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Runaway launches 1st VR title

The New Zealand-based mobile games studio today announce their move into nature-based VR gameplay with Flutter VR, a relaxing, meditative experience that a player can comfortably immerse themselves in for short gameplay periods and feel utterly transported to the tranquil rainforest.

Created for Daydream by Google, using 3D engine Unity, players can discover butterflies and explore the Amazon in an immersive virtual reality experience.

Take on the role of a researcher and discover the magical beauty of butterflies and moths! Over five days, see the environment change from day to night and rain to sunshine as you meet and discover new creatures. Unlock journal entries by discovering species, photograph each new find and immerse yourself in the relaxing world of the rainforest!

Accessibility has been an important factor in the design and testing of Flutter VR, in terms of designing a game for a number of often overlooked groups.

The game has been designed specifically for women, and also has a strong focus on accessibility for non-VR users and for people with disabilities and limited mobility.

Improving physical accessibility to play has also been a driver. Tested in conjunction with rehabilitation organisation Southern Rehab, Flutter VR was refined as constant user testing feedback was gathered, reducing motion sickness effects and increasing relaxation through the use of a soundtrack evoking ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response).

Flutter VR’s narrative gives it a very particular appeal for new female gamers, an audience group rarely targeted explicitly by the games industry. The narrative of a young woman going on a solo tropical adventure to discover rainforest wildlife is a common theme among bloggers and celebrities. But until now, was not available to experience through the VR lens.

Flutter VR will be available to download on the Google Play Store tomorrow (12 December).

Flutter VR Features:

  • Find and examine real butterfly species up-close, observe their realistic behaviours, and photograph them for your adventure journal
  • Move through the cycles of day-to-night as you camp in the forest, light a fire and meet new creatures as the environment changes with each new day
  • Players of the popular mobile games Flutter and Starlight may recognise some of their favourite species, now available in full 3D, multicolour and movement!
  • Using the Daydream controller’s simple three degrees of freedom, players move easily around the environment, with full body movement from just one hand

Flutter VR is unapologetically a game made for women. As a studio team, this project design, coupled with our past experiences has honed our focus on ensuring we make VR experiences that are accessible to all and have a positive effect on players. It’s all too easy for us as developers to design for the world we are accustomed to living in, in the way we are used to experiencing it. It takes effort to go beyond that. We believe it’s worth it. Game audiences will benefit and grow. VR as a medium will benefit and grow, too,“ said Emma Johansson, Creative Director at Runaway.

The Flutter VR launch follows recent news of the Dunedin-based studio’s expansion moving to a new, larger space and hiring new staff.

The changes continued for the games company with the news that founder and Creative Director Tim Nixon would be moving to Los Angeles, to be replaced by former Art Director Emma Johansson. This will turn Runaway into an all-female leadership studio, with Emma joining Zoe Hobson, Managing Director.

One of Emma’s first directions for the company involves the continuation and sharing of the studio’s success in gender parity (10 of their 26-strong team are women) by launching their “Girls Behind The Games” campaign this month.

Culminating on International Women’s Day 2018, the team will pledge to mentor other young females from the global games industry, while producing positive, proactive content to counter the negativity in mainstream media for girls researching a career in the industry.



About Runaway:
Runaway Play (www.runawayplay.com) is a games developer and publisher based in Dunedin, New Zealand. They build beautifully-designed games inspired by the natural world.

Founded in 2010, Runaway began as the games division of world renowned factual television production company Natural History New Zealand. Their first game was Flutter: Butterfly Sanctuary, originally released for Facebook before they moved to producing mobile games. In 2015 the studio transitioned to being a self publisher.

Runaway now have three existing, non-VR casual mobile games — Flutter: Butterfly Sanctuary, Flutter: Starlight and Splash: Ocean Sanctuary – all follow the theme of collecting nature-based creatures in a relaxing gameplay environment.