The Story of Bear from FETCH (A Petfinder win!)

Posted by Chris Campbell on August 16, 2013 in Big Fish Studios -- Share:

FETCH is an interactive game for the iPhone and iPad that has been called, “The official game of dog lovers everywhere.” That review alone was worth the twelve months we spent making it. That’s not just because our team loves dogs, but also because now we were the semi-official representative for all dog lovers in the medium of interactive entertainment. That’s high praise indeed. Without giving away too much, the story of FETCH is about a little boy named Milo and his best friend, a dog named Bear. When Bear is stolen after relieving himself on the wrong fire hydrant one night, Milo embarks on an epic journey to save him and figure out who’s responsible for taking his best friend.

You’ll probably not be surprised to learn that I also happen to have a dog named Bear that bears a striking resemblance to the digital Bear from the world of Fetch. Bear’s tale is special, but I imagine it’s similar in some way to the thousands of other lucky dogs that find their forever homes because of the service Petfinder provides. Since I can only tell you one story though, I’ll start at the beginning of Bear’s journey.

Bear’s Journey

Bear’s story begins in Yakima, Washington. He was found late on Christmas Eve 2007 inside of a fence trying to befriend a horse. Once found, he was taken inside someone’s home, where he was then dried off and given a treat. While he was eating the treat, he looked up at the camera. His picture was taken and posted to Petfinder.com.

Approximately 150 miles away in Seattle that night, my wife Joni and I were trying to make it through our first holiday without our two 12 year old dogs – Salvador and Izzy, that we lost in the fall of 2007. As all pet-parents know, the silence of losing a family member with four legs (or three) is deafening. Losing two within three months of each other is…well, I have no words for what that feels like.

After some considerable healing, we decided we needed the love and energy a dog brought into our lives and began scouring Petfinder.com to find our next furry child.. Soon thereafter my wife came across a picture of a cute little gray dog eating a treat and looking up at the camera. He looked like just the sort of dog that would try to befriend anything – even a horse. We piled in the car, drove to Yakima, fell in love and came back with Bear and his sister Callie. I can assure you they’ve both been spoiled rotten ever since.

Bear’s Game

Fast-forward several years to early 2012 and you’ll find Brian Thompson (FETCH’s art director and co-designer) and I discussing what kind of story we wanted to tell in our next game. Our team is VERY passionate about telling stories in our games so we decided to tell a story about a boy and his dog. That relationship is universally understood – and because we’re dog people (Brian grew up in San Diego with two best friends of his own – Scruffy and CJ), the subject matter was something we could easily speak to.

The awesome ‘Fetch’ team spent the next 12 months creating a game that we hoped would speak to the special relationship between people and their dogs, featuring my best friend Bear. Something I looked forward to every day was watching as the digital version of Bear came to life, and seeing the world of FETCH being built around him. Milo journeys through a city, a pirate infested park, volcanic oceans and even interactive museums to save his (my) best friend Bear. I can’t tell you much more about the story without spoiling certain parts. So I’ll just say that if you love dogs, you’ll love the game because it was made for you.

We released FETCH in March of 2013 to tremendous reviews. A local museum in Seattle named MOHAI opened an exhibit about the making of FETCH, and Bear made his television debut on a Seattle news show called Evening Magazine! Not too bad for a dog found on Christmas Eve in 2007 while trying to make friends with a horse.

A Personal Thanks to Saving Grace Rescue and Petfinder.com

The wonderful thing about Petfinder is that it’s powered by compassion. Behind each one of those adorable pictures is an incredible person that made a decision to help an animal in need rather than ‘shoo’ them away, or leave them for someone else to deal with.

Joni and I owe a debt of gratitude to Saving Grace Rescue in Yakima, Washington. Instead of throwing something at a stray or just ignoring the little gray dog in the rain, he was taken in and given a chance at finding his forever home. Jenae is truly an angel that walks among us, and as a result I have a best friend that makes my life exponentially more rewarding than it would have been without him.

We owe a debt of gratitude to Petfinder for allowing large and small shelters the ability to reach many thousands of people that could help save an animal, and elevating the pet to a family member. I know that there are thousands of pet-parents that feel the exact same way I do. That’s why at the end of FETCH you’ll see the Petfinder logo. We want to do whatever we can to help drive awareness that there are thousands of deserving pets in desperate need of a home.

And finally it’s important to mention that while Bear might be the lucky dog recreated digitally and featured in FETCH, the inspiration for the game comes from more than just Bear. FETCH is a love letter to ALL of our furry friends and the love and happiness that they’ve brought to all of us.

So on behalf of Team Fetch we’d also like to send our love to many present (and past) furry children as well. Thanks to Callie, Salvador, Izzy, CJ, Scruffy, Cora, Milo, Marv, Nicholas, Frosty, Jake, CoCo, Willy, Cyann, Rambo, Homer, Marley, Kisha, Kumu, Moke, Riley, Sockie, Kuru, Ceba, Zack, Guinness, Belle, Rudy and the hundreds and hundreds of other wonderful dogs that I didn’t list or we didn’t have the time to model in 3D.

Each and every one of your smiling, panting, slobbering, loving, licking and full-of-unconditional-love faces truly make the world a better place.

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Chris Campbell thinks anything to do with games is fun, so he's done it all, performing numerous roles throughout his 16-year games career from marketing to PR and production to design. In addition to Fetch, he was the Producer for Big Fish Studios’ Drawn game series. He was also involved in various capacities with the development of a many of Nintendo’s most popular games, including Donkey Kong 64, Perfect Dark, F-Zero GX, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime 2.

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