Pokémon Go creator joins Punchdrunk theatre for interactive venture | Games – Blog – 10 minute

Immersive theatre company Punchdrunk, best known for its Macbeth production Sleep No More, and augmented-reality game developer Niantic, creator of augmented-reality smartphone games Pokémon Go and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, are teaming up to create “interactive experiences”, the companies announced today.
They are not working on extensions to existing games and productions – so don’t expect an interactive stage production of Pokémon Go, or a new video game adaptation of The Drowned Man. Instead the companies will be working on new projects, with aims to “reinvent storytelling for a 21st-century audience and further expand the horizon of interactive entertainment”.
“Those that have seen Sleep No More often liken the experience to how it might feel to walk into a video game,” says Punchdrunk’s founder and artistic director Felix Barrett, who has previously opined that “playable shows” are the future of theatre.
“Pokemon Go is really unique in that it’s the first mainstream game that takes place outside your home and in your neighbourhood. It puts a magical veneer across the streets we live in, and that’s amazing. It’s what we are striving for.”

Pokémon Go fans en masse in Chicago. Photograph: Lucy Hewett/The Guardian
Neither company has yet explained what the first product of this partnership will actually be – whether an in-home game experience, a theatre production enhanced by Niantic’s gaming and augmented-reality technology, or a one-off outdoor event along the lines of Niantic’s Pokémon Go Fests. Niantic’s CEO John Hanke describes the new projects as “entirely new experiences that merge the physical and digital worlds in a way that hasn’t before been attempted”.
Punchdrunk launched Sleep No More in Shanghai in 2017, but has been relatively quiet on new projects since its 2013-14 production of The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable in London. The company has also collaborated with HBO and Sky on The Third Day, an immersive TV show that will air this autumn.
Niantic, whose games specialise in overlaying video game worlds over the real world and getting players out to explore their neighbourhoods, launched the phenomenally popular Pokémon Go in 2016, and a Harry Potter cinematic tie-in called Wizards Unite last year.

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7 Interactive Mental Health Apps To Keep You ‘Positive’ During These Times- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

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You must be actively washing your hands with soap, using sanitizer, wearing a mask, and keeping away from everyone to help yourself and others. While you are focusing so diligently on your physical well being, don’t forget to look after your mental and emotional well being as well. 
The pandemic spread is causing fear, anxiety, and stress among people. Some people realise it while others are being affected unknowingly. It is a difficult time for our mind as well since it has to do things differently. Limiting social interactions, being at home all day, staying away from home for some, having so much time free are some major changes your mind has to adapt to. 
Chart yourself a mental well being plan so you get through this lockdown less stressfully.
Here are 7 interactive mental health apps to let you stay positive emotionally : 
Calm
Some of us may be sleeping too little or too much with our routines disrupted due to the pandemic. The Calm app will help you get quality sleep, meditate and relax so you are able to cope with stress. The app has a bunch of sleep stories, breathing courses, guided meditation, music, and exercises. 
Wysa
While this app has a bot attending to you, it is definitely a great one to keep you on track emotionally. An AI chatbot converses with you and helps you track your mood, rearrange your thoughts ( as a part of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) and be optimistic. The programmed chats in the bot are very simple, friendly and pleasant. The app also provides recommended meditations and audios based on the user’s chat. 
Headspace
Similar to Calm, Headspace also has a lot of options for guided meditations. They aren’t focused as much on sleep but they provide tips on how to be mindful when managing stress. With stress in control, a person will automatically sleep better. 
Happify
Just like its name, Happify is an energetic app that lets you play games but the right kind. These aren’t just games since they carry a lot of meaning. Through gaming, you can address and cope with the problem you are facing such as anxiety, low confidence, parenting, etc. There are different tracks for each problem. 
Talkspace
If you are genuinely getting bogged down and affected by the ongoing situation or even something else, you must use this app. Prioritise your mental well being along with your physical well being. Talkspace connects you to a licensed therapist for a certain amount. The conversation happens on video chat, messages or calls through the day. 
BioBase
This app is backed by AI and is available on iOS for stress management. It tracks the user’s stress by assessing body stress, testing brain functions and tracking mood. The app will view the user’s stress over weeks and give results for the user to learn how to manage stress. 
Stigma
As most therapists suggest journaling when you feel uneasy, this app provides you with a tool to do that. It is an easy way to journal your feelings on the app and then the app recognizes words and writing style to you. This lets you track your thoughts and feelings more clearly. Moreover, the app also tracks your mood and gives you a calendar or graph to see progress. 
Talking helps, even digitally
Psychology has always prompted us to be better listeners and hence psychologists spend a lot of time just listening. If you are feeling overwhelmed during this pandemic, know that it is alright. Use any of the apps above or websites that are letting you talk about how you feel. Talking about it is the first step in feeling better. 

