The Korea IT Times interviewed John Kim, the founder and CEO of Paprika Labs, using the online video interview service Wetoku.com. The entire 15 minute interview is available below, and we have printed excerpts from it as well. Check out the full interview here:
Q: Welcome John, how are you today
A: Hey Matthew, I'm doing pretty okay.
Q: Can you tell me a little bit more about this iPhone game your company has developed
A: Actually, it began somewhere at the end of January. One of my friends who was working at a Japanese company called NeoLab contacted me over Messenger and he said he got this database of a bunch of free quizzes that his company made. And they were going to throw that out. So he actually proposed to me what we could do about it. And I said okay, making an iPhone app would be nice. And we signed an MOU and we started development some time in February. And we launched our game around the end of April, so it took about two months.
Q: Can you describe the game
A: We wanted to differentiate the concept, so what we did was we packaged our game into a theme, where you would go up to some girl and try to seduce her somehow. So we made that concept, and what we basically do is that if we solve a lot of the quizzes and get a lot of the answers right, the character that we are controlling gets to, we call it a brave point. They actually get brave enough to go flirt with a girl. And the girl is going to challenge you with more quizzes, and if you get them all right, she is going to give her love to you. But if you get anything wrong she's gonna slap you right in the face, so you get a game over.
Q: So its more like a real-life simulation rather than a game
A: Yeah, but the whole content is surrounded with quizzes, so there is also gameplay.
Q: Can you speak a little bit about what its like to design an iPhone application I've heard that Apple is very picky about their iPHone applications.
A: Well this was our second game, and we actually got rejected once with our first game, because we were trying to send information from the iPhone to the server for confirmation. We had to change, we had to follow the guidelines that Apple outlined. Its pretty well documented, so if you actually read the documentation pretty well, you can actually develop apps without much problem. So its been pretty fun.
Q: Can you tell me a little bit about your company, Paprika Labs
A: We are a company that is dedicated to providing a very exciting experience for users through web browsers and mobile devices. We develop game software and learning software for both platforms. So what we really want to do is build one game that has multiple ways of accessing content so that you can play the game on your browser and the iPhone, so you can have fun anytime you want. When you look at game players around the world, there isn't really a company that has achieved that and has become mainstream. So we want to be one of the first companies that will produce a game like that. So you can play the game in the browser, and then when you're on your way to meet your friend you can play the game on your iPhone or Google Android phone.
Q: Why did you decide to start Paprika Labs [John previously worked for NCSoft]
A: In Korea we have to do something like compulsory military service. Some people can actually, instead of going to the military, we can choose to work at a company instead. I worked at NCSoft for almost three years, and after finishing that I went back to school, and right after graduation I founded it.
Q: Then what would you say your long-term plans are for Paprika Labs
A: Well, we want to become one of the biggest players in web games and online games. Asia is the biggest market in the world, so can have the biggest player base in the world. And one thing that I want to keep is that we don't want to make games parents don't want their kids to play. We want them to be fun, and inspirational, but also learning. So we want to make a game that is really healthy for your brain.
Q: How do you feel about the software industry in Korea as an insider
A: I think the only big industry in Korea in terms of software is gaming. And maybe B2B enterprise software but that is dominated from IBM, Oracle, and companies like that. And we don't really call that IT anymore, because its one of those B2B things, and there isn't really any innovation. So when we talk about IT we usually talk about Google and those kind of companies right. Unfortunately the Korean web and IT industry is pretty much dominated by Naver.com, so startups like us can't really make a presence in the market. They're a very closed, walled-off garden, and even if you launch a new game, users aren't going to be able to fin dour service, and they won't display your stuff unless it is for a high price. They demand a lot of money every month, and its frustrating for a small company. Its not even worth it. Because you know in the States you can just blog about it and people will somehow will figure it out, and you can even write a lot of articles and get some free marketing over Twitter, or Facebook. But in Korea there isn't any medium to do that.