Draper company ready to launch Facebook game
Social networking • Funium creates Sim's style world starring your family tree.
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Imagine working and living in the same cabin with your great-great-great-great grandparents.

With "Family Village," a new Facebook game launching next week, that's exactly what amateur genealogists will be able to do.

The new computer game, produced by Draper developer Funium, allows players to import their ancestors into a "Sims"-styled virtual world where they can build homes, go to work and share experiences just like in real life. The game has its official launch Tuesday.

This week, Funium announced that it received$1.2 million in new funding from both Utah entrepreneur Jim Sorenson and genealogy site FamilyLink, which was co-founded by investor Paul Allen.

"The vision of the game is to help people who play it to understand that we are all a part of one great world family," said Funium chief executive Jeff Wells.

Wells came up with the idea for "Family Village" more than four years ago while working on his family genealogy one night.

"I stayed up all night and found it very engaging," he said. "I thought it would be a very good game concept — finding historical documents about our ancestors and finding out about ancestors I didn't know anything about."

A team of about two dozen programmers began working on the game in May. About 8,000 players have been testing the game to hone its playability.

The player starts out by building a village and can import his or her ancestors by creating game avatars of them. Those relatives can then build their own homes, get jobs and buy items based on the timeline they lived in — for example, your great-grandparents could buy and use a Model T.

As in other Facebook games such as the popular "Farmville," there's a social networking aspect to the game. You can visit other players' villages and help them build their homes or do other projects together, and can exchange actual documents about your ancestors.

Wells said the game fetches information about ancestors in the game through partnering with genealogy companies and through Google.

Eventually, players will be able to upload their own ancestral information and documents into the game.

The game is free to play by logging into Facebook, butFunium hopes to generate revenue from "Family Village" by selling downloadable content, such as additional clothing or hairstyles, to players for their avatars.

They also hope to have advertising in the game, Wells said.

There are more than 500 million users on Facebook. According to ThinkEquity Partners, social gaming is expected to generate $2.18 billion and bring in 79 million players by 2012. And Zynga alone, makers of "Farmville," is expected to generate$1.8 billion in revenue in 2011, according to a recent story in the New York Post.

vince@sltrib.com —

It takes a village

Funium, a Draper game developer, is launching a new Facebook game called "Family Village." The casual computer game allows players to import versions of their ancestors into a virtual world where they can build a home, get jobs and create a community.

Funium received $1.2 million in funding from Utah billionaire James Sorenson and genealogy site FamilyLink. The game, which has been in development since May, officially launches April 19.