The BIG Festival is the biggest gaming event in Latin America, bringing the region’s vibrant gaming scene to the world stage with panels, reveals, and an award ceremony.
One of the big winners of the night was Argentinian indie studio An Otter Game Studio, which beat off stiff competition from the likes of Aquiris Game Studio and Icon Games to take home the Best Mobile Game award with its title, Sequenza - a musical puzzle game.
We spoke to An Otter Game Studio founder and director Martín Fernández about the game, the Argentinian games industry, and the award.
Please tell us about An Otter Game Studio and your role in the company
An Otter Game Studio is a new and small studio based in the city of Rosario, Argentina (fun fact for football fans, it's the city where Lionel Messi was born).
We focus on making our games more introspective, making the player feel different emotions than what they are used to experiencing. We have studios such as Ustwo Games and That game company as references.
I am the founder and director of the studio, I make sure that everything works and that the direction we are going in is clear. Due to the size of our studio, I also usually wear the hats of lead programmer and game designer.
What did it mean for your studio to win best mobile game at the BIG Festival awards?
For such a new studio, any industry validation of our work is a huge boost, as we started out with a small portfolio to fall back on when looking for funding for our projects. In addition, the fact that our first game won in its category gives us the reassurance that we are on the right track and that the work we are doing is of high quality.
On the other hand, winning an international competition dispels the notion that many Latin American studios have that we cannot compete with bigger studios with more experience and more resources.
Winning an international competition dispels the notion that many Latin American studios have that we cannot compete with bigger studios with more experience and more resources.
What is it about Sequenza that makes it stand out?
To be honest, when I saw the other games in our category, I didn't think we had a chance, because it was obvious that the other games were great video games with bigger productions. Maybe that is what makes Sequenza stand out, that it is so simple in all aspects and yet manages to evoke intense emotions.
Where do you think Argentina sits in the Latin American gaming landscape?
I think Argentina is clearly growing. I think that because of our history and our culture we have a lot to tell, and videogames are a very good channel to do so.
Unfortunately, the economic situation and bad political administrations do not allow us to grow as fast as we should be growing. That is the only thing that keeps us a little behind the biggest ones (Brazil and Mexico).
Luckily we have a very strong community and we support each other. This can be seen in our national event EVA (Argentinean Videogame Expo) where every year there are more and more of us, and the quality of our games is getting better and better.
I also think we have very good references like Trivia Crack by Etermax in the mobile market, Nimble Giant co-developing Star Trek Infinite, and Senscape co-developing Silent Hill: Ascension in the AAA market or Daniel Benmergui with Storyteller in the indie market among many others. Our industry has a lot to give.
Thinking back over the past couple of years, what is the biggest hurdle you've faced?
The reality is that our biggest obstacle, as I mentioned before, is our national economy, which due to monetary inflation does not allow us to save money and that makes us live day by day with a lot of risk and takes away our projection capacity, especially when we are just starting and we do not have so many tools to counteract it. But it is a problem that all Argentines have to deal with.
Particularly in our studio, what we find most difficult is to find the balance between making games for clients in order to survive and finding time to develop our own games.
Which, if any, new technology in the games industry excites you most?
Honestly, we are not the type to run after technology, we seek to focus more on generating an emotional impact from simplicity, as we did with Sequenza. From a personal point of view, I am intrigued by what may happen with AI once the copyright of the works it feeds on is regularised.
What can we expect next from An Otter Game Studio?
Our first objective is to expand Sequenza, and to be able to reach the widest possible audience. After that, we have several projects in the pipeline at the studio, with which we hope to develop our own aesthetic and identity. These projects explore different mechanics, which aim to take the player on a more introspective journey.