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Tempemail Council Against Drug Abuse uses interactive film to educate Singaporeans on rising drug abuse- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Singapore’s Tempemail Council Against Drug Abuse (NCADA) has created an interactive short film to spark conversations and spread awareness of the destructive reality of drug abuse among the public, particularly the youth.
Local director Royston Tan directed the short film, titled High, which is part of a campaign created by Dentsu Aegis Network. It allows viewers to make choices on behalf of the protagonist to uncover the various endings and possibilities within the storyline and underscores the importance of making informed decisions.
This campaign aims to explore the challenges and choices relating to drug abuse that youth may encounter, in recognition of the evolving global drug use growth.
The film is hosted on its own microsite and features a variety of opportunities to converse and engage the youth to kickstart conversations with young people on drug issues.
After watching and experiencing the highs and lows of drug abuse through the film’s characters, youth can uncover for themselves the highs and lows of different drugs through the microsite’s chat-format FAQ session.
The microsite also enables viewers to share their film ending on their social media platforms and encourage their friends to do the same to spark conversation among youth on the truths behind drug abuse.
Other activities on the site include taking part in a character quiz and sharing their results with their friends online. Young people can also reach out and speak to NCADA for advice, or share their personal stories at HIGH’s Instagram page, @highsg.
“Youth today are constantly faced with pro-drug narratives which are shaping their attitudes, to be more liberal, towards drugs. They are also exposed to all kinds of misinformation on effects and benefits of certain drugs,” said Hawazi Daipi, the chairman of NCADA.
“In this climate, we felt the need to engage with the youth in a deeper and more meaningful manner, to first understand how they form their opinions and attitudes towards drugs, and secondly to have open conversations with them on the realities and harms of drug abuse. With this campaign, we hope to engender greater cognizance of the larger context of pro-drug narratives and the importance of building empathy and anti-drug advocacy among our youth.”
High was screened at ITE College Central, ITE College East, and Singapore Polytechnic earlier in January, reaching a total of 5,162 students. Each film screening was followed by a Safe Zone Discussion (SZD), an interactive and thought-provoking platform for students to share their thoughts on the film, on drug abuse and drug advocacy.
At the Singapore Polytechnic session, a panel of experts from the Tempemail Addictions Management Service (NAMS) was invited to be part of the SZD and shared their experiences with the students.
The NAMS panel which consisted of Thomas Koh, a Peer Support Specialist, who helps and accompanies former abusers on their recovery journey, Dr Sandor Heng, a Senior Clinical Psychologist, and Dr Guo Song, a Senior Consultant addressed questions from the students on the medical and social aspects of drug abuse.

