Northern Ireland’s Game Studio of the Year Nominated for Raindance Film Festival Immersive Summit Award

Northern Irish game development studio, Italic Pig , has been nominated for Best Immersive Game at the upcoming Raindance Film Festival .

The Raindance Film Festival, taking place between September 19 - 26, 2019 in London, features the Immersive Summit, which is an annual symposium of eye-opening talks and panel discussions, shining the spotlight on leading creators and emerging voices from around the world. Raindance is committed to championing the creators who are pushing the artistic boundaries in the mediums of Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality.

Italic Pig’s The Infinite Hotel is a character-driven VR adventure that boasts “A grand scale adventure in a room scale space”. Set in a hotel with an infinite number of floors, the player takes on the role of elevator operator to the weird and quirky staff and patrons of the universe’s most luxurious holiday resort.

Being nominated for the Best Immersive Game is not the first time that The Infinite Hotel has received critical acclaim. The game won The Big Indie Pitch at PocketGamer London and earned a highly regarded Best In Play award at GDC San Francisco. Both Oculus & HTC have shown genuine interest, and the demo has been compared to “stepping into a Pixar film”.

“What interests me in VR,” adds Kevin, “is that it hasn’t had its ‘Fruit Ninja’ moment yet. I’m not saying I’m looking for Fruit Ninja VR, but Fruit Ninja as a metaphor representing a new game mechanic that truly embraced and catered to touchscreen mobile. VR is still in its infancy, and as far as I can tell, people are still searching for the new mechanic that is ‘special’ to VR – not a port, not a reskinning, but a unique, purist experience for the medium. As someone who likes to mess with expectations and experimentally mash genres together, it’s the absence of hard rules that excites me most.”

The premise for The Infinite Hotel came from working within VR’s key limitation - physical space - rather than fighting against it with workarounds like teleportation, autorun or stick controls.

The first event of the Immersive Summit will take place at the Vue Piccadilly Cinema on 26th September between 10:30 - 5:30pm. As part of the Immersive Games Panel, Kevin Beimers, CEO of Italic Pig, will be talking about the creation of The Infinite Hotel and the challenges and opportunities that VR presents for storytellers.

The project originally entered development through the support of both the Creative Europe MEDIA Sub-Programme and Northern Ireland Screen, and has most recently been supported by Future Screens NI and HTC Viveport. Italic Pig is currently looking for adventurous partners to help fund and support the completion of The Infinite Hotel.

Trailer for The Infinite Hotel

About Raindance Immersive Summit

About Italic Pig


Italic Pig is a kickass Northern Irish entertainment studio filled with creative, talented and attractive individuals. We create sarcastically epic, narrative-driven stories for all audiences and platforms, and occasionally win awards for them.

About Kevin Beimers

Creator/Director Kevin Beimers entered the games industry nine years ago by way of programming, web development, animation, art direction and scriptwriting. His first release under Italic Pig was published by Team17, and was nominated by the Writers’ Guilds of Ireland & Great Britain. He’s a regular speaker at worldwide gaming events, has won multiple Big Indie Pitch competitions, a Big Indie Award and a GDC Best In Play.

Future Screens NI: A Framework to Deliver Opportunity and Growth within the Creative Industries

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According to the most recent data produced by DCMS, the Creative Industries has the most jobs (2.0 million). Growth is also apparent within the Digital Sector which accounts for 1.5 million jobs.  The number of jobs in the Creative Industries increased by 30.6% from 2011: three times the growth rate of employment in the UK overall (10.1%) (DCMS, 2019[1]).  The most recent figures from DCMS show that within Creative Industries, Digital and Telecoms sectors, fewer than 10% of jobs were held by those considered ‘less advantaged’, compared to the UK average of (32.3%)[2].  The Creative industries and the Digital have higher levels of participation of BAME and a greater proportion of employees who were born outside of the UK.  These figures illustrate that capacity exists within the Creative sector to realise diversity and inclusion as exemplified through significant capacity for expansion and some evidence of greater diversity.  That said the challenge of delivering diversity and inclusion persists. 

