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Indie gaming has had a renaissance in recent years with hit games such as Flower and Braid. Using that as its inspiration, a team in New Zealand started Runaway, a social game studio that will focus on alternative entertainment.

The Dunedin, N.Z.-based studio’s first game is Flutter, where you play the role of a butterfly in the Amazon rainforest. You can fly through one of the most bio-diverse regions of the planet, pollinate flowers and avoid natural predators. Yes, I suspect there are no guns in this game. While it sounds quirky, this indie alternative genre has seen some big successes such as thatgamecompany’s Flower, where you play the wind in the dream of a flower in the middle of a decaying city.

The point is to provide a fresh experience for gamers in an industry that has become stale with sequels and blockbusters. Tim Nixon, director of Runaway, has been focused for five years on what he calls “meaningful play.” These are games that are not only entertaining, but also inspiring and informative. The first game will have a cool visual style and tropical sounds that will make you feel like you’re immersed in the rainforest. The game is social because you can explore the world with your friends and share what you find with them. The beta is expected to go live in May and the company will introduce new species, plants, decorations, challenges and a story over time

““We’ve put a lot of time into crafting a world and style that will not only appeal to mass audiences, but give a sense of purpose and meaning to their play through the games attachment to an incredible real world environment that is under a very real threat,” Nixon said.

The company was founded in 2009 as an independent division of film documentary studio NHNZ. It joins a long list of indie companies that are trying to make their mark on platforms that are inexpensive to develop for, such as web-based Flash games, iPhone games, and Facebook games. Runaway has five employees and unspecified seed funding from Natural History New Zealand for its first game.


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