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As Accenture Interactive pivots to more purposeful work, Brian Whipple names his first CXO- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Accenture Interactive is planning to gradually pivot its business to work predominantly with clients aligned to a wider social purpose. To do so, global chief excutive Brian Whipple has hired the group’s first chief experience officer in Olof Schybergson.
Schybergson is the co-founder and chief executive of Fjord, the design consultancy acquired by Accenture in 2013. Remaining as chief of the studio, he will now also be charged with leading an “experience reimagination program” for Accenture Interactive globally, as the first person to take the chief experience officer job.
Schybergson will take the lead in championing the idea of experience within the corporate, civic and governmental sectors, working with leaders across Accenture Interactive’s growing portfolio to conceive and deliver “reimaginations we are yet to envision”.
Examples of possible projects include reimagining the hospital waiting room, and ensuring cities are set up for mobility – pointing to Accenture Interactive’s bid to break out of the c-suite and into the wider breaches of public life.
“Olof and I – and really the rest of Interactive – are taking charge in trying to identify eight to 10 human experiences that we can invest in with our clients that will really help people’s8 lives become more efficient or more meaningful,” explained Whipple. “We’re taking this to heart inside the mission and the very fabric of what we do with clients day-to-day.”
“It’s good business right now to have things that are aligned with purpose … and in particular, the world of creativity – including Accenture Interactive – has done an inadequate job of that. So, we really need to get going on that in the future.”
‘Fewer, larger transformative projects’
Whipple is one of the growing group of executives that believes taking on purposeful work is equal to taking on long-term profitable work, be it in marketing, consultancy, design or any other capability in the company’s stable.
The primary reasoning behind this belief is the ongoing transfer of “trillions of dollars in assets and wealth” between the boomers and their younger counterparts – future leaders who care more about the environment, sustainability and purpose at large who will actively reject partners that don’t.
“I have a fantastic global team of people that are aligned specifically on this vision of helping clients at the intersection of purpose and innovation,” said Whipple.
“I spend a lot of time with [those people] and clients on that exact topic, and we are tending to shift our time and focus more and more to the clients that want to get into fewer, larger transformative projects around purpose and innovation.”
Small projects for bigger ideas
This doesn’t necessarily mean Accenture Interactive will immediately stop working with clients who may not prioritize purpose the way Whipple and Schybergson do; the chief executive believes any move in that direction will take place in the naturally in the long run.
Nor does it mean it will stop taking on the smaller, less commercial projects that may be purposeful but lack a commercial punch. In fact, Whipple explained, this kind of work will be vital to Accenture Interactive’s future.
“We might get into a new market and [need to] prove a particular technology’s contribution to reinventing experience,” he explained, “and to do that we’re going to invest in some smaller projects to prove to the client ecosystem in that space that technology can effectively train people.
“So, we are going to continue to do smaller creative projects – absolutely. But we’re going to do them according to a strategy of how we get our clients to larger, more purposeful innovation projects over the long term.”
While advertising may seem powerless, ineffective or trite in the context of hospital waiting rooms, Whipple is adamant the likes of Droga5 and Karmarama are still “dead center” to his grand vision.
Advertising the results of a purposeful transformation is just as important as implementing the transformation itself, he believes, “because at the end of the day, you can have the greatest creative idea and the greatest technology, the greatest experience that’s been reinvented, but that experience needs to be communicated to people.”
“They need to be told about it,” he said. “That story needs to unfold. They have to understand why that experience helps make their lives better.”
Growth in the time of Covid-19
Whipple is always asked a question along the lines of “what company are you going to buy next?” He rarely bites and isn’t biting now – although does say note that more inorganic growth is coming in the next 12-18 months.
That was last Thursday (12 March), however – the day President Trump officially closed the US border to 26 European countries. Since then, the coronavirus pandemic has set the majority of businesses off track and thrown any investment plans on to icy ground, if not completely on ice.
Still, Whipple reckoned there may even be a glimmer a purposeful transformation amid the bleak backdrop of Covid-19.
“Look at what’s happening now around the world, with greater emphasis on remote workforces,” he said. “That will undoubtedly impact the marketing area. And we will be a great partner for our clients in helping them figure that out as well.”

