Boston-based Lifeguard Games, a kid-focused health education game company that did business as Wellapets, has changed its name to Wizdy and launched its first app, called Wizdy Pets, which teaches children about asthma management.
Wizdy also raised $300,000 in seed funding. The first tranche was announced in 2014 when the company raised $7,500 from Rough Draft Ventures. The rest of the funding came from Ray Rothrock, a partner emeritus at Venrock, and other angel investors.
Alexander Ryu, Wizdy’s former CEO, has stepped down and is now attending medical school, though he is still part of the team as an advisor. Nikita Virani, another cofounder, is now CEO.
Virani told MobiHealthNews the reason they changed their name was that Wellapets was focused only on virtual pet games. A few months ago, when the company started working on their next game, for food allergies, they decided they wanted a name that didn’t limit them to just virtual pet games.
“We started playing a lot of other games and talking to a lot of kids while we were researching what we wanted to do next and we just felt, why not try a different game?,” Virani said. “Kids don’t just play one type of game, kids are playing multiple different kinds of games at once. For allergies, we want some of our kids who are playing our asthma game to come into our next game because about 50 percent of kids who have asthma also have allergies. And if we did another virtual pet game we were not [convinced] that kids would want to play two games that were very similar to learn two very different yet essential skills.”
In Wizdy Pets, kids learn to manage their own asthma by adopting and caring for a fire-breathing dragon who has asthma. Kids administer the pet's inhaler, look out for and clean up potential asthma triggers, and play unlockable mini games so that the dragon can blow fire and defeat a smog monster. The app, available on iOS and Android devices, costs $1.99. It will also be available on Amazon soon.
Virani said that last year, they put the app on the market to beta test it and then made changes to the app based on feedback from users.
“The most important thing I think all of us learned was that kids were frustrated by our game design,” she said. “It took too long for kids to be able to progress in our game and they easily got bored with not having much more to do.”
Some of the things they added to improve these mechanics included playing mini games, reaching different challenges, and also unlocking badges. She added that now the dragon can breathe fire — which was one of the things that kids wanted to do most. Wizdy Pets also no longer requires users to give their pet the inhaler twice a day every day. The team found that because kids don’t own their own mobile devices and often rely on their parents to play the games, they weren’t able to administer the inhaler often enough.
Instead, kids can play a mini game that squeezes the 24 hour time period into a few minutes. The kid plays as a super hero who is flying through the air, and every 12 hours during their mission, they must click on the inhaler to proceed in the air without losing power.