Can you make us a game to play, I’m willing to pay

I was impressed by a lot of comments from players. For example, a blind boy played the game for about 3 months, met his lover in the game, and got married. He wrote a message to thank us.

When a player needed surgery because of illness, the visually impaired players who played the game together took the initiative to initiate a donation campaign to help him get through the difficulties.

There are many similar things, and this is one of the reasons why the team and I have been able to persist in making the game well.

When talking about the player feedback that impressed him, Yang Jun, CEO of Mind Interactive, replied to me.

After decades of struggle in the IT industry, Yang Jun founded his own company, Mind Interaction, in Beijing. It has only a small number of employees and more than 30 people. It is such a small company that many large companies have failed to do well. The thing – make a game for visually impaired players.

▲Yang Jun

This is a game that has almost no "precedents" to refer to. Everything depends on Yang Jun and the team to cross the river, taking huge business risks and solving countless problems, the mental interaction survives, and even It can be said that there is steady growth.

The game "Tingyou Jianghu" specially designed for visually impaired players has brought Yang Jun a career, and at the same time, some visually impaired players have a "harbour" that they can rely on each other.

nine nine eighty one

After studying in Europe, he returned to China to start a business in electronic hardware. With the rise of the smart phone trend, Yang Jun’s experience is almost the epitome of a generation of Chinese entrepreneurs. The persistence of more than ten years has added not only experience, but also people-to-people contact between.

Entrepreneurship allowed Yang Jun to occasionally come into contact with visually impaired people and learn about their daily life.

Most people's impression of visually impaired people may be masseurs, but today there are actually many people who are trying to break this established impression. Some of them have become brand operators and some of them have become developers, such as Mind Interaction Company's Engineer Zhong Ke.

▲ Yang Jun and Zhong Ke

Life is not just about work. Loss of vision not only means more inconveniences in life, but also means less spiritual entertainment. At this stage, the consumer content built around sound on the market is relatively fixed, such as audio novels and cross talk.

Coupled with the inconvenience of movement and social difficulties, the blind people have a higher demand for spiritual entertainment. As an IT entrepreneur, Yang Jun would be approached by familiar visually impaired friends from time to time in his early years, and many of them were acquired blindness. , longing to feel the same life as before:

Can you make us a game to play, I'm willing to spend money.

It is rare to be caught by a player asking for money. For an entrepreneur, the request of a visually impaired friend is not easy, and it can even be said that the business risk is extremely high. According to Yang Jun’s words:

First of all, the game we made, whether blind players can play normally is a problem.

Second, we are not sure that the game we make will be liked by blind players. It is actually a very challenging thing to make a game that people like.

Third, although some users have expressed their willingness to pay, we do not know whether these players can support the continuous operation of a team.

When Yang Jun received the demand, there was almost no game on the market for reference design. As an entrepreneur who had never made a game, he had absolutely no idea how to design a game without a screen. Shelving was almost an inevitable choice. .

Until the wave of smartphones broke out, around 2016, Yang Jun felt that the conditions were ripe. Compared with computers and mobile phones, it was more convenient to operate and easier to use. Some blind people on the market had already used smartphones.

Another transformation. Yang Jun and his team shifted from mobile phone development to game development, trying to complete an "adventure" with almost no precedent.

With the market demand, the next step is to set up a new team to start work, and new problems also follow: it is difficult to recruit people, especially developers.

"Tell me today that you can come, but it may not come in two days," Yang Jun said. "Many people think that it is impossible to make games without graphics, and they don't know how to do it."

For a programmer, the career Yang Jun and his team are committed to is very new, but it also means that the reusability in other industries is low, which is not conducive to changing jobs later. Not everyone is willing to spend time participating in such adventures. It's not just about pay.

In this way, Yang Jun and the Mind Interaction team, starting from "try it out", continue to recruit people, solve one problem after another, and launch a sound experience-based game "Ting You Jianghu", through paid props and other methods Profit, drive game and team development.

▲Game screenshot, "Ting You Jianghu" has created a Chinese-style Jianghu world through a variety of voices and stories

During this process, the mind interaction team has gradually expanded, and now there are more than 30 members. At the same time, a group of loyal visually impaired players have gathered around Yang Jun and the team. They experience various stories, make friends, Even find a lover and enter a marriage.

"Tingyou Jianghu" is a game and a "community" of blind people.

Do a good job of the game and stand with the players

When I experienced "Ting You Jianghu", I found that the audio content in it is of high quality, and even created a "sense of space".

