EA Mobile veteran's new studio will build games on 'playable data'

EA Mobile veteran's new studio will build games on 'playable data'
James Batchelor

By James Batchelor

July 30th 2015 at 1:23PM

Canada-based dev Icejam turns real-world data into a playable form

Former EA Mobile exec Stuart Duncan has set up a new free-to-play games studio with an intriguing premise.

Icejam, which quietly opened doors in Canada nine months ago, specialises in games based on what the firm refers to as ‘Playable Data’. This platform is said to integrate real-time, real-world data streams in a way that translates statistics into gameplay.

The first game using this system is due in 2016, with more details about what ‘Playable Data’ means released later this year. Concept art for Icejam’s inaugural title can be found on the studio’s site, though it offers little insight into how ‘Playable Data’ works.

Playable data is any dataset or combination of datasets, whether live or historical, global or personal such as data generated by on device sensors that can be used for or contribute to the content of a game,” Duncan writes

“I know this is a broad definition, and almost anything could fit. We see data as effectively a new and widely available valuable raw material that is being massively underexploited. 

“Icejam believes that we are at an inflection point in history with the ubiquity of sensor rich mobile devices capable of amazing content combined with the sheer volume of freely available quality live data, from weather and global stocks to the migration patterns of hummingbirds. 

“While other game developers chase synchronous multiplayer and push ever more triangles in pursuit of engagement, our way forward is engagement though relevance to a player’s life.”

Icejam has already received an initial round of Angel funding, attracted a team of experienced mobile developers and been working hard on proving the ‘Playable Data’ concept.

Duncan himself was previously the founder of Bight Games, which created top-grossing free-to-play games such as The Simpsons: Tapped Out and Trade Nations. Bight Games was later acquired by EA Mobile.