We talked to the co-founder of Electric Monkeys and got to know a little about the history of this studio, its games and Gravitational, a VR game that hopes to make players aware of the importance of accessibility
Accessibility. One thing we hear a lot about, but see little in practice. Taking into account the mobility needs of people with some type of disability is a necessity for our world, which is increasingly connected virtually, but still separates people by an object as simple as a ladder.
Seriously? Does the bus you take have that access elevator? Do drivers stop for wheelchair users at the point? How many of the places you go to every day (or used to, before this pandemic) have an access ramp next to the stairs? A handrail? Floor markings for the visually impaired? If you answered 'many' then it's great! But believe me, this is not a reality in many places.
Now, do you imagine how difficult these people are to do such simple everyday things? Things that are easy for you, like just picking up a product from the top shelf in the supermarket, can be real challenges for other people. Now, imagine this situation taken to the extreme. Imagine what it would be like if there was a character in a wheelchair in a movie like Alien - The 8th Passenger?
That was born Gravitational. A sci-fi VR game in which you step into the shoes of a wheelchair scientist who needs to solve situations in a weightless complex to survive after everyone has left. If doing things in zero gravity is already complicated for those who have all the movements, imagine for someone who cannot move their legs.
To talk about this game, we spoke with Hugo Daniel Campos, the co-founder of Electric Monkeys, who will talk about the game and the studio. Unity programmer and consultant, Hugo is responsible for the games and applications development team focused on the area of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. And I also want to leave a special thanks to Camila Ferrari, from Electric Monkeys, who answered our emails!
Meet Hugo Campos, responsible for the game Gravitational
Married Games: Hello, I would like to start by thanking you for agreeing to speak with Married Games. Can you talk a little about Electric Monkeys and a little about the projects you have already carried out?
Hugo Campos: Hello Paulo, how are you? My name is Hugo Campos and I’m a co-founder of the game studio Electric Monkeys. I am very grateful for the opportunity to expose our work on your portal.
Our studio was born out of an old passion that I have for games, along with the need to transform our company Studica Solution into a game developer. From this dream came Electric Monkeys, a company focused on game development.
Through an announcement from Ancine, we got the opportunity to develop our first game: Gravity Heroes, a frantic 2D platform shooter with pixel-art visuals that is already available on all platforms and will be exposed in the Panorama Brasil show festival.
With Gravity Heroes we gained notoriety in the segment and won the Best Brazilian Game award at BGS 2018. Parallel to that, we also developed mobile games and developed the development of Gravitational, a VR game that will also be available to the public at Big Festival 2021.
MG: What about your game at BIG, Gravitational? What can you count on without giving too much spoiler to what we will see in it?
HC: In the game, the player will control Sebastian, a leading wheelchair scientist in research and development at GravCorp, the company responsible for gravitational control technology. Everything seems to be going well, until an accident in the reactor will cause Sebastian to have to shut it down. However, the lack of accessibility of the floors is the biggest obstacle on your journey and the player will have to build paths using futuristic technologies to reach these places.
A game about accessibility
MG: A game with a protagonist in a wheelchair facing challenges due to the lack of accessibility of the places. This is a huge problem in the real world. Do you hope to be able to draw attention to that with Gravitational?
HC: Yea! We hope that people can have different eyes when entering a store, walking in a park, taking a bus and other day-to-day tasks. We know that the experience of a VR game is not enough to understand this, only those who need a wheelchair know the difficulties, but we hope that with this, people will make the world more inclusive.
MG: And qwhat are his influences or was he born out of a desire to play a game like this and you didn't find any out there?
HC: The idea came up in 2013, when VR technologies started to emerge. At the time, they didn't have a lot of games, and I wanted to create an experience completely different from the known games. The initial concept was to give the player the sensation of floating in a weightless environment, holding wherever he could to move.
The player would be seated at all times, using the controls to hold objects in the game. To achieve maximum immersion in the game it made a lot more sense to create a character in a wheelchair. The game had a lot of potential, but opportunities to develop it just came up now.
MG: Among all the platforms for which the game will be released, which was the most difficult to do and why? What were the difficulties you had in the development? Did the pandemic really get in the way?