Yang Jun told me that this is because "Ting You Jianghu" uses two-channel technology. Simply put, it simulates a sound environment close to the real world by adjusting the sound level and pitch of the left and right earphones, such as footsteps from left to right. Gradually increase, as if someone walked past you.

Ting You Jianghu" will guide players to wear the left and right earphones correctly through voice to ensure a two-channel audio experience

The benefits of binaural technology have a low threshold and are supported by mainstream headphones. Players don’t need to spend a lot of money. This provides a foundation for Yang Jun and his team to build the game world of “Tingyou Jianghu”, which is also consistent with the real situation of visually impaired players. match.

There are huge differences in models between players, there are Android and iPhone, there are many models, and the types of mobile phone systems are also different, and there are even mobile phones that adapt to the Android 5.0 system.

Yang Jun said to me, "Complex models have greatly increased our adaptation costs. Every time the Android phone factory updates the system, we have to adapt it once, and the adaptation work takes up most of our working time." .

The iPhone started earlier and is more complete in terms of accessibility, and the corresponding accessibility features are updated almost every year. For example, during this year 's Global Accessibility Promotion Day, Apple launched the iPhone automatic door recognition function, real-time subtitle function, etc. Users who are handicapped or hard of hearing can use their phones better.

iPhone uses the narration function to read the screen to browse the products

Visually impaired people have to rely on the iPhone's built-in screen-reading software "Voice" to read out the content on the screen step by step. The female voice in "Ting You Jianghu" instructing players to operate is actually the voice of the narration function.

Directly invoking accessibility features such as iPhone narration has greatly reduced the workload of Yang Jun and the team. In terms of Android, due to the large differences between mobile phone brands, the team finally chose to make a self-made screen reading software and built it into the game installation package.

Two-channel technology and more comprehensive model adaptation are all reducing the threshold for visually impaired players.

Since "Tingyou Jianghu" is a completely sound-based game, it cannot set up rich menus like ordinary mobile games, but needs to rely on the player's memory.

When we ordinary people operate mobile phones, the eyes actually obtain information, and then the brain quickly recognizes and transmits it to the hands. This process is almost real-time, so the relevant memory also disappears quickly, and relying on hearing to use mobile phones, you have to rely on memory.

According to this, we have adjusted the menu of the whole game. After entering the game, players will have a fixed guide. They can be connected to various functions through sliding operations. They have a clear relationship and can be easily remembered. live.

Long-term listening to the feedback of visually impaired players allows Yang Jun and his team to discover many small and difficult-to-find player characteristics, thereby establishing original game designs.

Similarly, there are more speech speed options, the three interactive yellow dots in "Listen to the Rivers and Lakes". The former is because visually impaired players lack vision and are more sensitive to sound, and can understand speech at an extremely fast speed under long-term training.

▲ Although there is no screen in the game "Tingyou Jianghu", sliding the screen will still form interactive photoelectricity to guide players

"We have optimized the maximum speech speed of the iFLYTEK voice engine, and further improved the screen reading speed of the software, giving players a choice," Yang Jun said to me.

From the construction of game stories, operation methods, original ideas, to mobile phone adaptation, Yang Jun and his team stand with visually impaired players to understand their real use and life situations, which lays the foundation for the success of "Talk to the Rivers and Lakes" foundation.

a sustainable business

During the interview, the words that Yang Jun mentioned the most were "player" and "user". The words are different, but the meaning is the same – the players of "Listen to the Jianghu".

Players bring too much "creativity" to this game. For example, "Tingyou Jianghu" once launched a paid social item – a voice changer, which allows players to communicate with other players or friends in different voices in the game. It's like a "game skin" over the sound.

Such an ingenious design was quickly welcomed by players. "The voice-changing gameplay is a suggestion given to us by players." When I applauded the creative design, Yang Jun quickly gave the source of the idea.

Of course, players weren't all positive.

As mentioned above, players need to memorize the menu operations of the game "Tingyou Jianghu", but memory is not always reliable. It is not uncommon to forget and remember incorrectly. Some players have come to Yang Jun's team because of incorrect equipment data. , insisted that the game had a bug.

This requires the cooperation of the development team and the customer service team to help players, and it is necessary to clarify what the player's operation data is, and communicate with the player over and over again to confirm and solve the problem.

Ordinary game manufacturers distribute through channels, and channels may provide customer service directly, but it is not necessarily suitable for us.