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Netflix has a new interactive movie based on its Carmen Sandiego series – Blog – 10 minute

My two cents: If you are old enough, you might remember an educational video game from your childhood called “Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?” Depending on your geography skills, it could be either fun or frustrating, but even when it was frustrating it was somewhat fun. Yeah? This isn’t it.
Netflix dropped a trailer for its latest interactive adventure Carmen Sandiego: To Steal or Not To Steal. It first announced the show in a tweet on February 10.
The special is a “choose your own adventure,” although it cannot call it that as we saw with Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. Like its previous interactive movie, viewers will help shape the story by making choices at key points in the show. Of course, the animated special is geared toward a younger audience than its Black Mirror special.

If you remember playing the 1985 video game Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego, and are hoping for a bit of nostalgia, you can forget it. It’s based on the Netflix Carmen Sandiego animated series, not the game. So the show will not test your geography skills. It only has you helping Carmen make decisions like whether to find a lab or catch a plane.
Netflix’s reimagining of Carmen Sandiego has turned her from a villain into a hero. Instead of fleeing from the police (and you) like she did in the game, she is pitted against her former criminal organization V.I.L.E. (Villains International League of Evil). Her mission is to find and rescue two kids named Zack and Ivy.
It this one is not for you, give it some time. The streaming giant has more unannounced interactive stories in store. The show debuts on Netflix on March 10.

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Accenture Interactive global CEO Brian Whipple to guest edit Tempemail tech for good issue- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Accenture Interactive group chief executive Brian Whipple is to guest edit the April edition of Tempemail magazine to explore how brands can use tech to make a difference.
Whipple, who is the boss of the agency network that owns the likes of Rothco, The Monkeys, Droga5 and Karmarama and more, will guide Tempemail editorial team on features and interviews with individuals and companies he thinks drives positive change.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to shine a light on something I feel passionately about – the need for purpose-fueled innovation to make lives better, more productive and more meaningful,” explained Whipple of his theme for the magazine.
“I’m frustrated by how much time, effort and capital investment is being channelled into so-called ‘innovations’ that do little to advance or improve society. We, as an industry, have the creativity and technology chops to inspire and improve our world. We are poised at a precipice and it’s up to us to seize the moment by rallying together to innovate with more purpose.”
Stephen Lepitak, editor of Tempemail, added: “I’m pleased Brian has agreed to steer an issue of our monthly magazine as he is someone with a strong belief, as we do, that marketing can change the world and I cannot wait to see what we produce as a result of working with him and the team at Accenture Interactive.”
The issue of the magazine will also be distributed at Austin during SXSW where Tempemail will once again be hosting a number of events at its pop-up pub Tempemail Arms.
More detail on Tempemail’s plans for SXSW can be round on the online calendar while the magazine will be available for purchase next month, while annual subscriptions can be taken now.
Hear Brian Whipple offer his views on his leadership style as part of our Leadership Lessons podcast.

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Digital games and interactive media pulled in a record $120.1 billion in 2019 – Blog – 10 minute

Year in Revew: Another year has passed us by, and with it comes the usual array of end-of-year market research reports. One such report we always look forward to is SuperData’s Digital Games and Interactive Media “Year In Review” analysis, and its 2019 iteration has just hit the web.
We’ll start things off with some overall revenue numbers. Mobile games generated $64.4 billion in 2019, and PC games pulled in $29.6 billion. Consoled trailed behind with $15.4 billion in earnings, and other forms of interactive media, such as streaming (the likes of Twitch and Mixer, not Netflix) platforms, boasted a respectable $6.5 billion. Virtual, mixed, and augmented reality revenue was roughly the same at $6.3 billion.
All in all, that adds up to a “Record” $120.1 billion for the year of 2019, which is about $5 billion higher than 2018’s end-of-year total, which sat at roughly $115 billion. Most of the categories mentioned above have grown since 2018, thus contributing to the new total, but digital PC game revenue, in particular, has fallen from $35.7 billion.
It’s not entirely clear why that happened (that’s a $6 billion difference, which isn’t chump change). The lack of “mega hits” throughout the year could have contributed somewhat — 2018 saw the launch of numerous blockbuster hits, including Red Dead Redemption 2 and Monster Hunter: World, whereas 2019’s offerings were decidedly less exciting to the mainstream (for the most part).

