Video game studio co-founded by former Helena Romanes School pupil is named one of the most ‘exciting’ companies in the country

L-R: Rich Metson with co-founder Pontus Schönberg and programmer Steve Allen. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

L-R: Rich Metson with co-founder Pontus Schönberg and programmer Steve Allen. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

A former sculpter who grew up in a farm near little Dunmow has co-founded a video game studio which has been named by Creative England as one of most exciting creative companies in the country.

Former Helena Romanes School pupil Rich Metson founded the company Semaeopus, which was included Creative England’s list of the 50 most innovating individuals and organisations, in 2014 with Pontus Schönberg.

In the game, called Off Grid, rather than guns and grenades, personal data is the weapon of choice.

The player is a techniphobic dad who must find his hacker daughter, using other characters’ personal data to manipulate events.

When asked, Rich, who is in his early 30s, agrees the game is a “cautionary tale” against making too much of your personal data available online.

As a sculpter, Rich produced bronze work for artist Tracey Emin before turning to video games.

He said: “I always wanted to make my own art rather than for other people. Having worked in fine art, you realise that most of the work is bought for private use, and not a lot of people are going to see it. You’re never going to make something that changes the world if it ends up in a warehouse for investment. I did end up working in post-production, and again I was making art for other people. We were the invisible people in the background.”

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Rich has travelled to the Netherlands, San fransisco and Boston to promote Off Grid, and says video games are “definitely” art.

“Museums like the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) now exhibit video games like art. They are buying some of the biggest games, and recognising that like paintings, video games need to be cared for.”

The presentation of women in video games has improved, according to Rich.

“You do still see the over sexualisation of women. We try and be cautious.There is the smart, hacker daughter, and technophobic Dad, rather than a mum who doesn’t understand technology, or the clishe of a teenage boy hacker.”

Semaeopus is named after a fictional ‘evil’ company in a previous game devised by Rich and Pontus.

Off Grid is scheduled for release in early 2019 and will be released on Windows, Mac and Linux then on console.