By Marcus Estrada
[dropcap]D[/dropcap]o you ever notice how it can be so easy to memorize stats and lore from your favorite video games? Accumulating heaps of “useless” knowledge seems to come easily when it’s fun – and the best video games usually are! So then, why hasn’t anyone attempted to use video games as a vehicle for real life-related learning? Immersed Games are one company trying just that with Tyto Online.
This learning MMORPG is currently seeking funding and definitely appealed to my tastes as a fan of educational games. Back in the day I found The Oregon Trail to be great fun alongside Reader Rabbit and Math Blaster. As such, Tyto Online immediately seemed right up my alley. Sure, I might not be in their target audience of middle school students but learning doesn’t stop once you leave school!
I was fortunate to have a chat with Immersed Games’ PR Veronica Hernandez and learn a little more about the project, their drive, and the founding tenets of Tyto Online. First, it was important to know the inspiration. What sparked the desire to create a game focused around learning? It started thanks to the developers’ experiences playing World of Warcraft. After hours and hours of play they knew the world inside and out, from stats to landmarks. Without realizing it they had accumulated a vast amount of knowledge that would never serve much purpose outside of WoW. Why not apply this addictive, entertaining learning to academic subjects? The matter was settled – this needed to become a reality.
Tyto Online, their dream MMO, is finally coming to fruition. Of course, they’re starting small. With a $50,000 goal the hope is to create the first aspect of their massive world. The first goal is to create an ecology-focused module first that includes three biodomes (desert, grassland, rainforest). Of course, making it to their $300 thousand stretch goal would open things up to nine biodomes.
But aren’t both $50 and $300 thousand really small amounts for a MMO? Yes, but Immersed Games is aware of this too. Unlike some developers, they have created a “true Kickstarter.” The money they hope to raise will allow them to create a complete ecology module for Tyto Online. Being funded would just be the first step. If the team can prove that people support this (and have a functioning, complete game to show) then there’s a far better chance investors will pick up and further fund it!
Another question gamers might have is what makes this so different from other educational games out there. Well, just think about it for a minute… How many educational games out there that attempt to cover a wide variety of material? They typically are all specific to one subject. As of right now Tyto Online is about ecology, but Immersed Games desires to branch out far beyond that in the future. Ecology is just the first step in a very large world of subjects – and a great gateway tool at that. After all, learning about ecology easily leads into other subjects such as biology.
Some might wonder how learning subjects such as these could ever be considered fun. Well, just think back to all the things you’ve absorbed when playing games. The intent is exactly the same here except with knowledge that actually applies to the real world. After all, learning is fun when you’re engaged in the material. Unfortunately the school system sometimes sucks out all inherent fun by teaching memorization instead. With a good core MMO, players will be interested to learn more about the game world, which in turn enhances their awareness once outside of it.
Tyto Online intends to further learning with Lab Kits. For example, Tyto Online might have a quest for players to solve that involves doing a real life lab at home. They’ll simply use the instructions and test it out. Once completed, they will return to the game and see how their discoveries related to the in-game story. Actually giving students a purpose for their work, rather than simply assigning work, seems like the right way to go. It’ll also help get kids off the computer sometimes which isn’t a bad thing either.
Immersed Games is an incredibly inspired team with a project that seems limitless in potential. So far, they’ve definitely managed to excite me with the possibility of Tyto Online. As fun as classic learning games were to me, I can’t help but feel they gained a stigma as something uncool to play. Tyto Online could change that. To me, it has the potential to become a fantastic addition to a student’s lifestyle.
You can learn more about Tyto Online by heading over to its Kickstarter campaign, which is running until August 10th.
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[author image=”http://cliqist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/marcus.jpg” ]Marcus is a fellow with a love for video games, horror, and Japanese food. When he’s not writing about games for a multitude of sites, he’s usually still playing one. One day when he became fed up with the way sites would ignore niche titles he decided to start his own site by the name of Pixel Pacas. Writing about video games is something he hopes to continue doing for many years to come. Some of Marcus’s favorite games include Silent Hill 2, Killer7, and The Sims. [/author]