First of all, starting from the point of origin of the problem, if the customer service is a person who has no experience in barrier-free operation, he may not be able to reach a consensus with the player, and he does not know what the player is talking about.

The second is from the perspective of answering questions. Most of the customer service guides will point where to guide the player to complete the operation, but the visually impaired players cannot understand these contents.

At present, the customer service team of "Tingyou Jianghu" basically comes from within Mind Interaction, including some visually impaired staff. At the same time, Yang Jun's team also establishes contact with the player's guild and community in the game to ensure the timeliness and continuity of communication to the greatest extent. sex.

▲ Yang Jun and colleagues

The meticulous service has brought direct returns. "The proportion of paying players in our games is higher than that of ordinary games." Yang Jun told me that the current operation of "Tingyou Jianghu" is continuously profitable, and there is a little more than enough to promote the development of the team and the game. Innovation.

This is a typical positive cycle business story. Dare to take risks and make Mental Interaction a pioneer in the field of "audio-based design games". The long-term concern for accessibility and the empathy of internal visually impaired employees have made them recognized by players. , and ultimately continue to be profitable.

There are not no other games customized for visually impaired people on the market. For example, Tencent launched the public welfare games "Shadow of the Sky" and "See" in 2019, but these two games can no longer be searched on the application treasure.

▲ Screenshot of "Shadow in the Sky"

The nature of the game is different, and the result is different. It is undoubtedly a good thing to let more people pay attention to the lives of visually impaired people from the perspective of public welfare. From the perspective of commercial profit, from the beginning, it provides good enough services for visually impaired players. , can go further and go on sustainably.

outside of business

You may have accidentally swiped such a video on Douyin. A blind woman is telling about their daily life, introducing how blind people watch dramas and take online classes.

This lady is a new media operator of Mind Interaction, and has uploaded hundreds of videos on the "Mind Interaction" Douyin account.

The original intention of doing Douyin is actually related to the demands of users. Last year, we went to Hefei to hold an e-sports event. A father came for two days in a row. The next day, he brought his 13-year-old child. There is a premature onset of visual impairment. characteristics, which means that the child will soon adapt to the invisible life.

When his father saw that we were holding an event, he approached us and asked if blind people could use mobile phones, and if he could teach my children how to use them.

According to a report released by the China Association of the Blind in 2019, the number of visually impaired people in my country has reached 17.31 million. Yang Jun said that some of them have good technological literacy and have been able to use smartphones such as iPhones proficiently very early.

But there are still a large number of blind people who rely on family members or friends to live a normal life, and their narrow social network means it is difficult for them to learn to use electronic products such as mobile phones.

Yang Jun's team and "Tingyou Jianghu" as an intermediary role have built a bridge, and the game is a new type of community, allowing blind players to directly communicate with each other and learn to use mobile phones.

For users who don't want to play games or think that the game operation is too complicated, Yang Jun's team also launched a special social application "Love Joke Community", allowing people to communicate directly through the voice room.

Doing Douyin We-Media is to inform the public about the daily life of blind people and how to use various electronic products to improve their quality of life, so that more people can change their minds, and indirectly, blind people have the opportunity to learn how to use them from their family and friends. Technology Products.

▲ Visually impaired players e-sports competition

The e-sports event mentioned above comes from another appeal of blind players-to make a living:

Most people's impression of blind people is masseuse, but now the industry is becoming saturated, and young people are not necessarily willing to do this. Some players come to us and say that the game is very good, and that they have skills. Can they find employment with this?

In addition, in the application of "Love Joke Community", blind people can also work as anchors and obtain benefits through benign rewards. Yang Jun told me that there are already more than 100 blind people who have obtained income through anchor work to maintain their daily lives.

▲ Screenshots of the blind anchor and the application of "Love Joke Community"

Strictly speaking, doing Douyin self-media, e-sports events, community apps, etc. cannot directly bring commercial benefits. As a serial entrepreneur, Yang Jun decided to follow the demands of users.

More than 4 years ago, Yang Jun decided to accept the needs of blind users to start playing games. Today, he has gradually moved beyond business to do community, e-sports, and even self-media. Listening to users has enabled him to have a career full of happiness and fulfillment. , and also let him really go among the blind people.

Next, Yang Jun plans to update the audio content of "Ting You Jianghu", try to build a more "spatial" audio experience around Apple's spatial audio technology; make more attempts and expansions in the blind community , such as connecting more blind people during the epidemic; like many domestic manufacturers, try to build overseas game products from an international perspective.

This serial entrepreneur has never stopped moving forward.

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