Game maker cracks combination with tie-in for Bank Job TV show

COMPUTER games were once the domain of geeky teenagers, hidden away in their darkened bedrooms making blue-haired rodents climb ladders or mustachioed plumbers stomp on evil turtles.

Now video games have emerged from the bedroom and taken over the living room as puzzles tied in with television shows become a family affair.

Chunk Games, a Glasgow-based software developer, is the latest company to benefit from the surge in interest in such software and has teamed up with Channel 4 and Big Brother maker Endemol for its latest title.

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The Bank Job – a spin-off series from Davina McCall’s The Million Pound Drop, which airs on Channel 4 – will be launched on 2 January, and Chunk was charged with designing a game to find contestants for the live TV show.

Players can pit their wits against each other on Channel 4’s website and, if they win enough online games, they could qualify for a place on the television contest, to be presented by George Lamb.

Chunk – which has designed games for Minute To Win It and The Krypton Factor, both on ITV – was paired up with Endemol by Channel 4, which is also working with the Scottish company on a project involving supermarket chain Sainsbury’s.

The Bank Job is probably the most addictive game we’ve ever designed,” explained Chunk managing director Donnie Kerrigan.

“Channel 4 was looking for one million games to have been played on the website by the time the show premieres in January – but we passed that target on Thursday, just four nights after it launched.”

Kerrigan founded the company in 2001 with Brian Limond, better known as BBC Scotland comedian Limmy. The pair had worked together at new media agency Black ID. Kerrigan bought out Limond in 2006 when he left to travel and concentrate on his comedy.

By then, their digital agency Chunk Digital, was already carrying out work for clients including lager brands Foster’s and Kronenbourg, but Kerrigan spun out Chunk Games as a separate outfit last year to concentrate on entertainment.

While most of Chunk’s activity comes through contract work – with its other clients including the BBC, Famous Grouse, The Macallan and Toblerone – the company is about to launch its first in-house game in the run-up to Christmas.

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Sticky Sheep will be published by Chillingo, the company behind the popular Angry Birds game.

Kerrigan said the digital work with Channel 4 and Chillingo is helping to fuel his company’s expansion in the real world too.

“Our sales reached about £1 million this year and we’re on course, if we can keep up our growth rate, to hit £2m next year,” he said.

“We’ve got 18 staff at the moment, but it feels like we should be nearer 25 to cope with the work. We hope to reach that number next year but we don’t want to fill the jobs with just ‘average people’, so it’s taking time to find the right staff. We want to grow but we want to maintain the same quality.”

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