Video game enthusiasts find success with mobile game designed specifically for people of color

by William E. Ketchum III Posted: December 27, 2011

Singer/songwriter Kandi Burress shows off her Kandi Koated Spades

Playing video games all day may be perfectly fine for a college student, but the same usually doesn’t apply to men in their 30s and 40s. That’s unless you’re entrepreneurs Clemille “CJ” Peters, Jr., 34, and Marcus Matthews, 40, who not only play games but make them as well. The pair of Atlanta residents run Konsole Kingz, a company that uses promotions, event planning, gaming tournaments and marketing strategies to help video game companies tap into urban markets. After working with industry giants like Sega Sports and Rockstar Games, the pair recently released Kandi Koated Spades, an Apple Store spades game that’s endorsed by singer/songwriter and Real Housewives of Atlanta star Kandi BurressBlackEnterprise.com caught up with Peters and Matthews who reveal what role Twitter played in partnering with Burress, how folks likeTyler Perry and Spike Lee inspire their business model, and why they would prefer to have more competition.

How did the concept for Kandi Koated Spades come about?

Matthews: We wanted to do a Black game that was accessible. I grew up playing tonk and spades, and I would say sometime in mid-2000, I went to my family reunion back in Jacksonville, and everybody busted out spades tables and cards and I was like, “Man, this was made for mobile.” It’s a multiplayer game, it’s simple, people like to talk trash, it’s social, and it’s something that everybody knows, so casual people will play. It’s not like some new game where you have to learn the rules; everybody knows how to play spades in the Black community. You’ve just got to put the right product out there…

Why did it take so long from when you first had the idea for the game to come out?

Matthews: I started conceptualizing it in the mid-2000s, playing around and doing some stuff but couldn’t find the time to focus on it because I was dealing with other projects. When me and CJ hooked up, I told him about it. He’s a bigger spades player than me, so he was into it from the rip! So we just had to find the time and situation. Two years ago, before the iPhone came out, I started on a design. When the iPhone came out, it became a clear, strong platform. I redesigned the game on paper for the iPhone, and I started going down that path. I knew I wanted to work with a celebrity, someone who could bring some attention to the game, who was a gamer ideally. When CJ got involved, he really helped crystallize some things.

What did you bring to the table that was missing?

Peters: When I got involved, I was gathering all the rules and doing all the game play stuff. I was basically the game play producer; making sure it has the right feel, and that the [everything was] represented. I’m always on Twitter—if you’re not following me @KonsoleKingz, you probably should [laughs]—but I use Twitter as market research.

One night, I was throwing out tweets about how you play spades and Kandi replied to my tweets. We had a tweet exchange back and forth, going over rules, and after we did that, it started to form in my head. We were already looking for a person that everybody liked [to endorse the game] and Kandi fit that mold—she had a show coming out, and was going to be all over TV… [Marcus] liked the idea. I knew people that knew her management, we bought [the idea] to her and she liked it.

How involved was she in the actual creation and direction of the game?

Peters: We wanted her to have real input, so we’d give her test inputs of the game and let her play. She wanted certain nuances how she played in the game, so we put those in there. When you win and lose, we have quotes from her pop up, so it feels like she’s watching over all the games being played. We got her to do videos for it. She’s involved, she’s not just like, “Use my name and go.” She comes to the office, sits down and we talk.