Hello everyone! Josh Hughes here from Team KAIZEN (www.teamkaizengames.com). We're one of the 2010 DML 3 Competition Winners (GameChangers LittleBigPlanet Category, Best in Show Physics). We released the HASTAC LittleBigPlanet Pack we made almost a year ago, and the exposure to STEM in Video Games and the current conversation surrounding it has had a huge impact on us!
Don't get me wrong, we're still a normal game studio (one of our projects is a brawler called Shattered Soul, which has no STEM whatsoever). However, we want to increase STEM awareness in art and entertainment and feel there needs to be a new kind of game designation: Educational Lite. Educational lite games, in our view, aren't necessarily aimed at classroom use (although they could certainly be part of a curriculum) and aren't meant to fully prep a player to pass a test. However, educational lite games mix in STEM as part of the game design so they can increase player comfort and confidence with STEM topics.
We feel Educational Lite games have a lot to offer both STEM advancement and game design, and with that in mind we're pleased to introduce you to Burst!.
(This is the standard gameplay screen. Players tap the 4 metal launchers to queue up fireworks, then they tap DETONATE when a blue pulse hits the window. This causes the fireworks to blow on the beat of the song.)
Burst! is the indie rhythm game for indie musicians. In it, players detonate fireworks to the beat of music. In the final version, we hope to have a web tool where indie bands can upload their own music and add the beats players need to respond to (effectively making their own downloadable content for Burst!).
The Educational Lite element in Burst! comes from its' unlockables: as players progress they unlock elements off of the Periodic Table to increase their firework color palate! (This is the real way fireworks get their colors). We also allow players to make their own Special Shell that detonates in the sky when they're doing well. In creating this Special Shell, players get to play with the exciting elements of Chemistry and Pyrotechnics without threatening to blow the house apart!
The screenshots you see here are from a Flash powered proof of concept we built of Burst! (which you can play at http://teamkaizengames.com/games/burst-web-edition-full/). We got a lot of good feedback from that proof of concept (including a lot of normal players loving the chemistry tie in--the felt they learned about fireworks through Burst! without ever feeling like they were stepping into an educational environment!). However, we have got as far as we could with a Flash prototype and are now trying to raise $6,500.00 on Kickstarter to get going on an Unreal 3 reboot of Burst! (Unreal 3 is the same game tech that powers Gears of War and Batman: Arkham City, so this tech will allow us to make Burst! fully 3D with real looking fire particle effects).
The link to the Kickstarter is http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/gfgames/burst-the-indie-rhythm-game-for-indie-unsigned-mus and our goal is to raise the aforementioned $6,500.00 by April 1st. Those who back Burst! are entitled to rewards such as their name in the credits, a real working mini seatbelt keychain with our logo on it and even the Development Team T-Shirt. I'd like to politely ask the HASTAC community to help as much as possible, both through contribution and through spreading the word! Either way, just for even considering to help please feel free to download one of the main songs to Burst!, Bad Battery Door Burst! Remix by Montana rockers M-79, on us at www.teamkaizengames.com/m-79 :-).
Thank you for your time! We REALLY want to get this conversation going! There is a great place for fully educational games, and we aren't saying they should go away (anything but!). However, we also feel there is a lot of room for Educational Lite games--games that engage gamers where they are at and show them STEM isn't just for the lab or classroom, STEM is all around them and can enable them to have more fun and meaning in life!
PS: Follow me on Twitter for the latest updates www.twitter.com/ZookeyTK