Soda has been experimenting with playful learning and working since its inception, and games are a huge part of that approach.
Core games products in the Sodaplay stable include Sodaconstructor, Newtoon and Sodarace, which have utilised the best in gameplay mechanics to bring about greater engagement and more effective learning.
Bespoke games such as Sex Bots for Channel 4 and CTTV for Tower Hamlets Education Business Partnership incorporate interesting mechanics such as artificial intelligence and interactive comic strips to engage and educate players.
In 2011, Soda was joined by Kirsten Campbell-Howes, an expert in educational games design. Her focus has been on reinvigorating Soda’s existing portfolio of games for new platforms, and in developing new games for clients. Currently, we’re working on a game to promote the British Design exhibition at the V&A museum, as well as a brain training game for senior citizens.
Kirsten also runs and hosts #LEGup, the UK’s only meetup group for educational games members. The group meets once a month to showcase new products and carry out discussions and workshops.
Soda has just finished post user testing modifications to six exhibits for Mishkat Interactive Centre for Atomic and Renewable Energy in Riyadh. It is the first Science exploration center in Saudi Arabia’s capital and aims to get Saudi youth involved in the thinking about the scientific, technological and economic issues behind their country’s role as a major energy producer and to investigate alternative energy sources.
It’s been a frantically busy summer, with most of our time taken up by projects for Stratford Sports Day (AKA The Capital of England, in the year between 2011 and 2013).
Fiddian has been testing his electronics skills to the limit by creating a series of sculptural LED totems, which are running some of Julian’s clever software to display beautiful patterns of light.
Our work on the Truce Arts project is ongoing. Fiddian has been working with groups of animation students at Middlesex University and media students in the Headstarters group to create digital artworks around the theme of Olympics Truce. Mary, our new intern, has been working on the social media aspect of Truce, and helping us to gather public submissions to the project. You can see the results here and here.*
The hugely successful V&A British Design show closed a few days ago, and we’ve had some amazing feedback on our work. The team from Media Molecule all took a day out to see our Little Big Planet exhibit, Sony also visited from their Liverpool offices to see Wipeout, and Fiddian was interviewed by Square Enix about his design for the Tomb Raider exhibit. The show is now going on tour.
Kirsten has begun some research for a London university on improving links between edtech startups and academia. If you’re interested in taking part, send her an email.
Fiddian has been busy at various events, including Technology: Disruption and Convergence at City Hall. Brain-straining IoT strategies with the TSB in a two-day residential workshop in Loughborough. Doing similar stuff for the Connected Digital Economy Catapult has been challenging and fun. He’s also busy making plans for Makers Guild, which we’ll get around to blogging about soon.
*The animated gif illustrating this post is part of the Truce work, and was created by Andon, an Animation Student at Middlesex University.
Our Board Games Special proved to be a popular and inspiring event. As a primarily digital games maker, I found the focus on board and card games very interesting, and the discussions around how they do and don’t differ quite useful.
Kirsten organised and hosted another meetup for London’s educational apps developers at the Centre for Creative Collaboration. February’s focus was on ‘strategies for success’ in the battlezone that is the educational software market.
In April 2011, Kirsten set up #LEGup, a group for those making educational games and apps, thinking about making them or just interested in the application of new technology to education. The aim was to link people involved in or interested in getting involved in making educational games and apps.
With the help of funding from Futurelab Soda developed Newtoon to advanced prototype level.
Tower Hamlets Education Business Partnership asked us to develop an interactive learning game about the City of London for 12- and 13-year-olds living in areas surrounding the City.
Soda developed three courseware projects for London Business School as well as running a series of informal Java workshops for LBS developers.
Developed for the Channel 4 website, Sex Bots was an adult-targeted game in which users created promiscuous automata to compete in a pansexual play-scape.
Our playful interfaces enable complex behaviour to emerge from typically simple rules and building blocks. This underlying simplicity makes for efficient systems and compact interfaces that are ideally suited for migration to mobile devices. Sodaconstructor was one of the first of our products to make this transition.
Originally commissioned by the online bank Egg, Loyalty was a Customer Relationship Management training game used to focus CRM training sessions.
Play is central to our philosophy; it fosters an experimental and uninhibited approach to creativity. Our playing created sodaconstructor, an online construction kit for building animated models, winner of the 2001 Interactive Arts BAFTA Award.
Live on the BBC Education website since 1997, Mapamatic Desert Challenge is a Java game designed to teach basic maths skills to secondary school pupils.