After 12 years heading up the creative consultancy brand International Hobo (ihobo), and running one of its constituent consultancies from both the UK and the US, Chris Bateman is stepping down from his role as ‘Creative Overlord’ to accept a position as Consulting Researcher at University of Bolton. The move does not affect International Hobo’s consultancies, which will continue to provide expert services in game design, narrative and player satisfaction, and Chris is still available for consultancy work himself.
Chris explains his move as “a natural next step for me”. Since publishing the paper “The Neurobiology of Play” (with Dr. Lennart Nacke) in 2010, Bateman has been gradually moving closer to his research interests in player satisfaction, game design and philosophy. His work on foundations to game aesthetics, published as the Zero Games book Imaginary Games, is the start of a long-term project combining philosophical theories of representation with empirical and practical studies of how and why people play games. His work in the emerging field of game aesthetics (which includes ongoing empirical investigation into the biology of play) finally convinced him to partner with a university with the necessary resources take his research to the next level. He states: “Bolton is delighted to have me as a researcher, a lecturer and as a consultant – and they have actively encouraged me to continue the kind of consultancy work I’ve been doing for the last decade,” adding “I’m sure I can do great things with the talent and resources University of Bolton has at its disposal.”
Relations with universities are nothing new for the International Hobo consultancies. Ernest Adams of ihobo’s Designers Notebook (specialising in game design consultation) has enjoyed close links with the University of Gotland in Sweden for many years, as well as serving as a Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor for the University of Ulster, and teaching at dozens of other institutions. Similarly, Wendy Despain of ihobo’s Quantum Content (which provides game writing services) has been teaching a new generation of game writers at Full Sail, in Florida, while Richard Boon of ihobo’s Story Guy (providing narrative design and scriptwriting consultation) has been lecturing on digital and transmedia narrative for various institutions based in the United Kingdom, including the BBC.
For over a decade, companies under the International Hobo brand have delivered award winning consultancy in game design, concept design, dialogue scripting and narrative support, as well as offering cutting-edge player satisfaction services. It has worked on nearly forty videogames since being established in 1999, including million-selling S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl and Bratz: Rock Angelz titles, cult classics Ghost Master and Discworld Noir, and recent AAA titles such as Cartoon Network Universe: FusionFall and MotorStorm Apocalypse.