A SMALL team of city designers is to take on the might of the biggest names in digital entertainment after a video game they made to help children with maths was shortlisted for a top international award.
TigerFace Games, based at Edinburgh University’s Appleton Tower, is in the running for the Best Learning App for Tablet prize at next month’s iKids Awards in New York, where it will line up alongside the likes of Disney Interactive, Nickelodeon and the Jim Henson Company.
The nomination is another feather in the cap of the Capital’s flourishing video games scene after the record-breaking sales success of Rockstar North’s Grand Theft Auto series.
TigerFace, established only 18 months ago, scooped the nomination for Cosmic Reactor – a collection of collaborative mini-games aimed at boosting children’s skills in maths and numeracy.
And the four-strong team said the honour was only the start of what they predicted would be a period of stellar growth as teachers clamour to test the games on eager pupils.
Managing director Kate Ho hailed the shortlisting as a “fantastic” boost and said: “We’re the first and, as far as I know, the only company that specialises in collaborative learning, where you have two or more children on the same iPad.
“It’s so important because it forces critical thinking and problem solving – there’s that element where the kids have to explain things to each other.”
The games in Cosmic Reactor encourage children to compete as they race against time to solve a range of numerical and mathematical challenges of varying complexity.
Aimed at youngsters aged five to 11, the tasks include counting exercises and sums, as well as more demanding problems such as working through simple equations.
“We’ve been tracking the growth in iPads in schools and more generally for a while,” said Ms Ho. “As they are collaborative, these are games that cannot be played on a PC. They’re unique to the iPad and take real advantage of it.”
The success of TigerFace, which recently signed deals with major distributors in the US and south-east Asia, has impressed bosses at Edinburgh University.
Colin Adams, director of commercialisation at the school of informatics, said: “This is great for Edinburgh. They’re a great role model for other new start-ups in the area.”