Rebooting retro

Regina Speer uses her skills and vision to make a classic game accessible for a whole new generation.

Regina Speer


Learning how to think critically was one of the most important aspects of the programme. It’s necessary for heading into any sort of start-up business.

An Otago Polytechnic Design Communication graduate is going ‘old skool’ with new technology.

Regina Speer has developed a clever option for a smart phone cover that looks like a Nintendo Gameboy of the 1980s. Turn the cover around and it transforms the touch screen to emulate an old fashioned Gameboy device – playing games like Zelda, Pokémon and Super Mario Land.

Regina pitched the idea at a Startup Weekend in Christchurch. That involved talking to people on the street to validate the concept.

“Everyone really like the idea, so we coded an app quickly and by the end of the weekend, we had a working prototype and a product called ‘Swoppy’” she says.

Originally, Regina thought it was just a bit of fun, but it soon became apparent how much people liked it.

“My then business partner, Aydin Arik and I decided to pursue it further. We looked into the legalities and trademarks with Nintendo Gameboys and we 3D printed a prototype. We then employed a prototyping company in Auckland who made us some moulds so we could create several cases.”

The pair have received a ‘Getting Started’ grant from Callaghan Innovation that will help with R&D to take their product to market.

The New Zealand Game Developer Association (NZGDA) recently awarded Regina a scholarship to take Swoppy to the International Game Developer Conference in San Francisco. With 30,000 attendees, there was wall-to-wall access to the latest and greatest in gaming. Armed with her ‘Swoppy dress’ (Regina’s friend, Lilly Mulholland, whipped that up) and Whitakers chocolate bars, Regina showed her concept to as many as she could.

They were all really keen. I think there’s a real nostalgia around old-school gaming. The simplicity of the games takes people back to their childhood.

Regina says her study at Otago Polytechnic has set her up for innovation.

“Learning how to think critically was one of the most important aspects of the programme,” she says. “It’s necessary for heading into any sort of start-up business”.

Regina’s working on another app that she started when she was at Otago Polytechnic. ‘MOOJ’ is a music app that will one day play the right music for every moment of your life.

“It uses artificial intelligence … it’s kind of like a soundtrack for your life”.


Regina Speer