Zig Zag Zoom Games, a Los Angeles game publisher, is unveiling a series of mobile games today, including one called Tree Story that has an interesting twist. Players can nurture seedlings in a kind of virtual gardening game. And when they’re done, real-world trees will be planted.
The idea is to use the power and reach of a billion mobile gamers to do good. After all, Americans spend about 2 hours and 38 minutes a day on their phones, with 50 of those minutes dedicated to playing games, according to analytics firm Flurry. By creating a game that can support good causes on a smartphone, Zig Zag Zoom Games hopes to catch players on the platforms they use most often.
The company has created a virtual tree game where players nurture seedlings into full-grown trees. When they send their pet trees off to virtual forests, then Zig Zag Zoom Games’ partners will plant a real tree. The player will find out where that tree was planted. thanks to the partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, Project Learning Tree, ACTrees, and the Arbor Day Foundation.
The game and company are the brainchild of Tom Kang, who teamed up with former Disney Interactive chief John Pleasants (chairman) and David Moon, chief operating officer, to start the company. Zig Zag Zoom Games has created a platform, Mobiliz3, that makes it easier to create games with charitable hooks for mobile gamers. The platform awards players Mobiliz3 points while playing fun mobile games. The players direct those points to the causes of their choice through the Mobiliz3 platform. Those points fund real-world activity, Kang told GamesBeat at the recent Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.
“First and foremost, we’re an entertainment company, and our No. 1 priority is to launch great mobile games,” Kang said. “In addition, we want to harness the reach and engagement of mobile games by allowing players to use their playtime for good. The more you play, the more you contribute. Our games and our Mobiliz3 platform provide an easy way for players to contribute to causes they care about from their mobile apps.”
For the Tree Story game, Zig Zag Zoom Games developed a partnership with Tree Planet, an award-winning game from South Korea that has resulted in the planting of more than 500,000 trees in 73 forests across 10 countries.
Zig Zag Zoom Games received strategic investment from iDreamSky, the big independent game publisher in Shenzhen, China.
“We have known Tom, John, and their team for years through our experiences working with them while they were at Disney,” said Jeff Lyndon, the president of iDreamsky. “They have proven that they can deliver high quality, globally appealing games. Their passion to use mobile games for positive impact is great, and we support their mission 100 percent.”
Meanwhile, Tom Tidwell, the chief of the U.S. Forest Service, said in a statement, “Partnering with Zig Zag Zoom, an organization committed to positive social and environmental impact, will enable the Forest Service to increase awareness of the importance of our nation’s forests and develop the next generation of conservationists.”
Zig Zag Zoom Games is also working on Towering Oceans, a 3D building game where players create eco-friendly towers on moving ships. As they sail around the world, they build, upgrade, and customize their vessels. In that game, Zig Zag Zoom is partnering with the Environmental Defense Fund.
And the company is also working on an endless-runner title, Pop Runner, where pop stars run through a landscape with parkour abilities. Zig Zag Zoom Games is developing Pop Runner in partnership with Sticky Studios, which previously made a game based on the hit film The Maze Runner.
Zig Zag Zoom is also developing Reel Quest is a non-cause game that combines slot machine reels and role-playing game mechanics. It will launch on Zig Zag Zoom’s Mobiliz3 platform and encourage players to do good by playing the other games.