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Game shot raised $ 2.6 million to expand its social platform where millions of Gen Z gamers and creators share and discover content around their favorite video games.
The fundraising cycle marks a milestone for a company that has come a long way and is distinguished by its CEO and husband and wife leadership.
The Seattle-based company was founded by David DeCarmine in 2002 when he was 14 in New York City. A self-taught programmer, he created Game Jolt (under a different name) as a place where gamers could discover and play indie games and enjoy the company of others in forums and chat rooms. He grew up slowly.
âBack then, it was just a bunch of hobbyists making games,â CEO Yaprak DeCarmine said in an interview with GamesBeat. âIt really started out as a sort of side passion project. But here we are. Game Jolt has seen such growth since then.
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David DeCarmine met his future wife, Yaprak DeCarmine, while playing games and working at tech startup Zulily. Yaprak grew up in Turkey and immigrated to the United States. She had become a fan while playing with her older brother. And she learned to speak English partly by playing video games. They married in 2014 and Yaprak convinced David that they should quit their jobs to work full time on Game Jolt.
It was a scary time to take that leap, with no big safety net. That year was the heyday of GamerGate, and as a woman, Yaprak DeCarmine felt quite vulnerable running a community gaming site.
She ultimately decided that she would be more of a public figure and “be a positive force in this industry, so that other women and girls can enter the industry because they will see me here.”
Now Game Jolt has grown into a collection of player-initiated communities. There are over 40,000 of them, and Game Jolt’s largest communities exceed 500,000. Globally, the number of users is in the millions. But communities are not what you would expect based on the popularity of the games. For example, Five Nights at Freddy’s has a much larger community than Call of Duty: Warzone.
âThe industry has evolved and our platform has also gone through a very big transition,â said Yaprak DeCarmine. âWe have always been a place for the players rather than another showcase. So the players on our platform have just started to share their content and increase the number of subscribers themselves. Today, we’re building a social community platform for gamers and the types of content they love. What we have seen is that the players are the ones who create the majority of the content. They love to create fan art of their favorite video game characters, they record videos of themselves playing games or playing with their friends. They write guides and review the games they play so they can have these meaningful discussions.
And while other platforms have communities, it’s not easy to post the things players create in those places, Yaprak DeCarmine said. The company has built in-house moderation tools with enough automation for the team to moderate millions of people entering each month. Users can report offensive content and the business can deal with it. The company is also investing in machine learning.
Their mission is to evolve and become something like TikTok for gamers. Game Jolt will use the capital to create live streaming, discovery and in-app monetization for its game-based content creators. It’s very different from some of the other gaming communities like Discord, Twitch, Reddit, and others.
Acequia Capital led the investment cycle alongside Madrona Venture Group, Graph Ventures and Inventures Collective. Tech leaders, including the founders of Twitch (Kevin Lin), Rec Room (Nick Fajt) and Mod.io, have joined the round.
Hank Vigil of Acequia Capital said in a statement: âYaprak and David are inspired and deeply connected with the growing energy of the gaming movement, especially with the new generation of gamers who are taking digital and social first from day one. . We share their vision and enthusiasm and look forward to helping them make Game Jolt the # 1 community platform for gamers.
SoftBank gave the company its first round of funding via an accelerator program for under-represented founders. And the company was able to raise its last round of funding in a few weeks.
The company has beta versions of its iOS and Android platforms and plans to officially launch them later this year. But the mobile versions are already amassing a lot of users. The company has 10 employees.
“We are definitely in seventh heaven,” said Yaprak DeCarmine. âIt’s not just our favorite project anymore. It’s crazy.”
Gaming businesses run by women
I took a minute to think about the current game companies founded or run by women. I created Team17, Kabam, AviaGames, Romero Games, Elodie Games, Kongregate, Game Jolt, Double Loop Games, Byju’s, DMarket, Carry1st, Glass Bottom Games, XEO Design, Media Molecule, 343 Industries, Kitfox, Funomena, Arkadium, Maestro Games and Transmission Gaming. (I’m sure I missed a few. Let me know more on social media. I’m happy to note that we’ve written about a lot of these companies).
âThe gaming industry has grown as well, as a $ 175 billion industry with three billion players worldwide,â said Yaprak DeCarmine. âI really want us to become the audience for the entire gaming industry. It’s a crazy goal, but I’m excited about it.
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