The developer and programmer Bree Code worked at the peak of the video game industry – she was responsible for many AI systems that support the behavior of non-player characters (NPCs) in the extremely popular Assassin’s Creed series created by Ubisoft. Obviously, games are not for everyone, but Code was more and more interested in why this maxim seemed to play in accordance with predictable gender lines, which ultimately led to its development and launch. # Self-treatment through our own independent development studio TRU LUV.
#SelfCare continued to win honors, including on the Apple App Store Best of 2018, and Code and TRU LUV also became the first Canadian startup to visit Apple’s Entrepreneur Camp program. Now, after more than 2 million downloads of #SelfCare (without any ads), Code and TRU LUV have attracted a number of investors for their first external financing, including Real Ventures, Evolve Ventures, Bridge Builders Collaborative and Artesian Venture Partners.
I talked with the Code about how she came up with and created #SelfCare, what will happen next with TRU LUV, and how the current COVID-19 crisis actually emphasizes the need for an alternative to games that performs many similar functions, but for previously underserved groups of people for which the challenges and reward structures of traditional games are simply not satisfying.
“I was very, very interested why about half of people are not interested in video games, including all my friends,” Code told me. “And at that moment, tablets were becoming popular, and everyone had a phone. So if there was something universal in this tool, then it should have been more widely distributed, but I saw really clear patterns that were not there. “The last time I checked this, maybe a couple of years ago, there were 5 billion mobile users and about 2.2 billion mobile players.”
Her curiosity caused by the mismatch, especially because she was an industry insider, Code began to conduct her own research to find out the potential reasons for the gap – the reason why games seemed to constantly attract about half of the total number of computer users to the Best.
“I started doing a lot of focus groups and research, and I saw really clear patterns, and I knew that if there is a clear pattern, there should be an explanation,” said Code. “What I discovered after reading a book by Sheri Greiner Ray Game gender designAs she wrote in 2004, the chapter on stimulation said it was admittedly a crude generalization, but men are usually stimulated by a sense of danger and things that flash on the screen. And women, in her study, tended to be stimulated by something mentioned, called a mutually beneficial result in a socially significant situation. That’s when you help NPCs, and they help you, for example. In a sense, in the rules of the world, this is more important than just raising the mark. ”
The code then went deeper, using consumer research and further research, and found a potential reason for this gap, which then provided a way to develop a new alternative to the traditional gaming paradigm, which could be more attractive to a large group of people who were not served by what was traditionally produced in branch.
“I started reading about the psychology of stimulation, and from there I read about the psychology of defense, and I found a very simple and clear explanation for this difference, which is that there are two human responses to stress,” she said. “One of them, which is much more famous, is called the“ fight or run ”reaction. When we experience the “fight or run” reaction in the face of challenge, pressure or danger, adrenaline is released in your body, and this makes you instinctively want to win. So the game developer creates such difficult situations, and then gives you the opportunity to win, and this enhances the “hit or run” reaction to stress: this is a gamification curve. But in 2000, another human reaction to stress, Dr. Shelley Taylor and her colleagues, was discovered in the laboratory of social cognitive neurology at the University of California, Los Angeles. It is very common, probably about half of the stressful reactions that people experience, and is called “take care and love.”
Instead of causing an adrenaline rush, it releases oxytocin into the brain, and instead of striving to defeat an opponent, people who experience it want to take care of those who are more vulnerable, communicate with friends and allies and find mutually beneficial solutions. faced problems together. The desire to generate this kind of answer has led to what Code and TRU LUV are called artificial intelligence, an alternative to a game that has a non-zero sum and is based on strict principleThe code’s experience as an AI programmer working on some of the most complex virtual character interactions available in modern games has clearly come in handy here.
The code thought that she could do something, but did not expect the # SelfCare success rate, which included 500.00 downloads in just six weeks and more than 2 million today. And most of the feedback she received from users reinforced her hypotheses about what gives experience and that users are looking for an alternative to mobile games.
Fast forward to the future, and TRU LUV is expanding its team and focusing on iterating and developing new products to capitalize on the obvious interest they enjoy among this underserved half of mobile users. Code and her team have attracted investors whose views and portfolios are in line with their vision of the product and the spirit of the company, including Evolve Ventures, which has supported a number of socially progressive enterprises, and whose managing director Julius Mokrauer actually leads a course on this topic at Columbia Business. School.
Prior to the advent of COVID-19, #SelfCare was already showing a promising new path for the development of mobile technologies, but the product and TRU LUV are oriented to “sustainability and psychological development”, so it turned out to be well suited for a market in which mobile users were looking for ways to make long-term isolation more enjoyable . Obviously, we are just starting to feel what consequences the COVID-19 crisis will have, but it seems reasonable to expect that various types of mobile applications will be sought that will trigger reactions more in line with personal well-being.
The Code says that COVID-19 did not actually change the vision or approach of TRU LUV, but led the team to move more quickly to developing ready-made features and to parts of its roadmap, including creating social features that allow players to connect with each other friend, as well as with virtual partners.
“We want to advance our production a little faster than planned to meet our needs,” said Cod. “We also strive to create a social experience a little earlier than planned, as well as to take part in the need of people to be able to communicate, in addition to people who communicate through video games.”