All Play, No Work | An Interview with Co-Founders Paul Pattison & Sacha Raposo

By Christine Liebig ● October 13, 2015 13:25

Congratulations to All Play, No Work on their 2016 Kidscreen Award for Best Game App - Tablet for their interactive book series, Weirdwood Manor. 

The Best Idea Definitely Wins!

For those of you with children (or those of you who may just be kids at heart), the recently launched Weirdwood Manor transmedia storybook app is sure to pique your interest. Part game, part book, part animated film, the Weirdwood Manor app takes children, aged 8-12, on a multi-path adventure through the world of Arthur Weirdwood a renowned yet eccentric storyteller, toy-maker and inventor.

Weirdwood Manor began as the passionate side-project of Relish Interactive that grew incredible legs and ultimately required a company of its own. The following is CFC Media Lab’s interview with All Play, No Work co-founders Paul Pattison and Sacha Raposo after the smash success of their recent launch of this truly unique and visually stunning transmedia storybook app. 

Q.  What motivated you to become an entrepreneur?

PP| I suppose it came naturally. I’ve always been good with people, a free spirit and ambitious, but not in a monetary, success-type of way. And I’ve always loved making stuff - for the sheer joy of it, that’s what motivates me. When I was 7 our family got a Commodore 64, and that's when I first learned to program and started making games. I also created a (print) comic book and sold it door to door. By age 8, I had a paper route that I carried through high school. And as a teen I was active in sports, because I loved being part of a team and working towards achieving something together.

SR| I don't think I ever considered myself an entrepreneur. Like Paul, I enjoy making fun, interesting stuff, but I didn’t seek to do something bigger. Paul and I shared the same frustrations freelancing and working for agencies and companies of various sizes. Since we had complementary skills we thought why not combine them and go after bigger projects that we can actually affect rather than be a small cog in a larger wheel. So we started Relish Interactive - a digital service agency, then All Play, No Work for our personal passion projects.

Q.  What prompted you to apply to CFC Media Lab’s IDEABOOST accelerator program?

PP| We had received some experimental content funding from CMF, who also gave us information regarding a list of accelerators they supported. IDEABOOST was on their list. I thought it was a perfect fit for us, as it focused more on content than tech or gaming – which it was.

Q.  What was your “aha” moment? Was there a pivotal moment when you knew your idea was going to work/be worth pursuing?

PP| Previous to our participation in the IDEABOOST accelerator program, we had only shown Weirdwood Manor to our family and friends. Program mentor Suzanne Stein facilitated a user-testing session for us with kids we didn’t know. After 2.5 years of development work, it was definitely a scary moment to put our project in front of strangers. Would they like it? Would they hate it? Lucky for us, they loved it! In fact we had to take it away from them at the end of the session because they were so thoroughly engaged.

4. What is Weirdwood's strategic advantage?

SR| Our strategic advantage is in the quality of the graphics and the 3D animation. Audiences expect this level on TV, but not on the iPad. Weirdwood is also truly a transmedia product that offers multiple channels of exploration and purposeful interaction between users and content that progressively moves the story forward. It looks like a video and feels like a game, but essentially it’s all about reading.

PP| Exactly. Weirdwood is about rediscovering the joy of reading. Our goal is to inspire kids (of all ages) to explore their creativity and flex their imagination in new ways. We want to bring ‘play’ to storytelling.

Q.  What do you want audiences to know about your app?

SR| Well. There are few things audiences should know. First, Weirdwood Manor was intended for ages, 8-12, but we’ve come to learn that it appeals to children across a variety of age groups, including younger children and adults. We even received comments from someone who said they were 60 and loved it!

Second, our goal is for audiences to rediscover reading and the power of their imagination. At All Play, No Work, we believe that creativity and imagination play an integral part in the development of problem solving skills – something that everyone needs no matter what your background or strengths.

Third, content of this quality usually comes from animation studios that employ 300 people or more. All Play, No Work is a small team of 6 people, who have contributed an incredible amount of personal time, passion and money to this project. We are the true definition of indie. And we’re really proud of everyone on our team for creating such a high quality production.

Q. What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve faced in terms of development?

PP| I would have to say funding. Though we did receive CMF support, we invested heavily in ourselves because we believed in the project and in each other. Limiting our scope was another challenge. Transmedia storytelling offers limitless potential, so curbing those possibilities while still ensuring the quality and unique nature of the app was definitely a challenge.

Q. What gets you excited about the future?

PP| Weirdwood Manor, at its core, is not digitally dependent. I’m excited to tell other parts of the story in other ways using different channels and different mediums, and eventually moving to TV.

Q. What's the most important thing you've learned since starting your project?

PP| We’re partners and best friends. It’s invaluable to have talented people working with you who believe in what you’re doing as much as you do and trusting those people implicitly, even if they’re working remotely. At a more tactical level, it’s also invaluable to have your developer team observe and learn from your audience as they interact with your product.

SR| I’ve come to realize that passion projects are the hardest. I mean where and how do you draw the line? It’s not ever going to be perfect. I suppose we should have recognized earlier on how emotionally invested we were from the start. And Paul’s right, it’s invaluable to work with people who are equally invested and passionate. Working with non-stakeholders is scary. If the project tanks, they can walk away unscathed, but you can’t.

Q. If you weren't the co-founders of All Play, No Work, what would you be doing?

SR| Our service company Relish Interactive allows us to continue to push forward. And I’m sure I’d still be trying to scratch the itch to create something in which I’m 100% invested and that is a little more within my control.

PP| That. Or I’d probably be doing the same thing for someone else for a regular pay check and a little less stress.

Official LAUNCH @ Word on the Street | Toronto Harbourfront | 27 September 2015 

Impressive Launch Stats:

Editor’s Choice | Apple App Store | 1 October 2015 (featured for 1 week)

Ranked 4th overall in the Canadian App Store

Only book on the list (Canada + US)

#1 in Books category

#1 in Kids category overall

#1 in Kids aged 9-11

eclipsed 5,000 downloads