Teaching children how to read by teaching them how to solve.
The video game world is as vast as the music and film industry combined, with sales revenue of new games expected to top Hollywood opening weekends in the near future. The downside to this, is that children are coming into the market as young as 3, with hardly any targeted software. Instead they end up playing games aimed at older and far more developed minds. The 2-10 year old bracket needs targeted apps that not only include children into the gaming experience, but also draw them away from the limited offerings of “kiss kiss bang bang” fare aimed at the pre-teen market.
This is what Nick Marks had in mind when he began developing Coop Phonics. He added “Parents feel good about themselves when they play with their kids. It is magic when parents play the game with their kids. It just feels right. It is an experience that parents and kids haven’t had before, they eat it up”.
Nick is no stranger to the game community; being Lead Artist at Activision and fleshed out such varied worlds as Shrek, True Crime and Kung-Fu Panda. It seemed a world away from what he had in mind for the educational cooperative learning app, Coop Phonics.
Nick became a parent, and like all parents he constantly asked himself, is working 12 hour stretches at a huge gaming corporation really what I want any more? Clearly it wasn’t and he decided to move laterally within the industry, to education. As Academic Director of Video Game Art and Programming at Art Institute of Los Angeles California.
Teaching children how to create video game worlds rather than watching them play his own, the buzz urged him onto making his own kids educational game. And the seed of Coop Phonics was born.
He believes that Cooperative play between children and parents at the crucial early stage is vital to firstly cementing a good positive outline of how games can be, and also inputting positive knowledge rather than simple task solving. He is so convinced by his idea that he feels schools should be using this software.
“The real game play of Coop is facilitating the parent and child interaction through sharing, laughing, and learning with each other. This interaction creates a social learning experience that is weirdly revolutionary”. Says Nick
The iPad/iPhone app itself is a vibrant colourful world where colour and sound is almost ramped up to a level of pure wonder, a place where a child feels at home. And with parents playing alongside, can find a centred gaming experience. With its chunky cartoonish graphics and captivating story, the game draws you into a learning world where the game is also the teacher.
Guiding them through the basics of phonic principles until reading becomes second nature. Both you and your child will be the heroes. Help your child rescue all the the animals from the clutches of the bad Red Witch.
To save the animals you must teach the animals and your child to read. Coop Phonics creates an environment that makes your child want to learn to read.
“ I’ve seen kids go back to the app, again and again, even without the parent, because they remember the fun of the initial experience and the good feeling of playing with the parent”
Coop Phonics is the first in a line of games Nick has planned, and as he does ALL of the work himself, coding to graphics, digital media is hard but rewarding work. Nick had input from his 5 year old daughter, saying “I thought if I could make phonics cool, I could make anything cool”. As the game is a hit with parents and children alike it seems as though Nick (and his little girl) were correct.
Coop Phonics is available in iTunes for $1.99.