Paulina Bozek talks about her new social game studio

Start-Up Spotlight: INENSU

Establishing a multimillion dollar PlayStation franchise hasn’t been enough for game director Paulina Bozek.

The BAFTA award-winning director responsible for SingStar is continuing her drive to reach new audiences through games.

She left Atari last spring to found INENSU. This independent London outfit is working on social game projects, involving fashion and music, for the web and mobile platforms.

Bozek tells us where INENSU’s song began.

How did you start your company?
I’ve worked in the games industry for 10 years, first at Ubisoft in Montreal, and then at Sony and Atari in London. My focus has always been on making social games for mainstream audiences and increasingly with an emphasis on online services and community. The recent rise of web/social networks and smartphones as new entertainment platforms has created a landscape that is attractive to starting new companies. Audiences have also totally embraced these new platforms.

So I left a big company and decided to do a start-up because it felt like the right moment to go for it.

I started INENSU around May 2010 and the first step was to build a team. My co-founder Dion Paragas came on board in the fall and we’ve been steadily building a talented small team and are now fully in production with two projects.

How many people work at your company?
There are five of us in the office everyday – three developers, designer and myself. We also work very closely with two contributors who work remotely – our art director Alex Townsend is based in New Zealand now and we also work with a brilliant ideas/design contributor Sami Lill, based in Sweden.

What’s your company culture like?
We are small and focused as an internal team. We like to innovate and be on the cutting edge of new internet technologies, but our philosophy is to develop fast and create widely popular, not niche things. We also have a big appreciation of our target audience and a user-centred design.

We also like to collaborate with various people outside our company. We tend to work in non-traditional game areas such as music and fashion, so often our collaborators come from many different places. We are very open to new ways of working and new links.

Tell us a little-known fact or anecdote about your company.
People often think INENSU is some kind of foreign word. I’ve been asked if it means ‘success’ in Japanese or maybe it’s some kind of martial art. But it stands for International Entertainment Super Company. I picked it up in the paper last year when Simon Cowell was announcing a new partnership with retail mogul Phillip Green and the reporters said it would be like “an International Entertainment Super Company that would rival the likes of Disney.” So we picked that as our name, kind of on a whim. Think big, but don’t take yourself too seriously.

What could you, and/or your team members, not do without on a daily basis?
The obvious things, like internet. Half of us are coffee drinkers and half of us are into Diet Coke, so perhaps caffeine.

Why did you decide to enter the casual gaming market?
The emergence of social networks and smartphones as big mass market entertainment platforms and the fact that everybody plays some kind of game these days, whether that is Words with Friends on your iPhone or a geo-location game in the real world, SingStar at a party or a pet game on Facebook.

What are you working on right now, and what stage is the project at?
We are working on Closet Swap in collaboration with Channel 4. This is a fashion community site and iPhone/Android app for teens. It’s all about championing personal style over disposable high street fashion. It’s very social, community-based with a light game element.

We’re also working on a new music fan platform which will connect fans to music stars in a game environment and is nearly ready for a 1.0 launch.

What are your aspirations for the company?
To launch and grow big, popular new games and interactive entertainment services. To be well known and loved by our audiences.

Who do you admire in the games industry and/or beyond?
I admire companies which have created new categories and individuals who are passionate about making amazing products, like ngmoco, Spotify, Apple and many more.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your company?
We are currently hiring and we’d love to hear from developers (experienced as well as new starters),

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