Doing Good Through Gaming

Entrepreneur leverages the power of technology to improve health outcomes

Yuting Su has always focused on helping people, but her methods for doing so have changed—and dramatically.

The 30-year-old, who is originally from Taiwan, once worked in a hospital as a respiratory therapist. In that job, Su was able to see firsthand how the power of technology could benefit people’s lives. Today she’s still using technology to make a difference—but now she’s doing it through the world of gaming.

So how did her career take such a turn? She had always loved design and the arts, she says. After realizing that a medical career wasn’t her thing, she decided to get an MFA in interactive media and games design from the University of Southern California. Then, life took a turn again.

“I got pregnant during my thesis year,” she says. “I started looking into education and wondering how I could create something that could benefit my son.”

She came up with an idea for a thesis topic that catapulted her into entrepreneurship. Octobo, an interactive plush octopus for kids, would teach a range of skills including problem solving, math, reading, and even emotional intelligence. Su founded her company, Thinker-Tinker LLC, to bring Octobo to market. She’s been named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list, and Octobo was nominated for Best Kids and Family Game and Most Innovative Game at Indie Prize USA, a competition for up-and-coming game developers who show promise to become future leaders in the industry.

As a woman in the male-dominated field of gaming, Su says she focuses not on the obstacles, but on the progress being made as more women enter the field. “If there’s anything I that I can do to help female colleagues and other founders, I will, because I got a lot of help along the way,” she says.

For now, she has big plans for other interactive products that implement emerging technologies in the fields of health, wellness, and education. “We want to make an impact in children’s education and bring the future of toys and games to our little ones,” she says. “Games provide a very powerful medium because they’re fun and can engage people.”

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