March 14th is International Pi Day and we thought we would celebrate by talking to one of our favorite math-heads: Jenna Hoffstein. She is the founder of Little Worlds Interactive; the company behind The Counting Kingdom. (It is a great game by the way. It ended up being one of the best games we played last year!)
Let’s hear what Jenna has to say shall we?
You developed the Counting Kingdom with Little Worlds Interactive. You could have chosen ANYTHING to make a game about. What made you settle on a game about teaching math?
I grew up playing many different educational games – everything from Carmen SanDiego to Treasure Mountain. I poured so many hours into these games because I truly enjoyed them, and also happened to learn quite a bit about math or english or geography at the same time. I make educational games because I want to create those same experiences for today’s kids! I picked math right off the bat because it’s an area that can be very stressful for both kids and parents. Math is fascinating and yet interest in the subject is at an all-time low, and kids as young as five are developing math anxiety. We make math games with the hope of having a positive impact on this situation, and because I want to show kids that math can be exciting!
Do you have any plans for future development in The Counting Kingdom? Is there a sequel in the works? Or are you moving on for now?
We’ll see! The studio is pursuing a few different options right now, so I can’t yet answer this question for certain.
The Counting Kingdom seems to be having a lot of success! It was one of our top five games of the year for 2014, but we’ve seen that you have received other recognition as well. How does it feel to see something you have made get so much praise?
Thank you! It’s truly hard to find the words for how it feels to see so much wonderful recognition for The Counting Kingdom. It’s both validating and exciting to know that people are enjoying and appreciating the game, and I hope it can lead the way for more educational games that go beyond the quiz model. It’s wonderful to be recognized with awards, but the moments that truly make it worthwhile are when I see a kid enjoying the game, or hear about a student’s math scores improving because of the time they spent playing The Counting Kingdom.
A lot of our readers have children who are aspiring game designers. Do you have any advice as to how to nurture that dream?
This is a great time to be a kid interested in game development. Kids can learn programming logic and reasoning with apps like Move the Turtle or My Robot Friend. For those who want to jump in and make games there are programs like Scratch, GameMaker and Twine, all of which are designed to be accessible for a wide range of ages. I am also a huge fan of Minecraft and how kids can use the Lego-like blocks to create amazing worlds!
Do you or your company have any plans to celebrate the extra special Pi Day ?