Chris Karounos is the co-founder and creative director of Abaca Games, a new startup out of Ann Arbor that is based in his masters research in sustainability, in which he focused on tropical agroforestation. He says he had the opportunity to launch a new video game called 10 Degrees (coming September 3rd) that helps support reforestation through game play when his startup was accepted into the University of Michigan Optimize incubator program.
10 Degrees: A Climate Change Video Game
“Optimize is one of those opportunities you don’t pass up,” Karounos says. “So when I met Jeff Sorenson, the founder of Optimize and he told me that Abaca Games was eligible, I made plans to stay in Ann Arbor for an extra semester which meant being long distance with my wife and our 3 pets. I didn’t think I had a chance of receiving funding at the end of the program because Optimize is so popular that the number of teams involved has been growing exponentially.”
Karounos works with a team of other University of Michigan grads, including artists and composers. The Optimize program has recently attracted a number of student entrepreneurs from all majors.
“This year it started with a record shattering 300 participants,” says Karounos “I figured though that I would learn a lot in 2 semesters of social innovation workshops and be inspired by peers working on similar innovative projects…. Thanks to my teammates and a stroke of luck we ended up winning funding and became summer fellows. We are so excited to release the game called 10 Degrees on September 3rd. The game is free to play but through in game advertisements and purchases the game will raises money for reforestation in Ecuador through Third Millennium Alliance.”
The 10 Degrees game is mobile platform only, and takes you through a narrative in which “only you can save the world.” The hero (you) is an everyday person who goes through a variety of ordinary decisions that help benefit the climate and build to bigger challenges over time. You can pre-register here for the September 3 release and check it out.
Gameplay generates revenue through advertising while the user plays, which is then donated toward tropical reforestation. When a player advances through the game, non-profit Third Millenium Alliance uses the revenue generated to plants trees in tropical rainforests.
According to Karounos, deforestation contributes to more carbon emissions than all the world’s vehicles combined. Check out 10 Degrees by signing up for release notices, and let us know what you think.
The Optimize program at the University of Michigan supports student entrepreneurs in launching impact-focused ventures while studying at the university. For our recent coverage of the program, which has made recent efforts to balance diversity and accessibility to its valuable offerings, check out our profile of the program. We will be featuring more student ventures coming out of the Optimize program in the near future.