Children think computer games are cool. Children hate maths / physics / learning. Therefore - hide maths inside computer game and make maths cool.
The unfortunate results of this formula have been assaulting unsuspecting young minds since the first BBC B turned up in the corner of the classroom. As one of the most discerning groups of videogame critics, young people are especially attuned at discovering deliberate ‘learning’ hidden within ‘fun’ and greet it with the same suspicion as the vegetables hidden deep inside the sauce. They don’t have an intrinsic problem with learning, but quite rightly demand a baseline level of quality in their fun.
Thankfully, the sorry days of ‘maths invaders’ are behind us, and public service broadcasters are starting to throw some serious commissioning clout at their interactive slate. Channel 4 had considerable success with their episodic Bow Street Runner game in support of ‘City of Vice’ and have declared interactivity to be a key part of their ongoing education strategy with some twenty projects being developed over the coming months.
Earlier this year, the BBC released a new project which took the tired old quiz game genre and invested it with considerable new life. Developed by Amanita Design, the Czech company responsible for the exquisite Samarost and currently at work on Machinarium, it’s an impressive success.
Questionaut continues the organic design aesthetic of their previous work and wraps it around a quiz game aimed at eleven year olds. A gentle, atmospheric experience, each of the eight levels opens with a point-and-click environmental puzzle before challenging the player with a series of multiple choice questions. Answer correctly, and your balloon fills with knowledge allowing you to fly to the next level.
Beautifully rendered with a characteristically eccentric sound design, Amanita have created a game for eleven year olds which everyone will enjoy.