Tech giving back

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by TYLER SIESWERDA / KVUE News and photojournalist DEREK RASOR

kvue.com

Posted on January 22, 2013 at 11:26 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 23 at 8:24 AM

AUSTIN -- Imagine a fantasy world of flying sailing ships and swashbuckling animals. A mythical realm of treasure and glory made for the pleasure of the entire family.

There is no need to imagine any longer. Austin online video game creator KingsIsle has done the imagining for you. Pirate 101 is its newest offering, or as insiders call it, property.

"We just launched Pirate 101 in October of 2012 and that's been going great as well. In the first full month of launch it was in the top 10 most trafficked kids properties in the country," said marketing vice-president Fred Howard.

Pirate joins the companies first venture, Wizard 101 which put KingsIsle on the gaming map in 2008. They have more than 35 million registered users and counting.

"Wizard101.com was one of the top 100 most trafficked websites in the country this summer," Howard said.

Wizard 101 and Pirate 101 are online multiplayer games targeted to children but popular with people of all ages. 

In its dark and very quiet North Austin studio, dozens of people sketch and color on computer screens bringing characters to life. 

KingsIsle was formed by two people in 2005. The company now boasts almost 250 employees and is currently adding more. That success is having a ripple effect in a place you might not expect.

"It's a win, win situation," said Austin Children’s Shelter Director of Marketing and PR Julie Burch. “They were a new and upcoming tech company doing online games and they decided they were doing well enough. They wanted to reach out and help the community so they contacted us."

The shelter is set to receive $50,000 from KingsIsle.

The same amount will also go to the Plano Children’s Medical Center in North Texas.

The total charitable giving for KingsIsle is double what it was last year.

A lot of the credit must also go to the gamers. Over the holidays KingsIsle developed a new character for their games, Fa la la la llama. Players who purchased the character helped raise money for the charities.

"With their growth they are able to give back more to the community and they've chosen to help kids because they do online kids games," said Burch.

In fact, KingsIsle is now the title sponsor for the Austin Children’s Shelters fundraising party called “The New Wave Ball” which is an 80’s dance party. 

It’s another way a strong tech economy is making Austin a stronger community.

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