TEL AVIV, Israel, Dec. 22, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Just in time for Christmas, there’s a new Minecraft game from the Israeli start-up company TOYA, which develops games for girl-empowerment. “My Snowy Journey” is an awe-inspiring trip up Mt. Everest where players follow in the footsteps of and are assisted by the first woman ever to reach the summit, Japanese climber Junko Tabei.
“Junko Tabei was an amazing woman,” said TOYA CEO Anat Shperling. “Although at the start of her career she had no help from her government or male mountaineers, she climbed not only Mt. Everest but the Seven Summit peaks – the highest mountains on seven continents.”
“As a role model for the millions of gamers playing Minecraft, especially girls, Junko is very special. She did things her own way, resisting and overcoming all obstacles. We were inspired by her personal passion for climbing, and created a game that enables you to climb Mt. Everest while experiencing fun and challenging gameplay.”
“My Snowy Journey” takes players up the mountain through a series of challenges, including three giant ice walls that increase in difficulty. With tools and the help of Whysa, a rather unpredictable old lady who appears in every TOYA game, gamers interact with Junko and each other as they climb to the top – where, like real mountaineers, they can leave their own permanent messages. The game is available for purchase at http://bit.ly/2Bv1PNW
“Making Everest look like its gigantic self, while not intimidating young gamers, was a design challenge we had to overcome,” said Yifat Anzelevich, TOYA’s COO. “We wanted girls to experience the immense, icy world of Everest while understanding how Junko’s personal approach of not being intimidated by the mountain was what enabled her to master it!”
TOYA was founded by Shperling and Anzelevich, women entrepreneurs, to create a brand of digital games and media designed to inspire and motivate young girls to realize their full potential, and expose boys to the accomplishments of women who changed our world. The small start-up is developing new Minecraft games designed to be an alternative to the typical “pink” games about fashion, pets and homecare targeted to grade-school-age girls.
The games are important for boys, too: research indicates that there is only one female for every five male characters in video games, and 76% of solo video game heroes are male, despite the fact that half of online gamers are female. The Minecraft games’ playful learning experience enables gamers to become explorers, adventurers and all sorts of heroes through experiencing the accomplishments of exceptional women from around the world. The company’s first Minecraft game, inspired by the work of renowned gorilla researcher Dian Fossey, was released in November.
“My Snowy Journey” will be featured on Microsoft’s “12 Days of Minecraft” and its skin pack will be available to play for free on December 29th. The game will be available for purchase starting December 19th. Toya is one of Microsoft’s few Minecraft content-creator partners and is the only one developing games that focus on phenomenal women achievers around the world. Most of the games include subtle encouragement for players to develop and use STEM skills, from understanding animal biology to figuring out the geology of mountain-climbing.
Minecraft itself is a gaming phenomenon, with a user base of more than 130 million gamers around the world, 40% of whom are female. The game’s popularity is rooted in its creative, non-violent approach, and in its graphics, both the users and their surroundings are made out of blocks, allowing unlimited choices in representation and creating new worlds.
“From the textures and colors of this game to the ability to join an online “community” of gamers who have completed the game successfully, ‘My Snowy Journey’ is a unique addition to the Minecraft universe,” Shperling said. “It’s another landmark for the TOYA approach: fun and interesting but with the serious purpose of empowering girls around the world.”
In 2018, TOYA will release a series of adventure games inspired by extraordinary women from Brazil, Egypt, the UK and Japan, and is expected to expand its content to linear media as well.