During the past month we have been working on a new game called MathFu, as part of a project called ‘Spil For Fremtiden’ (Games for the future). We’re one out of five game studios who are working together with five educational institutions, to create learning games. Learning games are games designed to be educational and teach the player about different subjects.
ClearCut Games was paired with parkvejsskolen in Odder, with the goal to create a prototype for a learning game on iPad that improves the student’s mental calculation skills.
It was a huge challenge, considering we had to come up with a game and make a playable prototype in just one month. After a few weeks of development, the game was presented at the learning games expo in Viborg.
Our approach to the prototype was to ask the students at parkvejsskolen in Odder what they considered a good learning game. The students had some very good input:
• The game should not only be about learning, and should contain gameplay for entertainment in addition to the purely educational content. To get a high score you should be good at both aspects.
• It should be competitive, either with a high score system where you can beat your friends score or an online multiplayer aspect.
• It should be fast and dynamic, small play sessions should be possible.
• The difficulty should automatically increase while playing.
After getting input from the students, we gathered some information about what kind of game our target group likes to play on the iPad. An endless runner was definitely something that not only matched the student’s idea of a good game, but was also something they already were spending a lot of time playing. Among the games on the app store, Subway Surfers and Temple Run are extremely popular endless runners, so we decided to borrow core elements from these games, and combine them with a gameplay mechanic of our own for training mental calculation.
Using a proven concept meant that we didn’t have to reinvent the wheel in just one month, and would allow us to focus on the math and calculation part of the game. And that led to MathFu!
In MathFu you play a small Japanese ninja, who is trying to escape from a group of angry Chinese farmers on The Great Wall. Utilizing the touch screen, you swipe to dodge different obstacles. But the sneaky farmers have put up calculations on the towers, so only those who can solve the calculations know which of the doors the correct one is. Bonus missions include picking out different multiplication tables while on the run.
Here’s a screenshot from the prototype:
As mentioned earlier, we presented the game at the Learning Games expo in Viborg, which was a great experience! People enjoyed playing both MathFu and our puzzle game Cado. Overall it was an inspirational event, a lot of great projects and people attended. Hopefully the prototype will be further developed into a finished game, so students can practice their mental calculation skill while enjoying the fun of an endless runner. As I mentioned, making the MathFu prototype in a month was a great challenge, but we are also very busy with our upcoming game Minnow (working title). Expect to hear more about that soon, and to finish of this post, here’s a picture of some kids playing MathFu and Cado at the expo.