Being a teen is great and all, but there’s a lot to survive, and much of it doesn’t get talked about.
Your character has just returned home after a year in France and enrolled at Weasel Heights, a school that’s as bizarre as its name. The rugby team is obsessed with imaginary animals, the principal keeps trying to talk students into meditating, and the girls who keep harassing you appear to be sharing one brain across three bodies. As if figuring out the social landscape isn’t hard enough, the previous owner of your locker leaves you the only clue to solve the mystery of her sudden disappearance.
Welcome to LongStory.
LongStory is a dating and adventure game that helps pre-teens sandbox healthy relationships and sexuality. It deals with issues such as consent, bullying, being different, fitting in and learning how to ask for what you really want. In short, it’s about the reality of growing up in the digital age. It’s also super fun.
Just ask our playtesters.
Girls make up 42% of the global gaming audience, yet remain an under-served market. Dating games and ‘virtual boyfriends’ on smartphones or web sites are an increasingly popular form of entertainment for girls aged 9 - 14.
Unfortunately, commercial games promote an unhealthy obsession with appearance and focus on capturing ‘the right boy’. The current crop of games for tween girls is depressingly monotone and stereotypical. Portal sites like GirlsGoGames created by Spil Games boast traffic of over 190 million monthly unique users yet offer a paucity of unique and interesting experiences.
Popular games for tweens include Shopaholic, where you spend money to buy specific items of clothing to add points and increase your spending power, or Prom Preparation Makeover, where you help your fashion-challenged friend get cleaned up for the prom.
Mobile games do not fare better. Titles like ‘Modern Girl’ and ‘Fashion Icon’ two surprisingly retrograde role-playing games demand little more of the player than she run around cities like New York, Barcelona and Miami, collecting outfits and accepting gifts from suitors that she can rate from 1 - 10.
We see an opportunity to create a great romantic adventure game for girls that provides them with fun and meaningful interactivity. The market for adolescent media is lucrative and filled with recognizable name brands. Some of the well-known transmedia properties for young adults include Harry Potter, Twilight and Hunger Games, with revenues in the millions of dollars.
LongStory is an adventure-based, queer positive, romantic game that respects girls’ developmental stages, values them as individuals and doesn’t promote harmful stereotypes. There are very few other media properties that do this. It's the first media property of it's kind to introduce a dating framework that models positive relationships for pre-teens who are straight, gay, or still trying to figure it all out.
Girls are growing up in a difficult time. Bullying and sexual harassment issues are of growing concern among parents and educators. Girls who are bullied have difficulty coping with daily life, displaying absenteeism, depression and addictive behaviours. Furthermore as adults, victims and bullies can continue to suffer from mental health problems that grow more troublesome and costly over time.It’s important that girls have a chance to play-test new scenarios in safe environments. LongStory is an emotional sandbox where players can experiment with behaviour and choices they may not be ready to make in real life, like how to stand up to the three-headed bully, have their first crush and even go on a date. By testing out these scenarios, players can draw parallels to real life and come up with new strategies for dealing with the drama that high school throws their way.
"I played LongStory at Fan Expo Canada just a few weeks ago and was shocked at how much the game reminded me of the heralded Canadian television show; Degrassi. LongStory tackles some pretty difficult subjects that we as adults sometimes like to sweep under the rug." ~ Brian Sharon, journalist
“Technology-based programs that enable girls to role play and problem solve in virtual contexts that reflect their own realities hold promise. They offer girls the opportunity to strategize and engage positively in a gaming context.” ~ Dr. Catherine D. Bruce, PhD, School of Education and Professional Learning, Trent University
Our goal is to grow LongStory into a season-long episodic game with regular releases and updates. Each episode can include new and existing characters and a storyline that carries through the season. Players can engage with the game through our website and help us come up with new character ideas.
We have a playable prototype, incredible feedback from our play testers and relationships with Planned Parenthood Toronto, Hacking Health and Centennial College, but we need more support to finish development and ship the final product. Putting together a proper business plan, and building business partnerships so we can finish the first episode and implement a marketing and distribution strategy are some of the challenges we are currently facing.
In short, we know how to make great games but we need help learning how to get them into people’s hands.
Ideaboost is an incubator with a focus on nurturing excellence in Canadian entertainment & interactive. We are actively seeking to build our expertise as entrepreneurs in this space and would welcome the opportunity to learn more with Ideaboost and the members of our cohort.
We see Ideaboost as the perfect program to help us grow as an brand and develop LongStory into a game and social community that pre-teens love.