Nowhere is this challenge more paramount than within the Northern Ireland context.  Northern Ireland represents a society transitioning out of a prolonged conflict.  Growth and expansion within the Creative Industries within the Northern Ireland context presents the opportunity to create employment that transcends beyond the challenges of sectarian divisions and in doing so presents opportunities to those people and communities who have as yet been unable to fully benefit.  Future Screen NI which is a £13mn creative cluster in Northern Ireland funded by the Industrial Strategy via the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), as well as the industry has openly identified this challenge and taken measures to resolve it.  These measures although at an early stage of development have the potential to transform both the creative and employment landscape within the NI context. 

The NI Creative Industries Cluster has the potential to be a sustainable creative ecosystem operating at local, national and international levels. It is built upon well-developed resilient and tacit networks and supports, economic, cultural, and social, whilst also having the clear potential for new, exciting and economically sustainable international capabilities. For a region emerging from a period of conflict and social and cultural division and dysfunction, the creative industries sector offers an alternative and successful paradigm for economic attainment, cultural expression, and personal growth. This has generated the potential for the creative industries to provide a more neutral space in a transitional period (outside the accepted cultures of binary opposition), differences between approaches to education and skills across divided communities, and the impact of deindustrialization (especially in working class communities). Whilst recognising that there is need to construct new narratives for the region, which are grounded in the economic, creative, social, and cultural ecology of Northern Ireland, and to bring these stories to the communities where they can most make a difference.

In order to achieve this the project has embarked upon a Future Focused Research and Development Stream with the overall aim of widening participation in the creative industries.  This ambitious endeavour is built upon a partnership developed between the Future Screens NI and the World Building Institute in Los Angeles which is led by Future Technologist, Alex McDowell, also well-known for his role as the Creative Director of the Minority Report.  World building is a design practice which has been applied to significant societal challenges in a variety of contexts including Berlin and Saudi Arabia.  The holistic and collaborative structure which is applied through world building is particularly relevant within the NI context given the unique nature of both the traditional and creative economy, and the significant socio-cultural challenges that persist within a society transitioning from a prolonged conflict.  The location of world building within both organic and fluid narrative presents the potential to devise a new framework which can be applied across a variety of significant challenges which persist including the need to generate a social and cultural dividend alongside economic growth, to build inclusivity and to both generate and share prosperity, particularly within communities and populations considered to be left behind.  The world building approach both identifies and listens to domain expertise that extends beyond the technical knowledge of both design and production generating seeds which can build a framework with the capacity to propel the development of infrastructure, generate and utilise resources, identify and resolve societal or cultural challenges, empower people and build capacity (McDowell, 2019)[3]. The framework will pioneer new technologies with the overall aim of sharing human and financial resources with those who have as yet been excluded.

There are of course already existing examples of good practice within the NI context.  The Gaming industry in NI includes a proliferation of young women entrepreneurs who are at the forefront of technical advances within the region.  The region is also home to a number of unique initiative which have the overall aim of broadening access to the creative industries.  Future Screens NI have funded an initiative with Farset Labs and researchers at Queen’s University Belfast which is exploring the ways in which immersive sound spaces can provide an accessible creative space for disabled musicians.  The region is also home to Paper Owl who developed the children’s TV series Pablo which follows the adventures of a five year old autistic boy. 

The region also has recognised strengths and unrealised potential in VR/AR, Machine Learning and Data Analytics.  Future Screens NI has the potential to act as vehicle to stimulate the creative industries and digital sector in a manner which advances the whole of society whilst recognising the need to apply technology towards addressing economic societal challenges in order to achieve better outcomes for the economy, society and the environment.  The World Building has the potential be extended towards addressing both the local and global challenge of developing technology for good.

Whilst Future Screens NI identified the need to leverage the social and economic dividend from investment in the Creative industries and is developing a mechanism to deliver greater diversity and inclusion building upon the uniqueness of both the expertise and challenges within the region.  There remains the added challenge to government to ensure that data and policy developments keep up.



