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Posts by Derek Lomas

Educational Games for a $10 Computer: News from Indian Student Teams

What would be the social impact of an educational computer that only cost $10?

Last October, I introduced the PopTech community to an organization that is trying to answer that question. Playpower.org is an open-source community that is helping to make educational games available for “radically affordable” computers—including a $10 computer that is already widely available in many developing countries. The 5 minute PopTech talk helps describe the educational potential of open-source learning games—and explains the improbable story of how a computer can be sold for only $10!

Just this past December, I traveled to Hyderabad, India to conduct a two week educational game design workshop for top university students in India.

Playpower workshop in Hyderabad
Image courtesy of Playpower.org.

Using IDEO’s Human Centered Design Toolkit and Playpower’s unique game design curriculum, the students learned to design new educational games to support the needs of low income families in India. In order to make the games engaging and relevant to the target audience, the students created games based on familiar Hindu stories, including the adventures of Hanuman—a deity with immense powers who takes the form of a monkey.

Playpower Hanuman game
Image courtesy of Playpower.org.

Kishan Patel, an engineering student at DAIICT (The Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Infomation and Communication Technology) followed up on the workshop by founding a working group at his own university. There, he leads a team of students who are working on completing the games. They are also helping to conduct formal field studies, in order to assess whether the games are fun and effective for the groups we are targeting.

Playpower Hanuman game
Image courtesy of Playpower.org.

To learn more, check out playpower.org.

Also, more specific descriptions of the games and source code are available here.

The games prototyped at the workshop:

Hanuman: Quiz Adventure – Quiz game shows are popular in India and this quiz game challenges the intellectual power of the whole family to help a young Hanuman fly all the way to the sun.

Hanuman: Typing Warrior – Typing is a skill that can help expand economic opportunities. In this game, players use their typing skills to help progress Hanuman through a series of challenges in order to help win a war against the evil Lord Ravena.

Mosquito SWAT Team – Malaria is one of the greatest public health threats in India. In this game, important information about preventing malaria is embedded in an addictive set of mini-games that invariably involve killing lots and lots of mosquitoes.