The app’s CEO and creator, Mkami Kinoti Kimotho, talks about the idea and inspiration behind it.
A few years ago, things changed for Mkami Kinoti Kimotho, the CEO and founder of Royelles. He now has two children, one of whom is an 11-year-old girl. Her child and her friends stopped playing with toys and started playing on their phones.
Kimotho told GamesIndustry.biz, “It’s how they create, it’s how they connect, how they learn, and it’s certainly how they have fun,” “Mobile gaming is really at the heart of everything they do.”
Kimotho was worried about how much time young girls spent playing on their phones and in virtual worlds. She knew that this could lead to problems like body shaming, cyberbullying, and mental health problems.
Kimotho thought it would be a good thing if girls like her daughter spent a lot of time playing on their phones.
Kimotho says, “It became my mission to leverage gaming, and more specifically educational gaming that is inclusive and safe, as a means of dismantling the erroneous mindsets our kids have and tackling the issues that parents, educators, and champions of all our girls in particular were struggling and grappling with.”
Kimotho has been making Royelles, a smartphone app marketed as a metaverse platform for women, to help her do this. She says that girls and women are the fastest-growing group in the metaverse. “I really feel like the future of the metaverse is female,” she says.
The goal of the app is to “broaden the standard of courage, brilliance, beauty, and all things powerful” so that women all over the world can see themselves in games.
Even though it’s called “metaverse,” the Royelles app, which is currently available on Google Play and the App Store, is only for one player. It is expected that multiplayer features will be added within a year, but Kimotho says that the company is moving more slowly on purpose to better control how much exposure players have to other people, especially since the game is aimed at young people.
In the meantime, Royelles has been hosting live virtual experiences where 20 to 50 young gamers and their adult chaperones meet on Zoom to explore topics in a game-like way, meet female and non-binary role models (like activists, tech executives, or astronauts), and find out what a day in their lives is like. Players will have to wait until the social online part of the app is added. In the past, the Girl Scouts and NASA worked together on an event.
The app now has a number of activities run by a princess named Mara. Her mother wants her to be the first female commander of her country’s peacekeeping forces, but Mara wants to be the first person to live on Mars. Royelles has a lot of things to do with Mars, like information about the solar system and a driving game where the player must carefully move a rover across the surface of Mars.
“The entire narrative is built around the idea that big dreams require courage and boldness and bravery,” says Kimotho. Your guiding principles should be authenticity and the idea that the traits and qualities that make you stand out as different and unique are your superpowers.
So, what is the business plan for Royelles? Kimotho says that the app is now free to use, but that users will eventually have to pay for in-app experiences and customizations. Also, the company is talking with “mission-aligned groups and corporate partners” about adding sponsored interstitial ads to other parts of the game.
Kimotho says there is also a big B2B opportunity, especially with educational institutions and organizations with similar goals. What we’ve made is great for STEM, STEAM, social-emotional learning, developing leadership skills, and enrichment programs. When asked if the company’s clear focus on making a metaverse for women might limit its B2B potential, Kimotho says, “Yes and no.”
Even though the app focuses on women, she says, it doesn’t stop people of any gender from using it. “I think teachers are very worried that this group isn’t always being served well and that there aren’t enough women in STEM fields.”
Kimotho says that the marketing campaign for the app is more focused on reaching media diet monitors than on reaching actual end users.
Kimotho says that our plan for going to market is pretty well thought out. Because of the age range we’re aiming for, we talk to parents, or people who have a parental role in that child’s life, as well as their teachers, mentors, champions, and other people who may be passionate about STEM/STEAM or female empowerment. Royelles has to compete with services like Roblox and Minecraft because of this, but it can convince parents that their children would benefit more from using its own software.
Kimotho also talks about helping competitors, such as other groups that work to empower and inspire women. Even though the company focuses more on books and stories than interactive game-like content, she uses Rebel Females, an app with empowering audio stories for girls, as an example of this kind of content.
Kimotho says that the truth is that we are dealing with a generation that is really good at mobile games. So, I think of as a competitor any app for kids between the ages of 4 and 12 that keeps them interested.
Royelles has mostly used its own money up until now, with the exception of a few grants and awards it won from pitch competitions. Kimotho wants to look into venture capital in the next six to twelve months. She will have to convince them of the app’s potential and what she thinks success looks like, but what does success look like in an enlightening and motivating metaverse?
Kimotho says, “”Success is as simple as the child who engages with our platform recognizing how powerful they are and taking a bold, fearless, undaunted approach to being the best they can be and realizing their potential,” She also says that she wants to make this success happen tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions, of times around the world.
“Success for us really is about creating awareness about what we’ve built, engaging with communities across the country and the globe, getting as much insight and feedback from them about this first iteration of what we’ve built, tweaking it quickly to address their needs, and bringing more and more to the market,” she says.