Conceived by Rosie Roshanak Linder, Peppy Pals began with an idea to create an experience for children to develop their understanding for other people’s feelings and has grown into an award winning game. Now working with an accomplished team of developers, Rosie hopes to realize her ambition to positively impact the world with the power of gaming. This is her profile!
Could you chart your entry into the industry?
If someone told me for years ago that I was going into the gaming industry, I would probably have thought that this person either does not know me well or is crazy. My kids were my biggest inspiration to begin my gaming journey. I saw how they loved to play games and would sit for hours and almost disappear into another world. I realized the power of games and started to think “why not create a game that could contribute to something positive, by offering a deeper message. How difficult can it be to gamify Emotional Intelligence? This was more than 3 years ago and thankfully I was naive!
What would you say are some of the major challenges you face as a relatively new and small outfit?
Besides chasing financing, the biggest challenge was to find developers who actually understood Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and were willing to do something innovative and different. When I met Erik Wonnevi from Talawa Games, I knew that he was the designer who could make my dream come true. Together with Talawa games, who are my cofounders now, we created a demo that got a fantastic response and brought in funding.
The studio has so far forged a reputation for titles aimed at tackling issues among a younger audience. What inspires the games and could you describe the creative process?
Our passion is to prevent bullying by teaching preschool kids about emotions, friendship and Empathy. The creative process is that our Lead Designer Erik Wonnevi listens to my ideas and experiences with my own kids, scratching his head and tells me “ok let me come back to you with some scenario suggestions”. After a while I receive a storyboard explaining how he thinks he can come up with a scenario that does not only focus on EQ/EI but also fun and entertainment. I test it on kids (mostly my kids and their friends) then finally we decide what to integrate based on the feedback we receive, then the team can start producing the scenario. When we have some ready scenarios, we visit preschools for pilot testing and we often come back with some more tweaks. I would say that involving the kids while we are creating the game is one of the key factors to all the success we have achieved so far!
How would you describe the indie scene in Sweden and the Nordic region?
There are so many talented developers and great ideas of innovative games but there are not many financing possibilities for making different type games. Many traditional VCs are still conservative and consider gaming as risky business even though the industry is growing explosively.
What areas of the scene could be further developed?
My wish is that other successful gamers such as King, Dice and Minecraft would help to finance smaller studios that are different than the stereotypes and actually dare to make innovative and non-standard games.
As a woman in a position of prominence within the industry, what kind of challenges have you faced and what could be done to foster a mindset of acceptance?
I am neither a gamer, nor a developer and certainly not a male. I began networking and pitching my idea to game studios, universities, incubators and renowned people within gaming industry. I talked with both experts in psychology and gaming and eventually I had a great network of people, who listened to me and respected me for my passion to make a change. I’m astonished that I was taken seriously by all these people. Almost everyone I met wanted to help me even though I couldn´t offer anything but a lunch or a cup of coffee. It must have sounded crazy that a mom wanted to make a game but people were so kind and helpful to me. Maybe I have had good luck but I never felt that people treated me differently because I was a woman.
What sort of values do you look for in a creative partners and who are the developers and studios you admire for cultivating a culture of inclusiveness?
I admire people who want to change the world and actually do it. I am so proud of my team who struggle hard with very low salaries because of the passion to make good games and combat bullying. They are also feminists and support equality and diversity in games. I think it´s sad that women are still excluded from mainstream games and that video games are seen as male-dominant. Women gamers are here to stay and it is not smart to ignore 50% of your customers.
Who are the Nordic developers you look to for inspiration?
Toca boca and Minecraft
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I would say try Peppy Pals off course. Peppy Pals could also be fun and useful for adults and an eye-opener that reminds you of the fact that compassion is the key to happiness.