As soon as I saw this display at Web Summit 2014, all I could think of was this. However once I got talking to Shawn Young and his awesome family (It’s a family run business two brothers and a father plus a lot of love) I began to think that:
1. This idea is brilliant.
2. I really got screwed over in my education, stupid technology of the past, does anyone else remember chalk boards?
Recently while talking with an old friend we reminisced about our days of playing PSO, this took over our school lives and was probably why we didn’t chase after girls or even touch alcohol till much later than our peers and it was a relativity simple MMO. Imagine taking something as addictive as that and turning it into a useful tool for teaching, the boys from Classcraft have managed to make this Holy Grail of inventions, a fun way to learn, that’s not Bill Nye.
Warning anyone out there who has kicked the MMO habit you may need to scratch that itch after you’re done reading this, might I suggest Classcraft?
Can you tell our readers about what Classcraft is?
Classcraft is an online role-playing game that transforms any classroom into a role-playing game. Players can be warriors, mages and healers and they level up through good classroom behaviour. As they level up they gain awesome powers like being able to eat in class, leaving the class room for two minutes and five minutes extra to do an exam.
In the end the teacher can customize that, but the end goal is that through the game play the students can gain these abilities that normally they wouldn’t be allowed to get in real life. So in a way they become superheroes in real life. The flip side to this is that they can loose hit points and die in the game. They have to work as a team and their team-mates must help and heal them so there is some collaboration there to help kids learn to work in a team.
We are using many of the elements that make video games really addictive, it also provides immediate feedback and helps form relationships between players. We apply all of that to the classroom to make learning addictive and really foster engagement.
What has been your biggest influence in making this game?
I am a huge gamer myself, I have been accused of working too much but I still find time to play all these RPG’s including Fallout, Diablo, World of Warcaft and Final Fantasy. You name it and I’ve played it.
Classcraft really mimics those mechanics that make role-playing games really successful. In the modern games such as World of Warcraft when you perform raid instances you need to have all the right components in your team in order to succeed, basically power, support and defence and our game is built around this mechanic.
I see this is a good way to be productive and scratch the MMO itch all at once.
That’s absolutely right (laughs).
What’s the age group for this game?
Because the games content and subject are so fluid they can be applied to any classroom. Parents are even using it at home to help with chores for their kids. The game is being used in 2000 classrooms in an age range from 8 to 20. Initially we were targeting teens but its grown a lot larger than that.
I know you have the game in two thousand classrooms but beyond that what’s your end game? ( excuse the pun)
We are based in Montreal and are currently funded by the Canadian Government. We did our Beta in February, launched in August and now we have 75,00 users over 52 countries and in seven languages, so we are truly global.
Moving forward we have an IOS app and we are working on finishing an Android one at the moment. We are going to stream line certain systems and give the teachers the ability to put resources and links online and gamify those resources and systems. So when kids go and check out those resources they gain points in the game, because that’s the current problem with these platforms that teachers update, kids simply don’t go, so now we are giving the kids a reason to visit them and making the work the teachers do more worth while.
After that we will be expanding on the games already varied features, further down the line we intend to develop a younger version for younger kids aged between 5 – 8, where we will scale back a lot of the details and less complicated rules, for instance in the main game your characters experience points can go up to 12,000 but the average five year old can cannot count that high. Beyond that, further language and country expansion is definitely on the horizon.
If a someone wanted to get access to your game how would they go about doing that?
Basically a teacher can sign up for free, we have a free version and a subscription version, which is one dollar per student, per year.
One final question, almost as important as the rest of them, what class would you be then?
I would probably choose Mage, low hit points, easy to be killed but you have amazing powers.
A great idea, helping kids learn and lets face it that may be a challenge but one that’s always worth doing, for more information you can check out their official website at classcraft.com
Editor in Chief: David