Interactive App Defying Video Game Stereotypes & Empowering Kids To See Themselves As Heroes

imaginme-app

A long long time ago, the world of video games belonged exclusively to men and boys. Today, the gaming world landscape is half occupied by women and girls. With this huge change in trend over time comes the need for content that appeals to both men and women. However, there have been many growing pains for this industry and its audience adjusting to the influx of females both as game developers and players.

One of the main criticisms has been the stereotypical and often sexualized imagery of women in the games, which became the focus of the gamergate saga.

Shifting our attentions away from the adult-targeted games, there is a whole generation of gamers being brought up as digital natives who deserve to have age appropriate content that doesn’t seek to marginalize them based on gender or background. We have seen how some parents, wanting to give their kids a positive way to get into the world of gaming, have decided creating their own game was the best option to ensure they could share the values that they feel are important.

One of those parents was Ricardo Turcios, who has created a unique way for kids to engage in the digital world, combine storytelling skills and also learn who the real heroes in life are: themselves. Ricardo, originally from New York, has a background in creative advertising and is currently based in Bangkok, Thailand.

imaginme-app-Zoe-ricardo-turcios

He was inspired by his daughter Zoe and the world she was growing up in, has launched a company called ImaginMe, which allows a user to create a 3D character based on themselves, and explore a world with challenges and scenarios that they choose and create.

One of the main aspects about ImaginMe is that it promises “no more princesses” which caught our eye as it seems like a game that not only seeks to entertain, but educate children about gender stereotypes and break those down. We chatted with him about the motivation behind his idea to get a better grasp of this trend happening in the gaming industry.

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Tell us about the basic premise for ImaginMe and how it came about?

ImaginMe is an interactive story platform that allows kids to become (literally) the main character of each story. Every child can create their own unique 3D character and with it, enter the storybook world. The idea came about when my daughter began to develop a fantasy for becoming a princess. I felt it was overwhelming, the stereotypical princess influence, thanks to brands like Barbie and Disney. So, I decided to create something that would give kids more options to choose from.

imaginme-app-Zoe-sidebyside

Storytelling is a powerful medium and shapes a child’s perspective on the world from an early age. Why did you feel it was important to allow them to create their own narrative rather than accept the stereotyped versions that currently exist?

I guess it’s my instinct to protect my daughter. I come from an advertising background, and there have been some very powerful campaigns whose aim it is to empower young girls. I cringe when I think of the challenges my daughter will face of self-esteem and confidence as she grows up. I want her to know that she really can write her own story, not only in her books, but also in her life.

What are some of the things characters can do in the game?

The ideas are endless. We’re developing stories and games that cover many themes. One story is about gender stereotypes and being a hero. Some stories allow kids to face their fears, anything from monsters to potty-training. But we also have ideas that are simply for fun. Taking a ride in a spaceship or playing dress up. What’s important is that we provide a variety of positive messages and experiences.

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Gender stereotypes hurt boys and girls, yet they are everywhere in toy stores. How do you hope ImaginMe will change this issue?

I also have a 10-month old baby boy and he already shows a preference for boy stuff. He’s already crazy about cars and mechanical things. It seems very instinctual and I have no desire to change that. I hope ImaginMe will simply encourage children to experience new ideas and question stereotypes.

One of the slogans you are using is “no more princesses”, why is that?

I use it because it seems to get attention and it’s at the core of the change I’d like to create. There are lots princess stories, but not enough about explorers, painters, dancers, builders, etc.

imaginme-app-Space-Walk

The idea that children see an unrealistic view of what a “hero” is can be damaging. What kind of role models do you hope your daughter will grow up with?

There are so many wonderful role models out there. I will try to expose her to all shapes and sizes, women, men, even fantasy and fiction. I’m sure she’ll make the right choices.

Seeing the impact of gender stereotyping as a father and wanting to change that is really awesome to us! What advice would you give to other parents who are concerned about this issue and want to change it in their child’s life?

Teach them to believe in themselves and respect all others. And cut down a bit on mainstream media and romantic comedies.

imaginme-app-Fast-And-Curious

ImaginMe are running an IndieGoGo campaign which you can contribute to and be part of this new trend of interactive entertainment developers who are seeking to disrupt the market and allow the next generation of young minds to view the world in a more equal and empowered way.

Thanks Ricardo for being an awesome father who understands the importance of allowing children to grow up with realistic heroes!

2 Comments

  1. Awsome summary of this new highly innovative app

  2. Pingback: 'The Princess Who Saved Herself' Is The Book EVERY Girl Needs To Read

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