This blog was guest-written by Kathy Xiaosi Gong, CEO and co-founder of WafaGames. She’ll be guest-speaking during the “Social Entrepreneurs Using Tech to Solve Global Problems” session of the Women Rock-IT series on November 16th.

As artificial intelligence (AI) shapes our future, technology itself is transforming to become more human and emotional.

In my opinion, emotional technology (ET) will soon be at the heart of a new generation of startups. What is emotional technology? It’s a technological solution that has the capability to intelligently identify, monitor, and adapt by itself from the mass of data created through our social networks.

In today’s hyper-connected world, the way we feel, express emotions, and interact with others has fundamentally changed. These activities now happen instantaneously, intertwined with no clear boundaries or sequence, and they spread at the speed of light.

With these changes, I believe the word ‘product’ will soon be replaced by the idea of an ‘experience.’ The most common things in our life will become various forms of experiences. There will no longer be steps to design, make, market, or sell one’s product; rather, these actions will happen at the same time and impact one another.

Emotional technology will become the core of building an experience and serving users or customers.

The technology applied to make a product is mechanic, yet creating an experience is organic, dynamic, and can be powerful for start-ups. It’s a wonder that the smallest companies have the ability to create an immersive experience for customers, one with built-in emotional technology and customized narratives.

As entrepreneurs, this shift requires a whole new way of thinking about our products and solutions. And as a form of mental exercise, I often ask myself a few simple questions:

What is the purpose of creating this experience?

What experience will I offer to best serve the purpose?

Where/how do I initiate this experience?

What kind of relationship do I need to develop with my audience during the experience?

How do I empower my audience to participate and become an organic part of the process?

How do I build the technical solutions as the fundamental infrastructure to evolve this experience?

Before emotional technology, I’d ask myself to identify target users and their biggest paint points. Then, I’d transition to developing the product to address these issues. However, when we embrace this new thinking, we can completely reshape our approach in finding and designing such solutions.

At WafaGames, the startup I co-founded with my two best friends, Joe Wu and Radwan Kasmiya, we see video games as ‘a digital form of storytelling’ through the collision of art and science; giving voices to the unheard and thus defining our purpose of creating a unique experience for consumers.

No human catastrophe is greater than war, and no tragedy is more painful than the loss of human life. People use games to kill virtual enemies for fun. However, we want to change the purpose of video games. That’s why we’ve chosen the Crusades as the theme for our newest game, which will allow users the opportunity to play out the period’s authentic and historical events. The Crusades serve as one of the darkest times in human history, and our attempt is to invoke thoughts on the consequences of war through our mobile application.

Before designing the game, we had to ask ourselves: How do we create a game with emotional technology, one where players experience a sense of self-expression in which they feel both emotion and moral ambiguity; that every decision they make is also going to affect the outcome?

Here comes the challenging part—the breakthrough to serve a purpose.

In order to remind a player that every decision he or she makes is also going to affect the outcome, we have to give players real-time control and realistic immersed experiences during gameplay. Unfortunately, such real-time strategy (RTS) games have yet to be created for mobile platforms.

Until now, players had no control of their troops or units once “deployed” on the virtual battlefield. The software barriers of real-time path-finding and artificial intelligence (AI), as well as the limitations of mobile devices made the experience impossible for developers and consumers.

To solve this problem, we spent months on research and development (R&D), and breaking through required creative, out-of-the-box thinking, as well as a strong purpose to serve.

With the implementation of new algorithms, we can now simulate realistic steering behaviors and swarm-like movement to support hundreds of moving soldiers in mobile games. Players now have the freedom to control their armies in real-time during the gaming experience. This allows tremendous possibilities for new gameplay, strategies, and previously unimaginable gaming experiences.

But, that is only the beginning of an experience—we need to build a dynamic ecosystem.

We decided again to invest in R&D and build an innovative Map Level Editor (software used to design map & campaign levels; the virtual worlds of a video game). We will soon give this Map Level Editor to players so they can design, evolve, and enrich their entire gaming experience.

Video games are our means to reach massive audiences and transform players into witnesses. History is not necessarily written by conquerors or winners. There is no winner at the end of every battle. Each one of us can be a game changer in today’s digital world, but emotion is the future.

Take your first step in joining us by registering today for our session in the Women Rock-IT Cisco TV series, “Social Entrepreneurs Using Tech to Solve Global Problems.”


Austin Belisle

No Longer with Cisco