Monday, October 21, 2013

Is Mathbreakers actually educational?

This is a question we get all the time, and it's one of our biggest challenges! Is Mathbreakers actually educational -- meaning that kids can learn new concepts and improve understandings of core concepts -- or, is it just a video game with pretty colors that they play around in until something happens?

This is a difficult question to answer, because Mathbreakers is a totally new take on education. Most of the time, the student is given two things: A lecture or a document explaining an abstract concept, followed by a worksheet or test so that they can practice. Mathbreakers has none of these -- it's simply a world, a toybox to play in, that is bound by the laws of math.

Let's stop for a minute and make an analogy -- to driving a car.

When you first started driving, surely you took a driver's test and read the manual. But, everyone knows that driving in the real world is a completely different (and often terrifying) experience. After some time of driving on actual roads, drivers begin to feel comfortable and confident in their vehicles. They learn things that the books try to explain, but you don't really know it until you've had to watch for people who were about to cut you off, slam on their brakes, or walk out in front of you. No amount of studying prepares your feet and hands to react in these situations -- only experience can.

Maybe it's a stretch, but bear with me. Mathbreakers is like driving with math. Because the whole world, and all its outcomes, depend entirely upon your ability to put numbers together in the correct manner, you will have the experience of solving problems in your head and making the right choice, as well as sitting around stumped on a puzzle for a while until an "a-ha!" moment hits you. Our goal is to have the player learn mathematics, not because it's written down and they're told to study it, but because they have to experience it in a simulated reality, and master it in order to thrive in this new reality.

But the fun (and learning) doesn't stop there!

Mathbreakers isn't just a single player game with only a few types of math that we put together for you. It's a whole new world of creation and competition. Players can use numbers in whatever way they wish to do totally novel things -- building a number castle, for example, or a bridge with numbers. Or knocking down your opponent's number castle.

Here's where things get interesting. In our current game, if there were two number castles battling, things like prime numbers, fractions, really big numbers, and multiples of specific numbers becomes *Very important* for survival. If you can realize that your opponent's wall is all a multiple of 5, you can use that to destroy her. If she makes her wall into very large prime numbers, however, it will become very difficult for you to do anything to them -- you'd have to destroy them one at a time, because prime numbers don't have any factors in common with each other.

Furthermore, math doesn't stop at factoring and fractions, and neither does Mathbreakers. We're building a world where *all* of mathematics is possible to play with, including things like Trigonometry and Calculus. Imagine the castles you could build, and the various ways they might be destroyed, if you had the power to graph in 3-D!

We realize this is a brand new approach to the education of a subject like mathematics, but it's just crazy enough to work!

• The better you become at math, the more powerful you become in the game
• Multiplayer opens up a whole new world of math competition (both speed and ingenuity)
• There is no upper limit to what is possible to build with 3-d mathematics

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