At this year’s A MAZE Johannesburg, we met a crowd of wonderful people. One of them is Regina Kgatle. During her talk at the event, Regina announced her new project 67games. 67games is about creating and showing educational games to kids all over South Africa. Everyone attending was hooked right away, so it wasn’t a surprise a crowd of developers already made a small meetup with Regina in Cape Town just a couple of days later to evaluate how everyone can contribute, including Zeppelin Studio. If you like to know more, if you would like to contribute, or if you simply want to say hello, you can check out the webpage at: www.67games.org
Apart from trying to be of help by offering our web development resources, we are also pledging a game to the project – of course, making games is what we do. All of our previous games focused on emotions and story, rather than on education, and they were targeting adults instead of children. So we simply decided on a series of mini Game Jams to come up with something new. Since we studied Game Engineering and Simulation (emphasis on the last word), it wasn’t much of a surprise when the first prototype at the A MAZE was a physics simulation. The topics “wind”, “gravity” and “lighter than air” ended up as an abstract rodeo in cyberspace.
It is fun for a couple of times and every topic is included as a game concept. But since it’s so abstract and minimalist, it’s hard to believe that anyone will learn anything from it. On the other hand, it isn’t minimalistic enough, since it covers more than one topic, which is probably the reason none of the topics is conveyed so that you can actually learn its concepts.
So one topic straight! Several concepts and prototypes about “heat”, “navigation with stars” and “quarks” later, we ended up at a different game jam with a nice little space game about gravity: Your own pocket-sized solar system. You shoot rockets and asteroids into a planet system and watch it grow and evolve.
The game has only one core mechanic that’s important for the player: gravity. Since everything else is so simple, you can grasp the game easily and figure out the concept of gravity on the go. It also helps that in contrast to the rodeo in cyberspace you don’t have any time constraints and can take all the time you need.
Since this game is still in a very rough shape, we are planning to tweak it during upcoming Zeppelin game jams to something really cool for the kids of 67games. Luckily, a global game jam for 67games is planned for 2016 – so stay tuned.
If you will be a part of it. Keep in mind: Using educational content is a difficult process of walking the fine line between fun and boring: Presenting the topic so that it can easily be understood, but not forcing it to the players at any cost. Try to stay on one topic for each game.