Cyber bullying is a major problem for kids growing up in this high-tech day and age. Now a team of game developers from Electronic Arts have founded a new studio and released High School Story, a fun and educational iOS game for kids that combats depression in teens and issues around cyber bullying.
Spawned by the tragic suicides of 2 students and his own experience of bullying as a child, Pixelberry CEO Oliver Miao set out to use his game creation talents to make a difference. With the help of co-founders Winston She and Keith Emmet, also formerly from EA, Pixelberry’s first game High School Story lets teens play out the lives of characters in a cartoon version of a high school. The problems that teens face in the game’s school are very real, however. The player helps Hope, a young victim of cyber bullying.
It’s proven to be popular, and has had over 4 Million downloads! Your teen can grab High School Story from the iTunes App Store for free. For more information about the project, Pixelberry Studios, and its founders, check out the press release below.
Former Electronic Arts Game Developers Combat Teen Depression Through Hit Mobile Game With 4M Downloads
As teens ignore traditional support services, High School Story game provides creative storylines, in-app resources, and professional support for cyberbullying victims, and has pledged to match over $100,000 in in-app purchases to donate towards cyberbullying prevention and counseling programs
Mountain View, Calif – December 12, 2013 – Cyberbullying is a major cause of teen depression, and it happens far too often. According to a 2011 survey by the Center for Disease Control, one in six US teens is cyberbullied every year. In light of the tragic deaths of teenagers Rebecca Sedwick and Audrie Potts, who both committed suicide after being cyberbullied, Pixelberry Studios – lead by CEO Oliver Miao, who was bullied as a 7th grader at Earl Warren Junior High in Solana Beach, California – is taking a stand.
Miao, and co-founders Winston She and Keith Emnett, all former Electronic Arts game developers, have driven the addition of cyberbullying-themed quests and content to High School Story, the hit iOS simulation game their studio developed. As the team began writing these quests, a player contacted them admitting suicidal thoughts. Their subsequent experience working with a crisis hotline to provide the teen resources highlighted how much of an impact they could have with High School Story.
“For me, one of the worst things about being bullied was feeling like there was nobody I could turn to for help, ” said Miao. “Pixelberry is excited to be using High School Story to help teens learn how to stop cyberbullying. Based on statistics from the Center of Disease Control, we’re estimating that 80,000 of our players could attempt suicide this year. If our efforts can help just a fraction of these players, High School Story will be supporting hundreds, if not thousands of teens through challenging junctures in their lives.”
In High School Story, players build their dream high school from the ground up, plan social and academic events, arrange dates and build friendships. Along the way, players meet a young cyberbullying victim named Hope and help her stand up to bullies. Using sensitive, realistic messaging developed in collaboration with award-winning cyberbullying charity The Cybersmile Foundation, players practice proven cyberbullying prevention techniques.
In addition to creating the in-game content, Pixelberry has pledged over $100,000 to Cybersmile by matching purchases of special in-game item. Over 400,000 players are currently playing the quest, and tens of thousands of these Cybersmile-themed items have already been purchased. Pixelberry’s donations will enable Cybersmile to offer around the clock online help, support and advice to vulnerable cyberbullying victims around the world
“Teens spend huge amounts of time playing games, and it’s wonderful to be able to provide the help, support and resources that they need to deal with cyberbullying through High School Story,” said Cybersmile founder Scott Freeman. “The money that Pixelberry is donating to Cybersmile is an example of how games can not only serve to teach teens, but also support charities like ours and tackle larger social issues. The support of Pixelberry is enabling us to reach more victims of cyberbullying. With the money they are raising lives have been, and will continue to be saved”
Miao and She sold Centerscore, their previous mobile game studio, to Vivendi in 2006. With Emnett, the trio made games like top seller Surviving High School at Electronic Arts. They founded Pixelberry Studios in 2012 and released High School Story in August of this year to instant acclaim. Upon launching internationally, the game was number five overall in the App Store’s game section, and is regularly found in the Top 50.
Pixelberry is raising funds in collaboration with Playmob. To learn more about this campaign, visit https://playmob.com/games/highschoolstory.
To learn more or download High School Story, visit: http://www.highschoolstory.com/.
About Pixelberry Studios:
Pixelberry Studios is a small mobile game company based in Mountain View, California. Founded in 2012 by EA veterans Oliver Miao, Keith Emnett and Wilson She, it is committed to creating fun, engaging games that change how people play and learn. Its first game, High School Story, challenges players to build their dream high school, and is a Top 50 game in the App Store with over 500,000 unique players every day.