Weird science
Edge|Christmas 2020
Meet Playables, the production company quietly behind the coolest interactive experiments going

The first time we come across Atsushi Wada’s sit-up simulator My Exercise is in a video of a GDC gathering. In it, Hidden Folks creator Adriaan de Jongh grips a tablet, pressing the screen to make the cartoon protagonist haul his torso up and plant his face into the side of a dog. When he draws his finger away from the screen, the boy returns to the floor. Peering over de Jongh are any number of indie scene luminaries, all of whom are hooting uproariously. It’s an image that has stuck in our minds for years. We were delighted, then, to see My Exercise finally release this summer – but what really caught our eye was its publisher. Playables, co-founded by Michael Frei and Mario von Rickenbach, has been on our radar for a little while: whenever we trip over unusual, and hilarious, games, we find it at the other end of the wire.

Their involvement with My Exercise was, Frei tells us, “kind of a funny coincidence”. The only DVD he’d ever bought of another animator’s work was Wada’s. “So I was a fan of his work, and then I happened to meet him for the first time in 2014 while doing a residency in Tokyo. That was when I started to become interested in interactive stuff.”

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