Cozy houseplants and self-care: how one startup is reimagining mobile gameplay as a healing activity – TechCrunch

Mobile well-being apps topped 1.2 billion downloads last year, while leading meditation app Calm alone pulled in $118.2 million in revenue, data from Sensor Tower indicates. That may leave some to believe the digital well-being market is essentially solved, but a new startup, Lumi Interactive, believes the opposite is true. The Melbourne-based, women-led company has identified a under-explored niche in the mobile market which involves translating offline, self-care activities into games as a means of reducing our collective stress and anxiety.

While most mobile games focus on having users compete against one another or achieve some sort of goal, the startup’s forthcoming title, Kinder World’s main aim is to help users relax. It accomplishes this through short, snack-sized sessions where it asks players to care for virtual houseplants by taking care of themselves in the real world.

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

Image Credits: Lumi Interactive

In some ways, this recalls how many of us spent months in creative play during the height of the pandemic engaged with games like Animal Crossing, the popular Nintendo game whose pressure-free environment helped many relax and pass the time under Covid-19 lockdowns. In Animal Crossing, players designed indoor and outdoor spaces, shopped for outfits and home accessories, planted flowers, and chit-chatted with animal pals.

As it turns out, the pandemic played a big role in Lumi Interactive’s founding, too, the company told TechCrunch.

“In late 2020, we were a small team of three, exhausted by the pandemic and a hard year for the business,” explains Lumi Interactive co-founder and CEO Lauren Clinnick. “We decided to take two weeks to refresh ourselves with a game jam to make something totally new, and mental well-being was very much on our minds. We’d also all become closer to nature over the harsh Melbourne lockdowns, and wanted to examine why houseplants had become part of a self-care routine for so many people we knew,” she says.

That gave rise to a question as to whether houseplant care could be brought into the digital world, and the team prototyped Kinder World as a result.

“It had a spark of something special after just two weeks, and the concept tested very strongly with our target audience straight away,” Clinnick says.

Both Clinnick and Lumi Interactive co-founder Christina Chen had a background in gaming before founding their new company, and had known each other for nearly a decade. Clinnick first entered the games industry as a marketing consultant for games like Crossy Road, co-founded a boutique games marketing agency, then moved into direct games development. Chen, meanwhile, had a technical background that saw her working on payments at Xbox Live and later as a Senior Producer at PopCap in Shanghai, before co-founding games publisher Surprise Attack (now known as Fellow Traveller).

The duo had bonded over their mutual love for data, underserved player communities and the new opportunities they believed were still on the horizon for mobile gaming, Clinnick says.

Image Credits: Lumi Interactive

As the team investigated the idea for a more collaborative, self-care-focused …….



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *