If you’ve ever been remotely interested in learning about your family history, Family Village may be the game for you. By incorporating partnerships with AncestorSync and NewspaperArchive.com, this Facebook game is as ambitious as it is unique.
The game’s developer Funium, the Provo-based game startup has raised $1.8 million in seed funding to add to the $1.2 million it raised last February. Ancestry.com investor and GeneTree co-founder Jim Sorenson’s company Family Odyssey led the latest round of funding.
Where’s the fun joining Ancestry.com and looking up family records? As Funium CEO Jeff Wells pointed out, “I noticed that I was interested in it because I liked the outcome, but the work was hard. It was like doing taxes or doing research. That’s when I had the idea: why don’t I make this process fun?”
By combining the research process with social gaming, users can learn about their family history in a Sims-like environment. You build up your family tree, create avatars, complete quests and collect artifacts to store in each ancestor’s room.
Your actual ancestors serve as the characters in the game who embark on quests relevant to their given time period. Successful completion of quests yields the ultimate reward: Actual historical documents made available through the game’s connection with AncestorSync and NewspaperArchive.com.
The game’s connection with genealogy services also enables it to work in the background and discover ancestors you may not have heard about. You can wake up one day, log into the game and receive an alert of a long-deceased uncle.
“A typical social game has a short life span,” said Jeff Wells. “People play it, get bored and move onto something else. With this game here, the further you get into it, the more deep it becomes, the more likely that documents will be pulled up and ancestral connections will be made.”