David Furman develops games to improve self, society

Elias ArtBy Tom Ballard, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Initiatives, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.

David Furman’s interest in developing apps for games starts with his desire for personal and societal improvements.

“I was looking into ways to better myself . . . diet and exercise as well as mentally,” the Northwest Arkansas native, who moved to the Knoxville area eight years ago, told us in a recent interview.

Today, the serial entrepreneur – three start-ups thus far, not counting one in high school – has developed Reactor, his mental strategy game that is available at no charge in the Apple Store.

“I wanted to make a game that was fun and addictive, but also had a net positive,” Furman explained. Reactor fits the bill. “It improves your memory as you play.”

Reactor resulted from several discoveries Furman made while seeking answers to his quest for improvement tools.

He came across a book titled Reality Is Broken, written by Jane McGonigal. The central thesis, as described on an Amazon listing, is that “we can leverage the power of games to fix what is wrong with the real world – from social problems like depression and obesity to global issues like poverty and climate change.”

He also learned about a concept called N-Back, where Furman says, “You have to remember numbers in sequence going back.” This helps increase an individual’s active memory.

The result of these two concepts is found in Reactor.

“I built a story and a fun game behind it,” Furman says. “It’s not like an exercise.”

His immediate goal is to “get a lot of people playing it.” An update will come later.

We asked Furman why the Reactor app is only available for iOS. His answers were insightful, at least for us.

“Apple is a more mature ecosystem with more developers and users,” he said, adding that another benefit is the fact that “iOS does not have as many screen sizes.” Furman was noting the limited number of iPhone and iPad models compared to Android devices.

“Android is still a ways off,” he says in relation to a Reactor app.

Furman mentioned arriving in the Knoxville region in 2005 and “stayed here longer than I expected.” He met his wife here, but noted she is Romanian by birth, so both are transplants to the region.

Furman is a Co-Founder of Spruz, Inc., a company creating customized websites for small businesses, and Skysa, Inc., a company that develops plug-ins for existing websites. In addition, he is the owner of Elias Art Interactive, the publisher of Reactor.

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