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Developing a Productive Entertainment Platform - Startacus chats with Playtank

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by Startacus Admin

PlayTank is currently developing what they call a productive entertainment platform with a goal to make it easier for people to get into the process of taking that first big step with the creative ideas that they have.

Users will be able to develop and seek feedback by matching their wits and skills against each other while collectively developing compelling and creative ideas, projects and concepts.

With a similar mindset to Startacus itself, we were chuffed when Playtank added their idea to the Startacus virtual workspace and made public some of the project areas where they would like to get other members to join in and collaborate. It seemed fitting therefore for us to chat with Toby Farren, Creative Director of Playtank to find out a little more about their business and what we could all do to help!

Removing barriers which can stop that big idea or creative spark from becoming a reality is a big thing for Startacus, so we love the idea behind Playtank - can you explain it in a little more detail?Playtank

When we were growing up as kids, much of the creative and digital media we consumed (cartoons; comics; video and board games etc…) was fed to us via small groups of decision makers, who were generally part of corporate ecosystems. While the quality of these works was definitely admirable, mostly due to large budgets, it was unfortunate that our media culture had become homogenized and spoon fed in the process of rising production values. Niche audiences were ignored, and creativity took a back seat to profit.

In recent years, thanks to a new generation of people; who have grown up with complete and virtually uninterrupted access to the internet, the concept of sharing and collaboration has never been stronger in our society. Suddenly, the ideas that media needs to be micromanaged; that creativity needs to be on a leash; are beginning to seem outdated and stale, almost repugnant.

Recently, platforms including Kickstarter; Reddit; Steam GreenLight and AirBnB have opened previously closed life paths off to the vast majority of the world, redefining the way in which creative endeavours can be funded; news is reported; games are made available for distribution; and providing a greener and more personalised vacation accommodation experience. We believe this trend of crowd on crowd interaction, be that social; commercial; recreational etc… is one which is going to continue to grow in coming years, diminishing the need for over management and large publishing deals from small groups of investors.

With PlayTank, we’re trying our best to help implement this concept into the production of creative collaborative projects. Using mechanics from the interactive digital media/video game world, a process known as gamification, we’ve aimed to build a platform that not only provides a place for creatives to grow their skills and confidence; collaborate with others from across the world; and discover the power of the crowd; but also one that engages and immerses the user. Examples of these mechanics include contextual narrative; co-operative and competitive play; intrinsic motivators; progression balancing; Leaderboards and more.

How did you yourselves take that step from idea to conception and then development?

For the first few months, post-conception, we really didn’t know what we were doing. In truth, it was the fantastic support from both the Irish game development and tech startup communities in Dublin, as well as institutions such as Enterprise Ireland, which allowed us to really build on our idea and move it forward. This is our first commercial project, so I don’t want to assume it works this way every time, and for everyone, but I believe going to networking events and talking about your idea as much as possible is one of the best things you can do. The feedback you get from like-minded people will be instrumental in the evolution of your concept. PlayTank as it exists today would be nothing without the support we received from others. With hindsight, concentrating on getting a minimum viable product operational and testing it in the communities around you is probably one of the best ways to move forward. Couple that with a business model canvas and you can start building momentum from there.

What are the plans and timescales for taking the Playtank platform to market?

Startacus virtual workspaceWe’re currently about half way through the frontend development of PlayTank. We have also recently started the planning and architecture of our backend; database and metrics systems. We hope to launch a closed Alpha version of the PlayTank platform some time Q3 2013, and follow up with a public beta launch in late 2013, early 2014.

We couldn't help but notice that you have added a couple of projects to the Collaboration workspace on Startacus. What help do you currently need to take PlayTank forward and how can Startacus members potentially help?

At the moment, one of the biggest hurdles we’ve faced so far is in the complex IP law that goes hand in hand with collaboration. Apart from legal advice, we’re always on the lookout for skilled programmers and data scientists. 

Good luck to Playtank and if you feel you can help them with the above - join Startacus and request to help! 

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Published on: 16th April 2013

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