In one of my day jobs I do something involving education, large public institutions and web stuff and a while back I thought it might be an excellent idea to have a go at designing some cool educational toys. Learnin' 'n' Fun! At the same time! omg! And so forth!

The idea was to build the kind of thing you could use to squeeze knowledge into people's heads without them complaining. Y'see, it's never a good thing to trick people into learning. If your educational toy/game/experience relies too much on hiding the information behind the fun then the big reveal at the end – "Ha, I tricked you into learning something!" – will leave the player feeling cheated and not change their attitude towards learning. If, on the other hand, you try and push the ideas you want to get across at the expense of the core game mechanic, you'll end up with a bored user. My opinion is that you've got to be up front about the learning. You've got to say to the user "Look, this is learning and it's fun. No tricks here, it's exactly what it looks like". As for getting it to appeal in the first place, I find that very few things can beat extremely cute cartoons.

To that end, I present my first dabble in interactive educational whaddyamacallits: The Elementals, a fun periodic table where every element has its own unique personality.

The Elementals

It's available as an iPhone app initially but I'll be venturing into the Android Marketplace soon and putting it online as a web app.

Available on the App Store