Free-to-play games continued to dominate the gaming landscape in 2019, of course — the $64.4 billion number mentioned before for mobile game revenue came almost entirely from free-to-play title earnings. Free-to-play PC game revenue represented $21.1 billion of the $29.6 billion total listed above.
Free-to-play console games were much less popular, drawing in a mere $1.6 billion in 2019. That number fell from $2.1 billion in 2018, and SuperData expects it to drop even further to $1 billion this year. Some of the top free-to-play titles out there are Fortnite, with $1.8 billion in 2019 global revenue, Dungeon Fighter online with $1.6 billion in earnings, and even Pokemon Go, which earned developer Niantic a respectable $1.4 billion.
Premium game revenue as a whole dropped in 2019, but again, that’s to be expected given the lack of massive, mainstream releases last year.

The VR market grew ever so slightly in 2019 — 5.7 million headsets were shipped across PC, console, and mobile devices, compared to 2018’s 5.6 shipments. It wasn’t linear growth across the board, though. PC VR headset shipments actually dropped by eight percent, and mobile headsets fell by a shocking 54 percent.
Standalone VR headsets drove most of the 2019 growth at 2.8 million shipments (up from 1.2 million in 2018). If it weren’t for that growth, the VR market as a whole would have taken a serious hit.

SuperData expects digital games and interactive media revenue to grow to $124.8 billion in 2020. The organization says this growth will be achieved on the back of major releases like Cyberpunk 2077 and The Last of Us Part II (releasing in Q1 2020), as well as the launch of Microsoft and Sony’s next-gen consoles; the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.
With that final prediction out of the way, that’s about all we have for now. If you have any thoughts on the statistics we’ve discussed today, feel free to leave them in the comments. Otherwise, we recommend reading SuperData’s full report for yourself. It’s available for free right here, though you’ll need a valid email address to snag it.
Masthead credit: Shutterstock

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India’s Vedantu raises $42M to expand its live and interactive online tutoring platform – gpgmail


Vedantu, a Bangalore-based startup that operates an online tutoring service, today announced it has raised $42 million as it races to expand its reach in the nation where tens of millions of students enter formal education and prepare for under-graduate level competitive exams each year.

The Series C financing round for the five-year old startup was led by Tiger Global and WestBridge Capital, with existing investors Accel, Omidyar India and TAL Education and Vedantu co-founders also participating in it. Vedantu has raised $58 million to date.

Vedantu offers a mix of recorded and live and interactive courses. Students who have enrolled for the interactive sessions are required to answer questions every few minutes by tapping on their smartphone screen. They can also raise their doubts at the end of the session.

Vedantu, which serves students aged between 12 to 18 (serving students in grade 6 to 12), offers a large catalog of recorded sessions at no charge to users. It generates revenue from selling subscription to live and interactive sessions, Vamsi Krishna, co-founder and CEO of the startup, told gpgmail in an interview.

vlcsnap 2019 08 29 16h15m14s925

These subscriptions can vary from Rs 100 ($1.4), for students looking for sessions around a particular topic, to Rs 50,000 ($700) for long-term courses that focus on training students for under-graduate level courses, Krishna explained.

More than 1.5 million students watch educational videos on Vedantu each month, of which 30,000 are paying subscribers. The platform has amassed users from more than 30 nations, mostly those of Indian diaspora.

As part of the offering, Vedantu also tracks how much time a student takes in answering questions to determine the topics that they might be struggling to grasp. It then challenges those students to solve more problems from that topic and alerts the teachers and their assistants who follow up, Krishna said.

