As founder of the infamous message board 4chan, Christopher Poole has seen his fair share of memetic Internet phenomena.
But after releasing his latest app, DrawQuest, he encountered something even he hadn’t seen before. Users began to flood the app’s creative prompts—prompts like “What’s in the attic?” or “What’s under the bed?”—with drawings of a heartthrob boy band Poole had never heard of: One Direction.
“I didn’t actually know what One Direction was until DrawQuest because as it turns out, teenage girls can draw a direct line between One Direction and any one thing,” he said. “It didn’t matter what the prompt was. They’d draw the band.”
Poole’s first two projects, dark and unruly 4chan and then sanitized imageboard Canv.as, had audiences he describes as “very masculine” even though attracting a male-skewing demographic was never his intention. So that makes DrawQuest his third project to reach a particular narrow audience when Poole was aiming much more broadly.
Only this time, DrawQuest drew a targeted audience that just happened to be the diametric opposite of those at Poole’s earlier sites. “The surprise was that the app was very, very popular with teen girls, which is a direct contrast to our previous experience,” he said.
Catering To The Base
Although anyone with an iPad can download DrawQuest, Poole expected it to be most popular with adults. Instead, 70% of users are female and primarily teenagers. Instead of attracting major tech coverage, DrawQuest is more likely to be written up in the likes of teen blogazine Hello Giggles.
It may not be the audience Poole’s team was trying to court, but it’s one they’re thrilled to have. Since the app’s launch in early 2013, the DrawQuest team has worked hard to make the app more accommodating to its female audience. For example, he related a story about the app’s primary artist, who draws a daily illustration to prompt users to respond with their own creative expressions.
“She drew a knight saving a princess and a number of people switched the gender so the princess was saving the knight, like the girl doesn’t need saving,” he said. “We’ve definitely drawn a lot more [prompts] with the girl as the protagonist.”
Today, DrawQuest will releases its most substantial update since launch. Mixed in with fixes to make the hundred-thousand-person community run more smoothly, it also offers users more features and palettes for purchase. The update isn’t just geared toward girls since, Poole says, girls have made the community a pleasant place for everyone.
“It’s a friendly, happy, inviting community. It’s the polar opposite of 4chan,” he said.