They are the Kings of the Castle


Massive Monster

Directors Jay Armstrong and Jimp Pearmain

No longer seen as the preserve of geeks, gaming is officially cool and Massive Monster is a Southampton-based production company on the cusp of major success in 2017.

Letting their imagination’s run wild is at the core of everything they do at Massive Monster.

While some companies say they put a premium on thinking outside the box, Massive Monster insists on trampling all over the box in the quest for creative thinking - and it is this activity that sets them apart from their competitors.

“We throw ideas around and dismiss the ones that aren’t weird enough. We need to come up with things that are as wacky and crazy as possible,” said Jimp Pearmain, with a cheeky grin.

“We need to be different and you need to have weird ideas to set you apart from the others.

“There are lots of adventure games out there but there aren’t many that have you running around with a giraffe in your backpack that helps you fly around.”

For the past couple of years, directors Jimp and Jay Armstrong have been working hard on two games - The Adventure Pals and Never Give Up - that will launch in 2017 and excitement in the gaming world is growing by the day.

“We started Massive Monster two years ago and within six months we had a contract with our publishers Armor Games to produce two games that will be released in 2017,” recalled Jimp.

Making their colourful ideas a reality has been helped by being based at one of the most unusual and inspiring addresses in the city. When they speak to others in the gaming world, the Massive Monster team take great delight in telling them they work in a castle complete with crenelated walls.

“When we came to The Tower, which is run by A-space, we thought it was great.

“We applied and when a space became available, we became the first video game company to join the traditional artists and designers who are based here,” explained Jimp.

The Adventure Pals and Never Give Up have been promoted at international expos in Boston, Tokyo, Birmingham and London.

“There are lots of adventure games out there but there aren’t many that have you running around with a giraffe in your backpack that helps you fly around.”

At these major events Massive Monster get to meet the people playing their games and it is the perfect opportunity to fine tune details.

“Hidden away in the castle we don’t get to see people playing our games so when we go to these expos it is great to see kids and parents playing and laughing.

“At the last expo we went to we had people coming up to us and they knew all about the games beforehand so that was great,” said Jay, who studied government and politics and did a Masters in geo-politics.

Originally he had plans to work in the Foreign Office or Ministry of Defence but decided to follow his creative side by setting up Massive Monster with Jimp.

Jimp and Jay have recently been working with intern James Quinn who was studying programming at Southampton Solent University but gave up in favour of real life experience and he hasn’t regretted his choice.

“I was looking around for somewhere to get experience and now I’m doing exactly what I wanted to be doing,” James said. 

While the programming and technical work is done in Southampton, Massive Monster works with Julian Wilton an artist in Sydney to create the colourful 2D characters that make their games so distinctive.

“He’s ridiculously talented. I knew him through the old web gaming scene and even though we are in touch daily I’ve only ever met him twice.

“The time difference works for us and he is able to attend expos in that hemisphere too so he went to Tokyo for us,” said Jay. 

Gaming is big business.  Fve times larger than the music industry and 1.5 times larger than the film industry, sales of games are set to reach £75bn.

YouTube’s most popular channel is that of PewDiePie – Felix Kjellberg – a 25-year-old Swede who has gathered millions of followers keen to listen to what he has to say as he plays horror and comedy games.

The whole concept of watching others play video games may seem baffling (PewDiePie has more followers than Rihanna and One Direction) but these influencers can make the difference between the game being a global success or not.

As a result game trailers have become really important and the whole industry has been a pioneer when it comes to crowdfunding.

“For the independent gaming industry this has been a tried and tested route to market that means you don’t have to work with a publisher.

“We got crowd funding to help us with the cost of publicising the game and for the final push to the end.

“There is a crowdfunding convention coming up in Shoreditch and we are going to be speaking there about our experiences,” said Jimp.

Regarding their decision to start a business in Southampton, Massive Monster have no regrets.

“There are great connections to London and the city is seeing a lot of money being pumped into it at the moment. Jay strongly believes that games are a great way of businesses improving their brand recognition in a powerful but fun way.

“Games have become ubiquitous among millennials and anyone with a modern phone and companies who don’t use games to reach their audience can risk being left behind.

“We are keen to improve our business links in Southampton and are aiming to become the ‘go-to’ game development business in the city,” he said.

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