How one startup is re-imagining mobile gameplay as a healing activity – Meczyki.Net

Mobile wellbeing app topped 1.2 billion downloads last year, while leading meditation app Calm alone raked in $118.2 million, data from Sensor Tower indicated. This may leave some to believe that the digital wellness market is essentially solved, but a new startup, Lumi Interactive, believes the opposite is true. The Melbourne-based, women-led company has identified a lesser-explored niche in the mobile market that involves translating offline, self-care activities into sports as a means of reducing our collective stress and anxiety.

While most mobile games focus on letting users compete against each other or achieve some sort of goal, the startup’s upcoming title, kinder world The main purpose is to help users to relax. It accomplishes this through short, snack-sized sessions where it asks players to take care of virtual houseplants by taking care of themselves in the real world.

In the game, players are encouraged to do simple acts of kindness – such as practicing daily gratitude, for example – to improve their own well-being and that of the sport’s wider community. The game features a variety of non-stressful activities – such as watering house plants, interacting with animal neighbors, and decorating a cozy room with plants, among other things.

image credit: Lumi Interactive

In some ways, it’s a reminder of how many of us spent months in creative play during the peak of the pandemic. Games like Animal Crossing, The popular Nintendo game whose stress-free environment has helped many people relax and pass the time under the COVID-19 lockdown. In Animal Crossing, players design indoor and outdoor venues, shop for outfits and household items, plant flowers, and chit-chat with animal friends.

As it turns out, the pandemic played a big part in the founding of Lumi Interactive, the company also told Meczyki.Net.

“At the end of 2020, we were a small team of three, exhausted by the pandemic and a difficult year for business,” explains Lumi Interactive’s co-founder and CEO. Lauren Clinic. ,We decided to take two weeks to refresh ourselves with Game Jam to create something completely new, and mental wellness was very much on our mind. We had all grown closer to nature on the harsh Melbourne lockdown, and wanted to investigate why houseplants had become part of a self-care routine for so many people,” she says.

This led to a question as to whether houseplant care could be brought into the digital world, and resulted in the team building a prototype of Kinder World.

“It had the spark of something special after only two weeks, and the concept tested very strongly with our target audience,” says Clinique.

Clinique and Lumi Interactive co-founder Christina Chen both had backgrounds in gaming before founding their new company, and had known each other for nearly a decade. Clinique first entered the games industry as a marketing consultant for games like Crossy Road, co-founded a boutique game marketing agency, then went directly into game development. Meanwhile, Chen had a technical background that saw him work on payments at Xbox Live and later as a senior producer at PopCap in Shanghai, co-founding game publisher Surprise Attack (now known as Fellow Traveller). seen before).

Clinique says the two believed in their mutual love for data, underserved player communities, and new opportunities that were still on the horizon for mobile gaming.


image credit: Lumi Interactive

As the team examined the idea for a more collaborative, self-care-focused title, they found that many of today’s consumers were not finding satisfaction with mainstream wellness apps.

“When we actually interviewed users – specifically Gen Z and millennial women and non-binary people – we found that 97% had opted out of apps like Headspace and Calm because they ‘feeled like work. ’ Or had become one more thing for them to fail,” Clinique says. “Instead they often have fragmented relaxation hobbies such as gaming, houseplants, squishmallow collecting, crafting, and ASMR. These are mostly distraction activities that helped their short-term anxiety but did not help them build important resilience skills in the long-term, She says.

Lumi Interactive responded to this response by making sure their game was designed in a way where you can’t fail, no matter how you play. For example, all activities in the game are optional and virtual houseplants will never die.

,We deliberately made these choices to prevent a feeling of burden for the players,” says the clinic.

Keeping in mind the strategy of co-developing the game with its community, the startup turned to tiktok To test different elements, such as game design, art style, and more to find out what interests their users.

Now a full-time team of 12 and growing, Lumi Interactive closed in March on $6.75 million in seed funding in a round led by a16z — which is officially being announced this week. Other investors include 1Up Ventures, Galileo Ventures, Eric Seifert’s Heracles Capital and Double Loop Games co-founder and CEO Emily Greer.

startup using money team to develop It could therefore further develop into a larger concept called “crowd healing” as reported by Lumi Interactive’s full-time wellness researcher, Dr. Hannah Gunderman, Ph.D., The company believes the idea – which refers to sharing kindness with others through self-care style gameplay – could become a new gaming category.

Lumi Interactive, of course, isn’t the first to envision games that aren’t goal-oriented. There are games that are interactive stories or graphic novels or other indie projects, but they still have the gamer coming to a conclusion through the experience of playing them. Kinder World, meanwhile, will have some players whenever they need to rest, which is why the company is considering offering subscriptions, in addition to standard in-app purchases. also looking for Online-offline experiences with physical items that can unlock certain game benefits or activities.

Kinder World is currently in alpha testing on iOS and Android and is targeting a full release later in 2022.