Artificial Mind and Movement rebrands; (re)introducing Behaviour Interactive

You may not know the name "Artificial Mind and Movement" but its one of the oldest and largest independent game developers working today and also the oldest operating developer in gaming superhub Montreal. A2M, as it's been called, began work on original IP, creating Jersey Devil for the PlayStation in 1998. But back then it was known as Behaviour Interactive and, beginning today, it will be Behaviour Interactive once again. We spoke with CEO and founder Rémi Racine about the name change, what it means for his studio and its goal of becoming a consumer-facing developer instead of a business-facing work-for-hire studio.

"We're trying to do more and more of our own IP," Racine told Joystiq. "Our name becomes more and more present to the game community when you do your own stuff, so that triggered the change" to Behaviour Interactive. "Because of Wet and Naughty Bear and the Wanako brand and Assault Heroes, we're moving more and more into our own IP."

"The company is the founder of the Montreal community. We're the oldest and were here before Ubisoft."- Rémi Racine

This focus on original IP is somewhat new for a studio mostly known for its licensed games and its portable and/or last-gen ports. "We were formed on an original IP called Jersey Devil," Racine explained. "When you think about our roots, our first game on the console was an original IP and prior to that we were an original IP shop doing Wallaby Jack on PC but then we moved on to become a work-for-hire on licensed stuff. At the end of 2005 we felt like we had to go back to doing original IP with the appearance of the PS3 and Xbox 360 on the market." Their focus: the T[een] to M[ature] market.

But it's not all about retail games like the in-development Wet 2 and Naughty Bear 2; Behaviour is also active in the PSN and XBLA space with its Chilean developer Wanako Games, creators of Assault Heroes. "We have some PSN and XBLA originals and we'll create more small titles," Racine said, adding, "We're going to come out with smaller iPhone applications and iPad games" as well.

So a drive to rebrand itself as a consumer-facing creator of original IP is the message Behaviour wants to deliver; however, there's another ribald reason for the name change. The studio's "A2M" nickname is also shared with a particularly obscene pornographic custom; Google searches for the company (and especially Google Image searches for its logo) would routinely return indecorous results. When asked if that was an impetus for the name change Racine simply, and tersely, replied, "Yes."

Of course, he added that it was only "part of the decision." The availability of the studio's original name, Behaviour Interactive, was also a motivating factor. "Internally there was a lot of enthusiasm for going back to that name," Racine said, adding that they started that process a year ago. Racine sold his studio to Behaviour Communications, a large multimedia entertainment company, in 1996. In 1999, with the help of some investors, he bought the developer back but had to change the name and thus, Artificial Mind and Movement was born.

And after 18 years in the Montreal game development business, Racine is eager for Behaviour to take its place among the high-profile studios that have set up shop there. "The company is the founder of the Montreal community. We're the oldest and were here before Ubisoft," Racine said. "I've been in the business for 18 years. Ubisoft has been here 12 years, 13 years maybe? They've grown very large and it's created the momentum. There's a lot of great talent in Montreal and great games developed in Montreal and that's what attracts the THQs of the world," Racine said, referring to the US publisher's new Montreal-based studio.

Most of all, Racine wants us to know that this name change is just another part of his studio's transition. "We started three or four years ago and we're going to continue," he said. "Changing the name is just part of that shift." With Wet 2 and Naughty Bear 2 in development at the newly rebranded Behaviour Interactive, it shouldn't be long before you see that new logo staring back at you from a store shelf.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.