McDowell, A., (2019) Storytelling shapes the future, Journal of Futures Studies 23(3):105-112


The World Building Institute Comes to Belfast

Over the last few months Future Screens NI has been in negotiation with Alex McDowell ( of the World Building Institute ( with a view to developing a project aimed at creating a future vision for the creative industries in NI which could bring together the industry and local people, particularly those who have felt most disenfranchised from the economic growth Belfast (and the region in general) has been enjoying.

We have great pleasure in announcing that Alex McDowell has accepted the invitation to work with us and will be making an initial project scoping visit to Belfast at the end of May as part of the leadership work Future Screens NI is committed to supporting. While there is much to be planned and developed the general thrust of the work will involve the design and construction of a Story Machine. The exact nature of this machine, both in terms of technology and content will be dependent on input from as many voices as possible, industry, community groups, community activists, government bodies and interested individual artists and creatives. 

We are in the process of developing a detailed schedule for Alex’s three day visit and will be liaising with key stakeholders over the next couple of weeks to ensure as many voices as possible can contribute to the work. We look forward to having your input and as they say in all the best cliched articles - watch this space.


Alex McDowell Professor of Practice at the World Building Institute

Future Screens NI Funding Call Launch

Ormeau Baths, 8:30 April 5th 2019

Despite the ongoing uncertainty about the EU, and a negative economic outlook grounded in contemporary global political and environmental turmoil, it was refreshing, indeed inspiring, to see the high level of positivity in the room at the launch of the Future Screens NI funding calls. Over one hundred companies representing every screen sector in NI filled the main meeting room at the Ormeau Baths, Belfast. As one senior figure from a key development body pointed out it was an astonishing turnout for 8:30 on a wet Belfast morning.


The purpose of the event was to launch the funding calls for the AHRC funded Creative Clusters programme. The cluster in NI (one of nine across the UK) brings together Ulster, QUB and local industrial partners, and funding is available through this partnership to promote R&D in the screens industries, specifically games, animation, immersive technologies and film and broadcast. The cluster will also support these industries with capacity building in leadership and financial procedures while gathering key data which can be used to promote regional (and national) policy development in the area. 

Prof Paul Moore, Director of Future Screens NI

Prof Paul Moore, Director of Future Screens NI

 The funding model created by the Future Screens NI Management Team and approved by the Steering Board, evolved from discussions with the industrial partners and local creative businesses. These discussions illustrated that there was a need for access to funding on a rolling basis, often small sums, but sums which could prove crucial to a company. Hence the initial approach for funding to Future Screens NI will be through an expression of interest form, a one page document which captures the key information about any proposed R&D. Future Screens NI undertakes to reply to these forms within two weeks indicating whether a company should proceed with a full application or whether more clarity is needed.

Twice each year Future Screens NI will also issue Challenge calls, possibly larger amounts aimed at R&D which might advance the sector as a whole and based on trends emanating from relevant research. Prof Michael Alcorn outlined the process for application and this prompted a number of useful questions, and it was an opportunity to underline the fact that these processes may have to be adapted as they roll out and that feedback from the companies involved is central to this ongoing process.

 There was significant interest also in the support schemes related to the funding, whether for fellowships whereby companies can link up with a researcher in either of the universities to develop an experimental prototype (this can be researcher into business or business employee into the university) or the writing and production design workshops which will be offered on a rolling basis. 


 Friday morning also saw the launch of the Future Screens NI web presence at futurescreens.organd all the relevant forms can be downloaded from the site which also has details of all the researchers attached to the cluster. It is perhaps worth mentioning that other researchers with expertise relevant to an R&D project can of course be used. 

 The morning finished, as all early morning events should, with breakfast, and the opportunity to speak more informally about the possibilities the Future Screens NI cluster offers.  A sincere thank you to all who attended and the energy, enthusiasm and positivity present on Friday morning was an indication that this is an exciting time to be involved in the creative industries in this region.

 If you need any further clarification on any aspect of funding or support Future Screens NI can offer your company please contact us here.