‘My Dream’ Founder Allison Huynh On Being A Female Game Creator, Mom & Entrepreneur


The 2014 video game scandal Gamergate which exposed the sexism, misogyny and online harassment of women in the gaming world to epic proportions has made all of us realize that although it is the 21st century, there are many areas that are still being fiercely protected as “male only”.

Female game creators and online critics of the sexism in gaming were targets of some very serious death threats which just showed how disgusting and pathetic inequality can be. It reminded many of us of a high school playground where kids feel very threatened when other kids invade their turf.

And don’t get us started on the ongoing discussion about links between violence and hatred and video games such as ‘Call of Duty’ and ‘Grand Theft Auto’ which was banned from certain stores in Australia after people protested against the violent depictions it included toward women.

Despite the ugliness that still continues to this day (just tweet something using the hashtag #gamergate slamming sexism in gaming and see what happens if you don’t believe us. The trolls are a-plenty!) there are men and women who are actually doing some great work in the gaming world and attempting to change the status quo.

One of those people is Allison Huynh, a Stanford University Engineering graduate and entrepreneur who created a game to balance out the violence that is the cornerstone of many popular titles today. The game is called ‘My Dream’ which is the successful product of a Kickstarter campaign in 2014.


Why did she create it? Because she wanted an alternative for her young son who loved many components of the game Minecraft, yet kept getting nightmares from the bombings and killing he saw it in. Instead of just flat out banning games altogether, she recognized that certain aspects such as building and creating worlds, problem solving and interacting with a community to hunt for treasure were positive things that enabled her shy son to develop social interaction skills.

There is no killing, and the focus is on adventures.

Her kickstarter raised more than the initial $100,000 asking price, and also attracted some bigger industry investors which helped her get it off the ground. It also shows us that perhaps the gaming industry is more ready for different types of games than we think. Not to burst any Call of Duty fans’ bubbles, but Kim Kardashian’s Hollywood mobile game is predicted to make $200 million by this summer, and is ranked as one of the top 5 money makers in both the Apple and Google app stores.

The point is not that we need more games about shopping, it’s that when the dialog becomes a huge push back against change despite the numbers showing how welcome that change is, there needs to be a re-examining of the issue.

In an interview with Forbes.com, Allison shares why stories like hers are powerful, and why women cannot be ignored in the gaming world as both creators and players any longer.

“[I] created a product that [I] wanted to see in the marketplace that wasn’t available because most games are created by men who are making decisions based on data. Data is good but what’s missing is addressing moms who are one of the biggest purchasers of video games. Women aren’t only purchasers, they are also playing video games more than men. And it’s not just mobile games, women are outnumbering men in traditional core games like World of Warcraft,” she said.


She also said that just because she is a mom of three kids, she automatically get put in a different class by people in Silicon Valley. It’s not that she is not qualified either, after all she teaches programming to high school kids, has been an engineer for 15 years and is clearly tech-savvy. It is the cultural stigma that often creates a barrier preventing systemic change.

“But that point – I’m a mom — is the point that the media and investors get stuck on because many people think a mom can’t handle the demands of a start-up. Or they think that moms are supposed to stop the fun and that MyDream will be watered down.”

“I built my entire company, a massive code base, got investors from Silicon Valley to put money into the company and yet there are posts out there that say I’m a fake gamer girl, or MyDream isn’t a real company. I can’t believe that I have to even defend that,” she said.

“[Some men] think we will opt out because we can’t handle business and when the going gets tough, we will be distracted — meaning we will get married and quit working.”

Coming from a woman who secured 30 (count ’em THIRTY) angel investors, it’s baffling to think there are people who refuse to look at a previously-untapped market which has the potential to make business owners more money than ever before. Diversity is a GOOD thing, it is beneficial for everyone.


Startups are about vision, passion and execution. As a woman and a mom I bring more positives to these categories, than risks,” says Allison about the advice she would give to other women in her situation. “For women, they need to focus on what they bring to the table: their passion, unique insight and technical skills. Often investors will discount ‘soft’ skills such as marketing or networking skills over programming. It is important to list out concretely what you bring to the table.”

She also adds that women need to remain calm under pressure because often times they are being tested in new territory.

“People have asked me if I have a rich husband or father who is funding my business. The actual answer to this question doesn’t matter, but what does matter is how tactful and graceful the answer is. My tip: I think of controversial questions regarding kids, marriage status, family planning and I have some graceful answers prepared ahead of time.”

One of the things she prepared was a list of things she brought to the table that perhaps other creators couldn’t. As a mom of gamer kids, she was ideally placed to see the direct impact that games have on a daily basis on children. Because of her home situation, she already knew that she didn’t want a game that encouraged violence, or forced in-game buying, instead she wanted only things that encouraged creativity, construction, and fun.

“To design MyDream, I encouraged our team to look at the three Cs: creativity, collaboration and courage. These are skills I want my kids to have in real life. MyDream is a natural learning system that promotes the three Cs.”

My Dream is currently still in the Alpha/Beta stage, yet they already have hundred of thousands of users. What was that quote she gave before about some industry execs only looking at data? Seems her investors knew they were onto something big with her game, possibly the next big trend in online and video games (we hope!).

“There is great demand for what we are doing. It’s a no brainer: the combination of create your own quest, realistic graphics and hosted online worlds for less than the cost of a hosted Minecraft server is unbeatable. We have seen thousands of users a day get disgruntled at the Minecraft/Microsoft acquisition and are emailing us to move their service over to MyDream. We expect millions more to join by March 2015.”

Now that’s what we call a boss lady: someone who doesn’t care to get caught up in the politics of gender in an industry where it has become so apparent over the last year, and instead chooses to user her unique set of skills and family situation as a brilliant business opportunity. If you weren’t a gamer before, you now have a good reason to become one.



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