The mobile casual market is awash with amateur titles that are clumsily designed to appeal to female audiences, from sequels to hypercasual fashion and makeover games to story-driven home design games.
Mobile veterans Emily Yim and Ksusha Zito have been following this market for some time and have identified the need to create games for women that tap into interests beyond the usual stereotypes, to create deeper social experiences than more types. women can appreciate.
With an initial investment of $3 million to build a team, Yim and Zito are poised to bring their own offering to the mobile market, aiming to create casual games that go beyond more traditional genre stereotypes. .
Yim and Zito don’t identify as “gamers” by definition, but both play and enjoy casual mobile games and came together through a shared love of the genre. Yim tells us that she started out as a PC gamer, but her interests later shifted to casual and mobile gaming, even more so after becoming a mom.
“It became kind of a lifeline because I couldn’t really control my day,” said Superbloom CEO Yim. GamesIndustry.biz. “My days were baby related and it was a chaotic experience. Mobile and casual games became a source of control, productivity and joy.”
After that, Yim began to pay more attention to the types of games that were meant only for women, how they were portrayed in the games, and the narratives that followed them. She quickly noticed that the vast majority of these games were puzzle and story games around themes like fashion and home decor, and was quickly disappointed in them.
“I started to expand this idea of a games studio built by women and to create games for women, which are also closely related to the real interests of women,” says Yim.
Yim recalls past experiences of being the only woman in the room at certain workplaces and notes that it’s not uncommon for other women to experience this.
“As I progressed in my career, I started to meet more women in leadership positions and to discover the power of more women in the team, so I really wanted to foster and create this culture and this environment to create games for women,” she adds.
After initial sightings, Yim then approached Zito, a veteran mobile developer who has held engineering positions at Dots and The New York Times. Zito didn’t need much convincing to accept Yim’s Superbloom vision and was already considering his next step.
“Emily has approached me before with such a brilliant story behind her,” said Zito, CTO of Superbloom. “I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s do it’ because I feel like it connects me really well, especially since I wasn’t really a player.
“Even though I’ve worked in the gaming industry, I’m the kind of woman Emily describes who doesn’t see herself as a gamer, but then can get into it if the content interests me, so I felt really aligned with that.”
Yim explains that Superbloom aims to tap into “content niches that others don’t really look at,” but didn’t highlight any specific themes. However, one area she wants to expand on is the social aspect of casual games and how they are often casual in nature to the game they participate in.
“Social mechanics in casual and lifestyle games are often done superficially to approach casual audiences,” Yim says. “I’m just kind of interacting with someone behind a username. I don’t know where he’s from, I don’t know who he is.”
She compares this to more robust social experiences in other games like World of Warcraft, where you can engage in more meaningful gameplay and interactions.
“I started to think: why don’t we have this for games that specifically target women? Social gameplay and the robustness of this social game is another category that we want to innovate and modernize the life of games with. .”
“It takes more effort and time to find a diverse group of people, but I’ve seen that once you build it, it pays off”
While Superbloom’s mission is to provide a more varied option for women, it doesn’t aim to create games so geared towards women that no one outside of the target audience can enjoy them.
“From my point of view, it’s not really about saying, ‘Hey, as a woman, you should like this, so we’ll make games for you,'” Yim says. “It’s not really the vision, it’s more of a goal [on] games with a female perspective rather than just making games for a general audience.
“I don’t see it as dividing women into certain categories or putting them in a corner, but rather as we look at the public and what they do, what interests them – not necessarily in the gaming market, but in content in other areas – and then try to turn it into interesting and social gameplay.”
As Yim and Zito seek to grow Superbloom, creating a diverse workspace is of ongoing importance, especially as Yim notes that there is a lack of female engineers in the market.
“It takes more effort and time to find a diverse group of people,” Yim says. “But I’ve seen that once you’ve built it, it pays off because that diverse group of people are more likely to be open and inclusive with each other, cooperative and collaborate well, and In the end, it’s better for the team.”
Zito adds that in past companies, she’s always been passionate about trying to get more women into engineering spaces and seeing more women in leadership positions.
“I remember being the only female engineer on the team for a long time, being the only female manager, and so I try to do that all the time,” she says.
The two women are also working mothers and want to create a space that can accommodate their professional life as well as their life as parents.
“What we have realized, especially during the pandemic, is how difficult it is to be professional,” she adds.
“As we shape the culture, we try to understand why women often leave the technological environment or the work environment when they become mothers, and how to create a culture that allows them to know what to do.
“I was about to think, should I just go away and focus more on my kid? And so finding that balance has been a passion of ours as well.”
Yim adds that she initially considered becoming a mum a bit of a handicap and wondered if she could still maintain the necessary levels of work.
“Before becoming a mom, I wondered if you could really be efficient or productive, but time is a resource that you don’t really have on hand at that time,” adds Yim.
“But what I’ve learned personally is that once you become a mom, you become more resilient, you take on a challenge you’ve never taken on before and you become more flexible, and I think that it makes people more pleasant to work with overall.”