manchester, under the leadership of Chris Bateman, who worked on three tabletop role-playing games, and several point-and-click adventurers before founding International Hobo in 1999. His script for Discworld Noir is highly regarded, and was praised by The Times newspaper as “the best scripted game we have seen.” Will Wright described Chris’s design for Ghost Master as “the best I’ve seen so far” in terms of following in the footsteps of his hugely successful brand, The Sims.
As well as working on more than twenty successful videogame titles across all platforms, International Hobo has had a prominent role in developing and sharing the skills and knowledge required to make commercially successful games, and have lectured on game design and game writing around the world, including for the BBC. In 2003, the company was nominated for the prestigious Develop Industry Excellence Award.
Along with Rich Dansky (recently named as one of the Top 20 Game Writers), Chris founded the IGDA’s Game Writers’ Special Interest Group in 2002, and served on the executive panel for the group for five years, producing an award-nominated book, Game Writing: Narrative Skills for Videogames. In 2007, the IGDA awarded Chris their prestigious MVP Award for "for outstanding and immeasurable contributions to the IGDA and the betterment of the game development community.”
The core team’s specialities are role-playing games, toyplay sims, platform games, and games targeting unconventional audiences. They are a registered developer for Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo.
Ernest Adams Design Consulting and Training
In 2001, Ernest Adams’ consultancy joined International Hobo, providing direct consultancy services, as well as design advice and professional training, to some of the world’s leading companies. With twenty years of experience in the games industry, eight of them with the world’s largest publisher, Electronic Arts, Ernest is one of the most famous game designers working in the industry today.
Ernest's best-known work was the multi-million selling Madden NFL Football franchise. He also worked on the popular Dungeon Keeper franchise while at famed British developer Bullfrog. Ernest founded the International Game Developers’ Association, and was instrumental in the early years of the Game Developers’ Conference, at which he has lectured every year. His book, Fundamentals of Game Design, is considered one of the essential reference works on the subject of designing videogames.
Wendy Despain’s consultancy, Quantum Content, joined International Hobo in 2007. Wendy came to videogames after extensive experience in television, having worked on numerous shows including the posthumous Gene Roddenberry science fiction adventures Andromeda and Earth: Final Conflict, the Marvel TV show Mutant X, and fantasy adventure show BeastMaster, based on the novel by Andre Norton, which was also made into a film in 1982.
Wendy is one of the most influential figures in videogame writing, having served as Chair of the IGDA’s Writing SIG for several years. She edited and contributed to two books with the SIG, Professional Techniques for Video Game Writing and Writing for Video Game Genres: From FPS to RPG. Her videogames include the MMORPGs Archlord (half a million subscribers) and FusionFall, as well as numerous children’s titles, such as Bratz: Forever Diamondz and Jakers! Let’s Explore!
In 2008 Wendy was invited to join the exclusive game design think-tank Project Horseshoe, and contributes to the Virtual Policy Network as they explore the policy implications of virtual worlds. She is also a frequent contributor to the industry magazine The Escapist. She has been on the faculty for GDC every year since 2007, and Austin GDC since 2006.
Quantum Content’s specialities include children’s games, Alternate Reality Games (ARGs), and MMORPGs, with experience working on both fantasy and science fiction settings.
International Hobo is a world leader in modelling the audience for games. In 2005, they published their acclaimed book 21st Century Game Design, by Chris Bateman and fellow ihobo member Richard Boon. As well as exploring the diverse techniques for game design, the book also describes the DGD1 model, which along with Richard Bartle’s typing system for MMORPGs and Nicole Lazzaro’s Four Fun Keys, is one of the most heavily referenced models of play. In 2008, Chris was invited to join the IEEE's Task Force on Player Satisfaction Modelling.
A new book entitled Beyond Game Design: Nine Steps Towards Creating Better Videogames was recently published, and contains substantial material by Chris Bateman, who also served as editor. The book contains essays by some of the industry’s most influential individuals – Nicole Lazzaro, Katherine Isbister, Noah Falstein, Sheri Graner Ray, Michelle Hinn, Joseph Saulter and Richard Bartle – covering ways of modelling and understanding play, as well as discussions on how to maximise the potential for videogames by expanding their appeal to everyone.
International Hobo’s new audience model, BrainHex, based upon the latest research connecting neurobiology to videogame play, some of which has been published here on this site, will be launched later in 2009.
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