The Inspiration for Gorillas!, an AR game by The Ellen Fund and Krikey!

The Ellen Fund is proud to partner with AR developer Krikey to create their new Augmented Reality game Gorillas!.

Krikey was founded by sisters Jhanvi and Ketaki Shriram, who have previously worked at YouTube, Facebook's Oculus and Google. Not only are they entrepreneurs — but they are smart: Jhanvi holds a BA and MBA from Stanford University, as well as an MFA from USC. Ketaki holds a BA, MA, and PhD from Stanford.

But what inspired these Silicon Valley sisters to develop a game about gorillas?

Jhanvi and Ketaki had the privilege of traveling to visit the mountain gorillas several years ago. Initially battling wasps and trekking through deep foliage, they wondered if it was worth all of the effort to see our closest relative — of which there are only 1,000 left alive. But seeing the gorillas in their natural habitat changed their lives.

From the momentary terror of a male silverback making a mock-charge at them … to getting play-bumped by a baby gorilla … every interaction made their hearts skip a beat. They realized that pictures didn’t do justice to the experience they felt walking through the forest. Even video couldn’t capture the feeling when they first saw the gorilla. Only years later would we realize the perfect medium to translate the experience: Augmented Reality.

“Augmented Reality empowers us to build an imaginary world and a window into it,” said Jhanvi. “We created Krikey to encourage conservation and bridge that gap between inspiration and reality. Ellen and Portia started their organization in memory of a famous female explorer, Dian Fossey, who studied gorillas in this region in the 1970s. Her work has been an inspiration to us and it has been a privilege to work on The Ellen Fund AR experience. We can’t wait to share this with the world!”

Gorillas! is available starting today — for free! — on the App Store and Google Play. Download yours — and follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for more news on gorillas!

Photos courtesy Jhanvi Shriram and Ketaki Shriram

Casey Rogers