Last week we looked at the impact gaming is having on higher education, but that’s not the only way games are connecting to teaching. Companies like Kaplan, best known for its standardized testing prep programs, are getting into the videogame arena.
Click the jump to see how.
Last July, Kaplan was contacted by Aspyr Media, the Texas-based developer that specializes in cross-developing PC games to the Mac. The two organizations worked together to come up with a new type of game, one that improves players’ skill at taking that universally dreaded college entrance requirement, the SAT test. Scheduled to be released on the PC, Mac OSX and DS, Kaplan and Aspyr’s SAT “game” will resemble other edutainment software already available, like Brain Age and Ubisoft’s My Coach series.
“We saw a lot of success with games like Brain Age and realized that there is this huge, huge audience and there are voids throughout that audience,” Aspyr VP for Publishing Ted Staloch said.
But just because the game is about tests doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyable. The team at Aspyr says they’re focusing on making the game a piece of entertainment.
“The game is going to be an amazingly fun game so the audience can be as big as Brain Age,” Staloch said.
“It’s that science or that art of knowing what is the timing and the pace and what is acceptable for us to consider it to be fun or enjoyable or satisfying. We’re really trying to grab that first and bring in the expertise after,” Staloch said.
SAT prep is just the tip of the iceberg for Aspyr and Kaplan; both companies are looking to use their new relationship to further develop software for helping people get more fun out of studying for their test-taking.
“I think there’s a couple things,” Staloch said, “[the DS is] proven. It’s easy for us to look at a 12 million unit comparable in Brain Age and say that this audience likes game like this. And that audience might be young and it might be old; it doesn’t matter we just know there’s an audience that enjoys that. The nice thing Aspyr has and is able to do that a company like Kaplan couldn’t do is that we can support all platforms that are relevant. So going pretty specific into the style of our game and similar styles to games like Brain Age, and you realize that it works really good on the DS because it’s portable.”
But Kaplan and Aspyr don’t plan to stop at the DS, they say they’ll be expanding to other platforms as well. And the evolution of a video game demographic that has exploded on the scene with casual games being the focus? Staloch says Aspyr wants a piece of the pie.
“Thankfully the video games audience has just gotten so wide over the last 5 years. From Aspyr’s standpoint, we’re in the video game business so how we have to make the games and have that reach deep the biggest audience possible will do.
“I think its something we can all look at in the next 5 or 10 years and all say ‘huh maybe this was a lot bigger than we gave it credit for just because of what people might take away from this.’”