Spreading science with games – a new hope or a betrayal?

So it happened. Psyon Games visited the Finnish Shark Tank. Long story short, the VC Sharks refused to invest due to 3 main reasons:

  1. Some of them never invest in game companies.
  2. They found that it’s too risky to invest in such early phase.
  3. They considered our valuation (2M) too high for a company that doesn’t make revenue yet.

These are all valid points. Games are their own tricky line of business that requires special interest. Also our unorthodox business model does come with an extra risk factor. We won’t deny that. But it’s also obvious we’re not trying to play safe. For us it’s about going big or going down.

The recordings of our Shark Tank visit took place some 9 months ago and as usual in start-up life, a lot has changed since then. Our first production Antidote was launched in November 2017 and we now have on-going negotiations with several powerful business partners who both benefit from Antidote’s informational content and have the capacity to take the marketing of the game to a whole new level. But for the moment, let us return to what happened in the tank.

Do you dare to form an informed opinion?

Sharks are smart animals. During our very brief visit to the tank, they raised two fundamentally important questions about our business. Right after discussing the status of our product development, the serial entrepreneur Miika Toivonen dived to the deep end of the conversation and questioned the intellectual and moral foundations of Psyon Games’ mission to tackle misinformation.

What he basically asked was how can or dare we so boldly claim that we are right and someone else is wrong.

The answer is credible scientific evidence. Instead of arrogantly claiming that some arbitrary opinion about a subject is right, we simply say that professionals have been studying this matter for years and we choose to endorse the direction their findings point to.

Thus a more relevant question than “Who can say what’s true?” is “How can humans find out what’s true?” and the answer is “Through science”. Science is a systematic way of carefully and thoroughly observing nature and using consistent logic to evaluate results. As a system of thought science is not partisan or biased. It simply embraces that which can be tested to work.

Anyone can be scientific in their thinking by testing their ideas and opinions against existing evidence and changing their views with new information. So the literal answer to Mr. Toivonen’s question “Who can say what’s true?” becomes “By adopting scientific thinking, anyone can get closer to the truth”. The widespread realization of this fact is the goal of our company.

Beyond light and dark

The second important question was raised by business angel Riku Asikainen who justified his decision not to invest by claiming that our business model is a disservice the transparency of the traditional game industry. He even went so far that he compared us to Darth Vader – who was blinded by his personal lust and conducted one of the most gruesome betrayals in movie history.

But seriously speaking, we understand what Mr. Asikainen meant. By making deals with large pharmaceutical corporations who benefit from our production, we risk receiving the reputation of a shill. But are we going to let ourselves be distracted by this petty finger pointing?

Let us zoom out and take a look at the big picture to understand what really matters. We are witnessing a widespread negative attitude towards vaccines. Though not completely unfounded, this attitude is largely driven by emotional propaganda and misinformation. This is alarming because a decline in vaccination rates poses a huge public health risk.

We at Psyon Games recognize the ethical dilemmas of the pharma business but we are equally concerned how easily people forget the countless lives modern medicine has saved. Blurring the discussion about pharmaceutical industry with false claims doesn’t benefit anyone but those who try to sell you fake health products. No. Instead the solution calls for science literacy.

Science literacy gives people the ability to understand how vaccines and other medicine work. Spreading medicine related science literacy with games can add to the transparency of pharmaceutical industry in an unprecedented way. Are we really doing a disservice for anyone if we generously share a slice of game industry transparency to the pharmaceutical industry? We don’t think so.

The world is not black and white so let us grow up and see it in full color – with the help of science.