Nfld. & Labrador

Virtual reality game nets real-life Emmy nod for Newfoundland-based company

Other Ocean Interactive nominated in same category as HBO's Silicon Valley and Westworld along with other popular shows.

Other Ocean is one of several sharing the nomination in interactive media category

Deirdre Ayre, Other Ocean Interactive's studio head, says the Emmy nomination is 'particularly sweet.' (Sarah Smellie/CBC)

The studio head of Other Ocean Interactive thought she got a congratulatory email for an Emmy nomination by mistake.

"Then I was sent a copy of the the press release," said Deidre Arye, who is head of operations for the company. 

"It was very exciting to be hired for the project initially ... and this, of course, makes it particularly sweet."

The project involved developing a virtual reality game — Virtual Rick-ality — based on the cult-favourite TV animated series Rick and Morty on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. The game was included as part of an episode of the series. 

Other Ocean Interactive was nominated in the category of Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media Within a Scripted Program.

A shared nomination

Three other companies share the nomination for their work on Rick and Morty: Owlchemy Labs, Adult Swim Games and the Rick and Morty creative team. 

Ayre said it was definitely a team effort.

"It was a collaborative project that Other Ocean was hired to be a part of, given our virtual reality development experience and strong technical team," she told CBC's Fred Hutton via email. 

The Other Ocean Interactive office in St. John's is downtown on Water Street. (Sarah Smellie/CBC)

"We weren't involved in the content but the technical aspects which, like special effects, is an art form unto itself."

The group faces some stiff competition, with teams from the Netflix hit 13 Reasons Why, USA Network's Mr. Robot and HBO's Silicon Valley and Westworld also nominated in the same category.

From California to Atlantic Canada

Ayre's brother, a fellow Newfoundlander, started Other Ocean Interactive in Silicon Valley while wanting to bring the business back home. 

Andrew hired his sister to make that happen, and she set up an office in Charlottetown, P.E.I. in 2006. 

Ayre moved home to Newfoundland in 2008 and she opened another office in St. John's. 

The animated series Rick and Morty is about a mad scientist and his grandson, and is loosely inspired by Back to the Future. (Adult Swim)

When Ayre found out Other Ocean Interactive would get the chance to work on the Rick and Morty game, it was already considered an achievement — even before the Emmy nomination.

"We all thought that was pretty frigging cool, there's no question about that," Ayre told CBC at the time. 

Read more articles by CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

Wtih files from Fred Hutton and Sarah Smellie