HC: The development of Gravitational itself has been a challenge for all of us, as it is our first VR game. So everything is new and different. But we have a very committed and collaborative team that deliver the best for the game.
The pandemic got in the way a little bit at the beginning because of the migration to the home office, but after we got the hang of it, I can say that our team is much more in touch than before.
MG: Do you think that the VR gaming market is a good place to invest, given mainly the price of components like VR Glasses? Or is there a good audience loyal to this technology?
HC: We know that due to the price, VR growth is slow compared to other technologies, there is still a barrier for the technology to reach its peak and reach all players, but I am optimistic and even the pessimistic projections show that VR is an ascending technology. I hope that in the future everyone can have a Virtual Reality device at home.
From Pixel to Virtual Reality
MG: From a game in pixel art for a 3D VR it’s a very bold leap. Why did you decide to make changes? And after him, the company's plans is to continue in 3D games?
HC: It's a funny story, because our first idea was Gravitational. At the time, we participated in an announcement from Spcine, which unfortunately we did not pass. While we were still participating in this announcement, we decided to enter Ludum Dare, an online Game Jam.
Our goal was to explore our possibilities of mechanics with gravity, but our 3D modeler was unable to attend, so we made a 2D version of the game. This 2D version was so successful that it ended up being contemplated in an upcoming announcement (by Ancine). And in the end this idea that was derived ended up being developed first.
We at Electric Monkeys are very eclectic, and we don't just stick to 2D or 3D games. If the idea is good, we’ll go after it. What I can say is that our next project is definitely 3D.
MG: What was the focus of Studica Solution before becoming a development studio?
HC: The Studica group is an official Unity reseller in Brazil, and also works in partnership with them to carry out courses, certifications and other services, in addition to working with other solutions and software in the information technology market. My history with Studica started with game development classes, as a result many companies started asking for consultancy and also development work not only for games but also for other applications.
As we are passionate about games we decided to open a branch of this group for games, hence the Electric Monkeys, which is 100% focused on own games. But Studica Solution offers services to third party companies.
MG: Gravity Heroes came with the help of this public notice Ancine, which is something very interesting, but what about Gravitational? Did you also get these support notices? Is it currently easier or more complicated to get this kind of support for the games industry?
HC: Yes, Gravitational got support from the PROAC 2019 notice which opened the door for the development of the project. I believe in these support programs, and I see that it will help a lot in the development of the games industry. I cannot say whether it is easier or more difficult, since many of these notices depend on government actions, but I can say that they are great for the industry, and I am in favor of these investments.
MG: So, was being nominated to perform at BIG rewarded all this effort? How did it feel to know that you will have this chance to perform for everyone at an event like this?
HC: It is a great honor to participate in the BIG Festival 2021, and even more as finalists in two categories (Best XR / VR Game and Big Diversity). The indication is very valuable! The effort is worth it at times like this and at times when players feel fulfilled.
Gravitational is a very important game for the studio. In many ways it has opened our eyes to social issues that we did not know, has generated empathy and put us (and the players) in the “place of the other”, in addition to transforming development into a valuable experience that we want to pass on to you. We hope you enjoy!
MG: And finally, do you want to send a message to the people at Married Games?
HC: I would like to send a big hug to the people of Married Games and the readers, everyone is invited to test our game and send suggestions or criticisms. I also thank the team for giving us this space to introduce us and for believing in our project!
Electric Monkeys at the BIG Festival
In addition to Gravitational, you can get to know the work of Electric Monkeys on its social networks and on Youtube.
In addition to them, you will get to know other incredible indie games at Brazil Indie Games, the BIG Festival 2021So, don't forget to keep an eye on the BIG Festival, it takes place between the 3rd and the 9th of May and will be all broadcast online. The complete program of the event will be released soon. For more information about Brazil Indie Games, access the official websitel. Make a note in your calendar so you don't forget to check out Hugo and Gravitational during conferences that will take place online all day.
Did you like Gravitational? What did you think of the theme of the game? Contact us in the comments and read more about the BIG Festival at Our site.