Gaming. Whether it’s virtual reality, consoles, PC, board games, card games or the odd round of Twister, the world of gaming is often firmly separated between the physical and digital realms. But Fabulous Beasts is a new hybrid physical-digital strategy game that’s shaking up the games market. It involves two players stacking weird and wonderful physical objects into a tower with digital sensors that can tell which pieces you’re using, creating crazy game scenarios on a connected iPad.

The game has already created a buzz among gamers at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco & British Academy Game Awards, EGX Rezzed, in London – as well as tonnes of great reviews from game bloggers and Twitter.

And seeing as they’re based at one of the South West’s top creative hubs, the Pervasive Media Studio, we were able to catch up with Chris Shaw, the team’s Electronics & Prototyping Engineer, to find out more.

Fabulous features

When chatting to Chris about some of the features of the game, he tells us about how they merged the physical tower building aspects of the game, with digital aspects: “The digital side of the game is played out via a sensor at the base of the tower, which is connected to an iPad. This is where a digital world becomes populated by ‘Fabulous Beasts’ that grow, evolve, cross-breed and interact.”

Naturally, the biggest tower wins, so it’s a bit like Jenga-in-reverse!

Fabulous Beasts Teaser: Get a sneak peak of the game in this video!

However, there is more to the game than just creating the biggest tower. Chris explains: “There is an analogy with the fine balance of natural ecosystems built into all of this and the game ends when the physical tower collapses causing the digital world to collapse in a kind of mass-extinction event.”

Gaming for the future

The creation Fabulous Beasts was made possible by local collaboration project, REACT, and their latest wave of funding for ‘Sandbox’ projects (a secure development process) which also helped to fund a further 5 creative projects in the last year, with the theme of ‘Play’.

“We had instant access to a bunch of smart, critical and fun play-testers for the game as we took it from idea to prototype”


Chris describes how, due to the theme chosen by South West University Collaborators – REACT, everything was aimed at creating products and services for children. This also meant that REACT organised for a group of children to become a part of the design process in whatever way the projects thought best.

Exploring what this meant for the team, Chris explains how it was almost as useful as the funding itself: “We had instant access to a bunch of smart, critical and fun play-testers for the game as we took it from idea to prototype.”

Releasing the beasts

Fabulous Beasts has clearly had a big impact on gamers and the team’s future prospects are bright, with many curious as to when the game will be officially released for purchase.

Even the developers themselves haven’t got bored of the game, despite prototyping and demoing it hundreds of times! Chris says: “I didn’t get tired showcasing it because it was genuinely enjoyable to play and demo.”

Luckily for anyone interested in snapping up their own copy of Fabulous Beasts, that reality doesn’t seem too far off with various plans and ideas in the pipeline, including potential for a Kickstarter style release in the near future.

Creative juices in the South West

Reflecting on the process of creating Fabulous Beasts in the South West, Chris tells us about some of the other exciting projects in development at the Pervasive Media Studio which caught his attention.

“Lots of inspiring people inhabit the Pervasive Media Studio”


“The AlphaSphere musical instrument is an incredibly cool idea that got development funding from a REACT Sandbox back in 2010. I think it’s a very inspiring example of the idea-prototype-product progression that is possible in the South West.”

“Lots of other inspiring people inhabit the Pervasive Media Studio. I’d pick Chloe Meineck and her Music Memory Box, which helps elderly people suffering from dementia, as an example of why doing any of this techie-stuff is worth a great deal. Back in Bath I enjoyed this year’s Illuminate Festival and this whole idea of interactive/playable cities is something that the South West seems to be great at.”

Fabulous Beasts is made by Alex Fleetwood, in collaboration with Dr Elies DeKoninck, George Buckenham, Tim Burrell-Saward, Chris Shaw and Lyall McCarthy.

Thanks to Chris for chatting to us about the game and his experiences. You can follow Fabulous Beasts via their Twitter page at: @FabBeasts.

And talking of impressive startups, if you are one and want to show off your product or put it under the noses of potential investors don’t miss your chance to be part of Venturefest Bristol & Bath on 9 June. But hurry, applications are ending this week!