Game on

Report finds that Houstonians played over 97 million hours on mobile games last year

Across the U.S., each person played an average of 21 hours each of mobile games last year. Getty Images

Whether its for the wanted distraction or the thrill of competition, Houstonians love their mobile games. In fact, the city as a whole racked up an estimated 97 million hours of mobile game play in 2018 — the second most for a city in the United States, according to a study.

California-based Unity Technologies tracked over 7 billion hours of gaming last year in the whole of the U.S — that's 21 hours and 6 minutes on average per U.S. resident.

The company is behind the platform that powers more than half of new mobile games. The data represents information collected from games that use Unity Analytics. So, the full amount of hours played is actually known to be even larger.

Houston was only outdone by Chicago, which spent more than 130 million hours on gaming apps. Los Angeles came in third with over 94 million hours. Dallas — the only other Texas city in the top five — came in at No. 4 with 78 million hours played. Brooklyn, New York, rounded out the top five with over 71 million hours.

Unity also reported on the top apps played across the city. All five are available on Android and iOS devices.

  1. Panda Pop
  2. Happy Color - Color By Number
  3. Pixel Art - Color By Number
  4. Helix Jump
  5. Cashman Casino

In addition to mobile game technology, Unity Technologies provides a real-time 3D development platform that's used in a wide range video games, films, auto industry applications, and more.

The video game industry is worth billions, and the predicted revenue for 2018 was estimated to be $135 billion, according to data by Newzoo reported by GamesIndustry.Biz, and mobile games make up almost half of that total figure, which is a 10 percent increase from 2017.

Consumer spending on video games is also up year over year, reports MCV Magazine. Consumers across U.S. spent $9.1 billion in the third quarter of 2018 alone.

Houston-based Moleculin has three different oncology technologies currently in trials. Getty Images

Immunotherapy and personalized medicine get all the headlines lately, but in the fight against cancer, a natural compound created by bees could beat them in winning one battle.

In 2007, chairman and CEO Walter Klemp founded Moleculin Biotech Inc. as a private company. The former CPA had found success in life sciences with a company that sold devices for the treatment of acne. That introduction into the field of medical technology pushed him toward more profound issues than spotty skin.

"Coincidentally, the inventor of that technology had a brother who was a neuro-oncologist at MD Anderson," Klemp recalls.

The since-deceased Dr. Charles Conrad slowly lured Klemp into what he calls the "cancer ecosphere" of MD Anderson. In 2016, the company went public. And it looks like sooner rather than later, it could make major inroads against some of the toughest cancers to beat.

Klemp observed that while Houston has the world's largest medical center, "the tragic irony" is that other cities have far more biotech money ready to be invested.

"The Third Coast is really starved for capital," he says. "What drew me into this was I was one of the few entrepreneurs that lived here that knew the ropes in terms of tapping into East and West Coast capital structures and could make that connection for them."

The company has three core technologies currently being tested with some success, but the most promising is called WP1066, named for researcher Waldemar Priebe, "a rock star" in his native Poland, according to Klemp, who works at MD Anderson. Though Priebe came to the U.S. in the 1980s, he is still an adjunct professor at the University of Warsaw and conducts some of his trials in Poland because it's easier to get grant money there.

WP1066 uses propolis, a compound of beeswax, sap and saliva that bees produce to seal small areas of their hives, as a base. The molecular compound that Priebe discovered affects STAT3 (signal transducer and activator of transcription), a transcription factor that encourages tumor development. In short, the active compound in WP1066 both downregulates the STAT3, a long-time Holy Grail in the cancer research world, and directly attacking the tumor, but also quieting T Cells, which allows the body's own immune system to fight the cancer itself. Essentially, it works both as chemotherapy and immunotherapy.

WP1066 is demonstrating drug-like properties in trials at MD Anderson on glioblastoma, the aggressive brain cancer that recently took the life of the hospital's former president, John Mendelsohn, as well as John McCain and Beau Biden. It is also being tested against pancreatic cancer, one of the most virulent killers cancer doctors combat.

Priebe also created Annamycin, named for his oldest daughter, a first-line chemotherapy drug that fights Acute Myeloid Leukemia without the cardiotoxicity that can damage patients' hearts even as they beat their cancer.

WP1122 uses yet another mechanism to fight cancer.

"Most people don't know that morphine is essentially a modified version of heroin," Klemp explains.

The difference between the poppy-based drugs? Heroin can cross the blood-brain barrier. It's described as the dicetyl ester of morphine. WP1122 is the dicetyl ester of 2DG (2-Deoxyglucose), a glycolysis inhibitor, which works by overfilling tumor cells with fake glucose so that they can't consume the real glucose that makes them grow.

"The theory is, we could feed you so full of junk food that eventually you'd starve to death," Klemp elucidates. It can cross the blood-brain barrier and is metabolized slowly, meaning that it can be made into a drug in a way that 2DG cannot.

What's impressive about Moleculin is its diversity of drugs. Most companies have one drug that gets all or most of the attention. Moleculin has strong hopes for all three currently in trials.

"It's essentially multiple shots on the goal," says executive vice president and CFO Jonathan Foster.

Moleculin has 13 total employees, five of whom are based in Houston. An office in the Memorial Park area serves as a landing pad for employees and collaborators from around the world to get their work done when in Space City. The virtual office set-up works for the company because experts can stay in their home cities to get their work done. And that work is on its way to saving scores of lives.