Cambridge Invents ... Jagex's RuneScape
Collusion's interview with Mark Oligvie, Design Director for RuneScape at Jagex
Do you know that Cambridge is home to massive multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) RuneScape, which, with over 200 millions registered users, holds the Guinness World Record for the most online players?
RuneScape is an online fantasy game set in the fictional medieval world of Gielinor, where users play as customisable avatars, setting their own goals and objectives and interacting collaboratively or competitively. The medium sized town of Lumbridge, originally the place where new players first entered the game, is based on Cambridge.
The game was originally developed by Andrew and Paul Gower who wanted to create a game that they could play on any computer whilst they were at University in Cambridge. RuneScape was launched in 2001 as a free to play game, with revenue coming from adverts and the company, Jagex, was set up to develop it. As the success of the game become apparent, they took on more staff and Design Director Mark Oligvie joined as employee #14. One year after it’s release they had one million accounts registered. After the dotcom crash a pay to play version was introduced in 2002 alongside the free version, with both options popular and operating side by side.
Following the success of RuneScape, Jagex now employs more than 500 people including artists, designers, programmers, translators, and sound technicians, all based at their headquarters in Cambridge. There are players in more than 150 countries and the game is translated into several languages including French, German, Brazillian, Portuguese and Latin American Spanish. In 2012 it was estimated that the 200 million + players had invested more than 443 billion minutes of gameplay to date. Long before social media dominated our lives, RuneScape players would be able to chat and hang out with each other online and it was cloud based long before that term was popularised.
Jagex now turns over more than £50 million per annum and has received numerous awards including, in 2011, the Queen's Award for Enterprise in the Innovation category. The Guinness World Records also recognise RuneScape as the most updated game. RuneScape truly is a phenomenal Cambridge success story.
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