“I’m extremely honored to be welcomed into the KS WELI Spring 24 Cohort alongside other amazing FoundHERS. As a first-generation UT student, I could have never imagined that I’d be on the entrepreneurship path I am now, but I’m incredibly grateful for all of the experiences and opportunities, like this one, that being a student at UT Austin has allowed me. I would not be here without the support of countless mentors and peers. With everything I learn, I’m excited to keep using my knowledge and skills to create interactive experiences that make the world a better place. Thank you KS WELI for this opportunity!”
About the FoundHER(s)
In the Fall semester of 2022, myself and five other talented AET students came together to begin working on a game that we had no idea would turn into a viable business venture. I think the idea that all six of us could form a business entity together really started to form when we went to the world’s largest Game Developer Conference(GDC) in March of 2023 to showcase the title we’d been working on for 8 months, Re:Fresh. We initially had planned to release Re:Fresh for free on Steam, but after playing our demo, so many industry folks told us that we had something and that we should value our work and sell it! From that point forward the seed was planted, but it didn’t really mature until I attended Develop:Brighton in the UK in July of 2023 and received incredible reception from more industry professionals and publishers. I believe Develop:Brighton was really the catalyst for me that made me think ‘Wow, we could really do this. People believe in us and like the game!’. After returning from the UK, the team and I had some really difficult conversations, but we ultimately decided that we were going to form an indie game studio. And the rest is history!
About the Company
Gaming is the largest sector of the entertainment industry, and historically speaking, this market has targeted a particular demographic seen through the popularity of military shooters and other violent, high-stress games over the years. However, since COVID-19, a previously niche category known as “Cozy” gaming has quickly become mainstream as more gamers from diverse backgrounds are increasingly looking for relaxing, low-stress gaming experiences. Cozy gaming has opened the door to even wider audiences like women, children, and LGBTQ+ folks, who’ve traditionally been overlooked.
To combat this, Merge Conflict started as a senior capstone project by six goofy and passionate game developers with a dream to create games that are not only fun for everyone but make the world a more eco-friendly place. We know games can go beyond pure entertainment and help spread motivation to fight for a more environmentally conscious society 🙂
Developed by our diverse team, our first title, Re:Fresh™ launched on Steam in April 2023, and centers on environmental awareness, community building, and a relaxing user experience. We wanted this game, and others we make in the future, to be reflective of cozy gamers and other marginalized communities through the lens of counter-cultural movements that encourage these groups to see themselves represented in some manner through narrative, mechanics, art, or systemic design.