Tyto Online Aims to Educate Through MMORPG

An educational online role-playing game from Gainesville, Florida start-up Immersed Games will teach players the same subjects they learn in school.

Similar to World of Warcraft, the game is a massively multiplayer online roleplaying game (MMORPG), where thousands of players can interact to complete quests cooperatively.  However, the focus of this game is on solving educational puzzles.

“We’re really trying to expand what an educational video game is,” said CEO Lindsey Tropf.

Geared toward teenagers, the game, Tyto, is set in the future with the evacuation of Earth.  The player is admitted to Tyto Academy on a distant planet where he or she is required to help scientists solve a myriad of problems by learning as much as they can across multiple educational topics in order to restore Earth to a point that would allow the human race to live there once more.

The first module has players in a biodome, trying to find out why ants are acting oddly and then dying.  Players will quickly discover a fungus is turning the ants into zombies.  When a quest is completed, real life photos and information about how these processes happen on Earth will be shown so the player can see how it really happens.

Other missions involve looking at plants on other planets to determine their usability, learning about ecosystems as they play in order to create a fully functional biodome.  Players gain “levels” allowing them access to more complicated missions, writes Matt Espineli for Two Dash Stash.

The company plans to continue to release packs of mini-expansions that will contain new worlds, features, and subjects to learn about.

According to Tropf, other educational games in existence are a bit like “chocolate-covered broccoli”, taking educational material (the broccoli) and making it appear nice in a game (the chocolate), writes Rebecca Kravetz for website The Alligator.

“Answering a math problem to shoot a zombie, it’s fun and novel for a moment, but it isn’t true, deep learning and doesn’t teach the concepts,” Tropf said. “(It) just helps students practice them.”

The company is funding the project through the online fundraising platform Kickstarter.  With 12 days left, it has fulfilled 76% of their $50,000 goal through 137 supporters.  The project will only receive the money if the entire goal is met.

It has not yet been decided how much the game will cost.  Most MMORPG games are offered with a monthly subscription of $10-15.  Others come free of charge through corporate advertising.  The company is also considering offering a basic free version with the option to subscribe for access to actual school curriculum, writes Carl McKinney for The Gainesville Sun.

“We’ve got several options,” Tropf said. “We’re going to have to play around with the business model.”

Immersed Games is hoping to release a beta test of the game later this summer, with the hope of hitting Tier II Closed Beta by August 2015.