Rafael Lontra of Mito Games tells us about learning with fun.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Rafael Lontra: We are doing what we can. My company is in the home office for the past months and probably the next. My wife works in the State’s department of health, so she is still working there, but they try to take all precautions. She is also a teacher, and health classes are still presential… She’s already vaccinated, but I am not, neither my daughter. Our moms and daddies are also getting the vaccine, so hopefully, we will all be safe soon. I hope I can get mine as a teacher when they open for us since I am also a teacher for the Government employees’ capacitation “school.”
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Mito Games.
Rafael Lontra: I helped found Mito Games. We had a previous company with most of the people called Blue Pixel, but the major associate had to quit, so we decided to Create Mito Games. I graduated in mechanics (technician), then Music teacher, and last Digital Games and also a specialization in Digital Games. When I graduated as a music teacher and started to teach in public schools, I felt really bad because there was very little structure, and I already had the knowledge that games are a very powerful teaching tool. So I decided to start new graduation, and while still in the first semester, I was already working with Games at Blue Pixel. There I had the opportunity to fulfill a bit of my teaching desires through Enem Game; a project brought to me while I was at Blue Pixel by my actual associate at Mito Games today, Marcelo Herzog. Enem game is an educational game for helping adolescent kids study for the national exam here in Brazil that qualifies them for Universities. So we had over a million players up to today, which made me feel really good about changing my teaching methods. Of course, we don’t do only educational projects on Mito Games or before at Blue Pixel. I am evenly motivated to any kind of projects, educational, gamification of processes, games for entertainment… But I felt I had to do something for education and working with games. We very often have the opportunity to create awesome projects like Enem Game or “O Mundo de Augusto,” which I will speak more about later.
How does Mito Games innovate?
Rafael Lontra: We try to use gamification in partnership with companies to create products for them.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Rafael Lontra: Many companies that are our clients are having to reinvent themselves, and games and gamification are a powerful tool for that. Also, the way we work was not very affected by the home office, so we have the same productivity with less costs, and more clients are reaching us for solutions. So things are going well regarding business… too bad not for healthcare yet.
Also, the pandemic created several opportunities for innovative Covid related solutions, so we won a few grants for Covid educative games for children. This is an AMAZING project that we want to internationalize soon. It’s a totally free game for kids to have fun and relate more to good health practices. We are in partnership with all the schools from our State now, and hopefully, this will yield great results. We do hope that those kids will even influence their parents to have better behavior. The Game is called “O Mundo de Augusto” and is already available on Google Play and Apple Store, but since we won a second grant for this project from FINEP, the NATIONAL research institute, soon we will be releasing new levels, new animations, a totally new AR side campaign, and new languages! It’s already ported to English, but to publish in each country is a major headache, so now we are keeping it only in Brazil to get more feedback, and then we will work on the English worldwide version!
Sorry for the Portuguese, but this is a small release video for Instagram showing a bit of the Game.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Rafael Lontra: We had to decide to go to the home office regime right after graduating from our incubator and renting a new office for 3 years. Lol, it was a pity, but it had to be done. Also, everyone had to make personal sacrifices in order to protect ourselves and others.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Rafael Lontra: We created a replica of our office on discord, so we can have all workgroups, projects, teams, meetings, anything we had there we can do on discord. Also, we use Asana to help keep track of the sprints and tasks on an Agile model of management. We had to improve our managing, planning, and appointing tasks skills in order to keep productivity, but this was a very good improvement.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the Game?
Rafael Lontra: We believe there’s space for a LOT of game companies. Practically any regular business can be a client for gamification and games, so the more, the better. We think that any other player will help more clients realize the potential of our industry, so we try to cooperate as much as possible. Also, there’s a shortage of people, so the more successful companies, the more people will decide to specialize and work with games. One person can have and play 100 or more games in one year easily. The same thing for a serious game or gamification client, one company can hire several projects, so there’s no point in cannibal competition between gaming industries, especially here in Brazil.
Your final thoughts?
Rafael Lontra: I really hope we, as a gaming industry work our way up to education and help spread good information and science…These last years have proved we are not doing well on that. Regarding the other applications of games and gamification, I am sure we will do great.
But education demands more attention from the public sector, so that’s what I try to battle for when I can nowadays.