Before starting Vedantu, Krishna, who is a teacher himself, ran Lakshya Institute that helped students prepare for under-graduate level courses until early 2014, before selling majority stake to Mumbai-based K-12 tutoring and test preparation firm MT Educare.

He said he will use the fresh capital to broaden the startup’s engineering team and product offerings, and find more users. Because Vedantu does not rely on previously recorded footage, scaling it prove challenging.

But the startup is not looking to aggressively expand its courses and its current live format has provided it with room to allocate more students in a session, Krishna said.

From Right to Left Vamsi Krishna CEO Co founder Anand Prakash Co founder Pulkit Jain Co Founder and Head Product

From left to right: Vamsi Krishna, CEO and co-founder, Anand Prakash, co-founder, with Pulkit Jain, co-founder and head of product.

Vedantu competes with a number of local players including unicorn Byju’s, which is widely believed to be the largest edtech startup in the world with its valuation nearing $6 billion. Byju’s, which has more than 2.4 million paid subscribers (and over 30 million users), offers courses for students in kindergarten to year 12, in addition to those preparing for competitive under graduation level courses.

Unacademy, another edtech startup in India, focuses on the same space and recently raised a $50 million round.

India has the largest population in the world in the age bracket of 5 to 24 years. The education space in the nation is estimated to grow to $35 billion in the next six years.

More to follow…


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Through crowdsourcing, Cerberus Interactive wants to take location based gaming to the masses – gpgmail


Sami Khan began his work in the startup world by marketing mobile-based investment services like Acorns.

Now the marketer who helped grow that business to a nearly $1 billion valuation is turning his attention to location based gaming in the hopes that he can take on leading contender, Niantic, with a faster, more flexible, and fan driven approach to game development with his new startup, Cerberus Interactive.

Khan’s pitch is that he’s taking the skills he’d honed building up services like Acorns or the browser extension for bargain hunters, Honey, to game development to make games more viral from their inception.

The biggest thing is how do you de-risk what is perceived as a hit driven industry?” Khan asks. “Games are closer to digital apps than back in the days of the console and companies should ship it like an ecommerce concept… If adoption of the game is going to be the decision factor of whether a game fails or succeeds…why isn’t the adoption fo the game tested before the title is built or while the game is being conceived?”

So for his first foray into gaming, Khan is combining a crowd-sourced approach to the development of the game and applying it to what many people think is gaming’s next big frontier —  the location based game phenomenon that hit its stride with Niantic’s Pokemon GO.

Right now in location based games you have the behemoth which is Niantic,” says Khan. “Right now the gaming industry looks at location based games as its own sub genre. But when we look at location based games, we believe that location based games have an aspect that it is a game mechanic within other games.” 

The first game that Cerberus is developing is a base building simulator akin to a title like “Age of Empires” but based on real-world locations. “Simulation games or casual games with location built in will have a bonus or an advantage over the stationary games that we play today,” says Khan.

The “Atlas Empires” title that Cerberus is currently developing is being made in concert with the gamers who might want to play it. So far, an undisclosed number of customers are already paying to have a say in certain aspects of the game’s development — kind of like a premiere tier within a crowdfunding campaign.

Khan, a New Orleans native who splits his time between Los Angeles and Austin, has enlisted some marquee investors in his bid to challenge both the traditional ways in which games have been developed and the current industry leader.

Strategic investor MobilityWare has signed on to back the company along with individual investors like Steve Huffman, the co-founder and chief executive of Reddit, and Blake Chandler, the chief business officer of the runaway social network hit, TikTok.

Khan traces his love of games to his time visiting his cousins in Bangladesh and playing “Prince of Persia” on an early Toshiba laptop. “I remember sitting around the computer, watching my oldest cousin play because my dad didn’t want any of the kids touching the laptop,” Khan says.

So far the beta version of “Atlas Empires” has had 50,000 downloads and has about 1,000 daily players, Khan says. The commercial version of the game is expected to go live in the first quarter of 2020, says Khan.

 


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