5 years of fun, 5 more to come

We made it to the half decade! Rejoice! Tonight will see the usual party-based antics at studio Thought Den, but I’d like to take this opportunity to briefly cast our minds back, and of course to the future. It’d be impossible to thank everyone who needs thanking or fully credit all the talented people that made our success possible so please accept this nip-and-tuck summary.

Birthday cards warmly received.

Year Zero

It all started in the freezing studio of Dan Efergan, now Creative Director at Aardman Digital. As the former director of student talent festival Submerge, Mr Efergan was well placed to bring two bright minds together. We struck up a partnership and talk soon turned to creating our own enterprise.

‘Thought Den” was born in The Pipe & Slippers, just a stone’s throw from our current studio. “Den” is, of course, a conglomeration of Ben and Dan, and conveniently encapsulates our spirit of play. “Thought” is the bit we bring to project planning and represents the substance in our work.

Year One

In 2008 we became founding residents of the Pervasive Media Studio. The class of ’08 also gave birth to the likes of fellow game-makers Mobile Pie and Slingshot Effect. Our first big breaks came courtesy of agencies Team Rubber and Kerve Creative. We also ran around with boxes on our heads to promote “Happy Packages”, an R&D project exploring location-based gift-giving and happiness in a world of digital.

Tom Dowding, Dan Course, Richard Wilson, Ben Templeton

Year Two

In partnership with Team Rubber again we produced a game we’re still very proud of today. “Rapid Fire”, for the Government’s Central Office of Information, drilled home five fire-safety messages through five game modes. 800,000 young people played within two weeks.

Year Three

Now comfortably in our own digs back on Stokes Croft, the client base starts to grow beyond a long-standing relationship with Bournemouth University. The University of Portsmouth ordered a virtual tour, Tate wanted a game about art and the BBC needed to tap the learning potential of something called Augmented Reality.

Year Four

And then along came our hero-project, the gorgeous “Magic Tate Ball”. The app matches artworks to your surroundings by analysing the time of day, date, noise levels, your GPS location and the local weather.

It’s currently averaging 50 downloads a day, over a year after launch, with combined downloads topping 110,000. Dig a little deeper into its conception over on Slideshare.

Magic Tate Ball was followed up with one of the first HTML5 mobile apps to see the light of day. “Survival” for Wildscreen reached 30,000 combined downloads only a few weeks after launch.

Year Five

With our credentials in the arts and culture sector now firmly established, we tackled another research project in the form of “Capture the Museum” for National Museums Scotland. This live game sees two teams roam the museum, competing to claim different galleries as their ‘territory’.

Latest news

Launching only a few weeks ago is this series of animations for Open University delves into the quirky ideologies and history of the world’s most influential design movements. Discover your design alter-ego in a short interactive.

The future

With founding partner and technical director Dan Course heading on to pastures new, it’s an exciting time of change for Thought Den. We’ll continue to deliver innovation to the arts and culture sector. Playful learning will be shouted from the rooftops. The next 5 years will fly by! First, though, there is a party to be had.

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