A Prague gamemakers take on gamification and the family business


Seattle has made it. Making it isn’t about checking up on rankings--the lists in magazines from Forbes to Kiplinger’s citing Seattle as a tech center, a startup hub, an educated city with a decent employment rate, top town for dogs, dating, data and so forth…Making it is receiving a press release from Prague announcing that Seattle is the setting for a new video game featuring helicopters.

Independent Czech developers Bohemia Interactive launched their new game, Take On Helicopters, on Friday. The game sends players on flight-based missions ranging from the roof of the Columbia Tower to the Puget Sound. The missions help a fictional aviation company gain new contracts and defeat competitors as it fights for survival.

Here’s how Bohemia Interactive got it right: The plot of the game revolves around succession strategy for Larkin Aviation, left suddenly without a leader as its founder passes. Harry Larkin’s legacy is a business built over a lifetime, and now it is up to his two sons to carry the company into an uncertain future.

Succession is a topic near and dear to this magazine. At the annual Family Business Awards on November 3, René Ancinas discussed his path to the CEO position of Port Blakely Companies, recognized at the 2010 awards ceremony for its succession planning. Conversation at the awards concerned how to adapt gracefully, and how family businesses have survived the recession thus far by sticking faithfully to their values and evolving intelligently. To see a video game based on family business and set in Seattle is particularly compelling yet unsurprising, given the strength of family business in the region.

Take On Helicopters is relevant not only because of its plot but because of its context: Considering its location, Lead Environment Designer Miroslav Horváth describes “great chemistry between Seattle and our game.” This chemistry can be found in the more than 150 gaming companies in the Seattle area, and the breakthroughs in gamification led by Sound-area developers.

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