Learning has to progress as technology progresses. If it doesn’t, then learning becomes boring and out of touch with the current way of living, thinking, and breathing. It is for this reason that the abacus is no longer the standard method of counting in the classroom unless a substitute history teacher is trying to teach simple sums.
The iPad is being touted as the next ‘must have’ classroom necessity, as electronic whiteboards seem to have passed their sell by date; If this is the case, then TigerFace Games are releasing titles that not only complement this idea, but furthers it with beautiful, playful games. The first of this being the sum-challenging Equator. Hold onto your hats people.
Aiming at the 6-8 year old market, Equator is colourful, user intuitive and is exactly what the doctor ordered when it comes to a refreshing take on such a simple idea. Not everybody likes playing on their own or is able to learn by themselves. I for one always found it easier to revise with someone else; It’s what study groups are for and it’s why they have such amazing adventures in Community. Equator requires you and a friend to level out the globe when adding or subtracting numbers given to you on the colourful hub interface. So if your friend makes 10 by adding 6 to 4, then you have to make the same number by subtracting numbers from each other. Difficulties are based around the seasons of the year with summer being the start, and the most simple, but by the time you are knocking on the door of winter, the numbers will be higher and the operands will become plentiful. It won’t be long until you start to question your level of math, regardless of age or mental capability.
Learning games are crap. Usually. GCSE Bytesize, Horrible Histories and Look Around You brought a lighthearted feel to learning, and Equator does the same. The cutesy graphics are instantly appealing to kids, and the chance to collect hats appeals to anyone who has either played Team Fortress or who is a registered kleptomaniac. The genius idea of utilizing the ‘air hockey’ style layout really benefits the game, and the ‘play on the go’ audience that this really needs to hit head-on if it wants to succeed. It is easy to see Equator being played on trains by families instead of kids being left with a first person shooter and then asking themselves why little Jimmy doesn't include himself in school activities any more.
What Equator is missing though is an element of competition between those playing, which as a kid always made me want to try harder to succeed. Working together is all well and good, but all games with a co-operative play mode usually have a counter-operative play mode included. Competition is good for the soul and makes one push oneself to compete with friends' scores; That’s how Microsoft nailed the console gaming market through the use of achievements and gamerscore. Collaboration is good, but a little bit of friendly rivalry doesn’t hurt.
TigerFace Games have made a fantastic impact on the mobile market with Equator, so news that they have numerous games on the way is both great for education and for the UK games industry as a whole, especially after the closure of numerous studios this week. If you do anything this week, download Equator and find out how much math you've forgotten, or how much your kids will learn.