Last week, Kingdom Scene celebrated its 6-year anniversary. For the past six years, Kingdom Scene has been working to build a culturally-relevant and potentially global way to encourage significant conversations between kids and those who care about them the most — parents, grandparents, guardians, mentors, etc. It is our strong belief as a company that transformation takes place in kids’ lives through pivotal experiences and significant conversations.
This has led us to produce and launch Lightgliders, a virtual world game online for kids ages 6 to 12. Since last summer, Lightgliders has been available in “beta”, which means that we are testing it and making strategic changes to it before we begin marketing. In short, our journey to the starting line recently ended and a new one has begun.
Often I get asked what led to the founding of Kingdom Scene. And, specifically, what took us into the games industry. Allow me to give you the short version! To understand the founding of Kingdom Scene and the creation of Lightgliders, you have to know a little about my story.
I was born and raised in St. Louis into a great family (not perfect but great). During my elementary school years, my dad would “put me to bed” each night. Wow, that sounds cheesy, but I’m telling you — those nights changed my life. You see, it was in those moments that we would talk…really talk…about important issues. We discussed faith and the power of the gospel. We read scriptures and prayed together. We talked about character, peer pressure, friendship, and forgiveness. I learned in those conversations that my life had purpose and significance. These conversations eventually brought about transformation in my life. They were like seeds planted in my heart. Some time during college, I began to realize how truly unique my upbringing was. I began to dream of ways to encourage more significant conversations in the home.
After college, I took a job as a youth pastor in St. Louis, where I spent countless hours mentoring and counseling high school students. I was meeting with the “church kids” and was dealing with every destructive teenage decision imaginable. Being 22-years-old at the time, I was unprepared and ill-equipped for this. I still remember thinking to myself, “I wish we could start connecting with kids before their teenage years.” I did a little research and found that over 50% of teenagers in church do not believe life has any meaning and over 90% do not consider the Bible as true or relevant. In fact, fundamental perspectives of morality, integrity, justice, and life’s purpose are firmly in place by the age of 9. One research study even said that we are largely who we are going to be in life from a faith, values, and character standpoint by the age of 13 and that all information we receive after that is used just to solidify what we already think and believe. I began to take more seriously the dream to impact kids before their teenage years.
I started writing a book with my dad about the importance of mentoring in the home. But, books often remain on shelves, so we stopped. After my time as a youth pastor, I worked in Nashville on the management side of the music industry. I remember traveling to sold-out arenas all over the country and began thinking that maybe a well-polished event for parents and their kids would encourage more meaningful moments in the home. But, I wondered how a one-time event would produce ongoing interaction. I wanted to find something that would provide more long-term interest and engagement in the kids themselves.
During graduate school, I had a class that challenged me to write a business plan. I used this as an opportunity to find a solution. I found research studies claiming that kids were spending over seven hours each day digitally-connected in front of a screen. Over 90% were playing games online and over 70% were engaged in at least one virtual world game. At the time, I had no idea what this meant. In short, a virtual world game is an online environment where kids get to create a character, play games, explore, socialize, and customize unique spaces. And, unlike a book or an event, a virtual world does not have an ending. It is constantly updated with new features and content, so it is a new self-directed, open-ended experience every time a kid logs in to play. And, the thing that blew me away was how popular they are globally. The number of virtual world game accounts created by kids is well over a billion in over 190 countries! So, my thought was this — let’s create one that is fun like all the others, but let’s strategically design it to encourage faith, character, service, and significant conversations in the home. The reality is that the average kid spends over seven hours each day digitally-connected and less than 20 minutes of quality time with mom or dad every day. Our idea was to leverage or redeem the digital time to maximize the quality time. This concept led to the founding of Kingdom Scene.
And, over the last six years, we have partnered with talented game design studios, raised capital from angel investors, tested various aspects of design with thousands of kids, and have created and launched the Lightgliders virtual world game and brand. It is still evolving, of course, and we have a long way to go. But, the journey to the starting line ended sixteen years after I first started dreaming about a strategic solution to impact kids in the home.
There are many things that make Lightgliders different than other virtual world games online. I’ll share three right now.
- It was designed to promote teamwork and other-centered behavior. When kids become a Lightglider, they learn right away that their goals are to respect, to rescue, and to restore.
- There is a unique role for parents and mentors, who can choose to receive updates with the daily activities encouraging faith, values, and reflection. These are meant to provide catalysts for meaningful moments and significant conversations.
- Parents can choose to turn on or off the biblical faith and values component of the game, which is called Glidebook. The Lightgliders game was designed to teach positive values implicitly. However, the daily activities in Glidebook make the implicit values of the gameplay explicit. In Glidebook, kids learn the five values of a Lightglider, which are hope, purpose, humility, confidence, and love. Glidebook substantiates these values with scripture and provides a place for prayer. Parents are encouraged to choose the setting that best suits their family.
Whether you ever take a look at Lightgliders or not, please know that you have a unique role in impacting the next generation. The seeds of transformation are planted in kids at a young age one significant conversation at a time.