Gaming Guru Jane McGonigal taught us that we spend 3 billion hours a week playing computer and videogames worldwide. What if we harnessed that time to make the world a better place, while still having a hella good time playing games?
The idea behind Seeds springs from this foundation.
Seeds is a revolutionary social game that facilitates direct mobile-to-mobile microlending from the developed to the developing world, or even in your own backyard. Gamers can explore an immersive playable world, communally rebuilding a virtual civilization while simultaneously microlending money to boost real entrepreneurs. Seeds gamifies microlending, using fun incentives to motivate players to greater generosity.
Our team includes insight from Amanda Wixted, the former Tech Lead of Zynga's iOS Team (responsible for bringing Farmville and Mafia Wars to iPhone), and Game Designer Brad Wiggins, recipient of IGN's 2005 Mobile Platformer of the Year Award (both Editor's and Player's Choice) and Wireless Gaming World's 2007 Award for Casual Game of the Year. They are awesome.
This summer we worked out of the iHub, Kenya's premiere co-working space, which houses the best technologists in Kenya. A crew of Duke students/alums joined us in Kenya - Anne, Mailande, Leonard, Nissa and Izzy, and later Helen in New York. We were all working to connect the dots on the ground, creating a scaleable, sustainable model for Seeds.
The Seeds revenue model is three-pronged:
1) We monetize impatience. As you rebuild a citadel in the game, you can either wait hours in real time to complete a level, or use virtual currency to expedite the process. Virtual currency can be purchased with real dollars. Proceeds will be microlent to borrowers.
2) The sale of virtual goods: Within the Seeds virtual world, you can purchase limited edition virtual goods using in-game currency to decorate your world. Proceeds will be reinvested in for-profit microloans.
3) Actively asking players to make microloans to the businesses of their choice.
Thus, we're merging two multi-billion dollar industries - social gaming and microfinance. We're taking the profits social games make, and reinvesting it in entrepreneurs for a profit, empowering women and buoying economies (including our own!).
Here's a screen shot from the prototype!
The world of Seeds is populated by plant-like creatures called the Zeople. The Zeople lost their civilization in a great cataclysm, but players around the world can band together to help them rebuild.
Each player loans their effort to rebuilding a citadel for the Zeople to inhabit. As players invest more time into the game, the player’s citadel will also evolve and grow. Players can decorate their citadels and personalize their world.
Each of the Zeople in the player’s citadel will inherit unique traits from its parents. When the player is allowed to add another Zeople to their citadel, they get to choose the parents. One of the parents must belong to the player, and the second must come from one of the player’s friends to encourage social interaction within the world of Seeds!
The money we raise through Fundable will allow us to take Seeds to the next level. We have a working prototype that has been recently approved by the App Store, and we have successfully disbursed a loan via mobile phone in Kenya (and successfully received two mobile repayments, both right on time!) but we need further funding to:
1) Pay the engineers who will build an even better version of Seeds for iPhone
2) Pay the engineers who will build out Seeds for Android, our next big goal!
3) Pay the engineers (yeah, you got it - engineers are expensive yo!) who will build the Seeds API, so that we can partner with already established and developing games.
Our Dream: We want to build a world in which every game ever built incorporates the Seeds API, funneling capital from all games into for-profit social initiatives that can TRANSFORM THE WORLD. We want to live in a future in which games, by definition, are fun vehicles for for-profit social change.
While we're in Kenya we'll have cameras with us, and we'd love to share our experiences with you via our exclusive video content - join us in our successes and struggles as we work to bring Seeds to the masses, and get a glimpse of a version of Sub-Saharan Africa that you may not have imagined before - Nairobi as a burgeoning global tech powerhouse.