Some time ago, I waxed philosophical on the things I have learned from video games. While the origin of this article came from a dopey poster from Hot Topic, the meat of my musings centered on the educational games of my youth. These titles were formative in my educational experience; providing a wonderful supplement to the historical texts and multiplication tables of school. From these life moments, I have come to appreciate how video games can be a strong tool in educating our youth and reinforcing the learning process.
These days, gaming technology is in the pockets and backpacks of nearly every person in the world. Laptops, smart phones, and tablets have become so mainstream, and with these devices comes an onslaught of games that aim to distract, engage, and immerse players. Educational games have endeavored to keep up with the times, creating all sorts of games to inspire young minds. Ideally, these titles would use a popular genre of play and combine it with a field of study to make a worthwhile game for all players.
From Little Worlds Interactive comes The Counting Kingdom, a game that mixes mathematics with tower defense gameplay. Players take control of a young wizard’s apprentice who must protect their castle from attacking monsters. Each turn of play, the young magician selects a group of monsters that corresponds to the spell that can be cast. The educational bit of play comes in the form of numbered spells and enemies. The apprentice has a refilling selection of three numbers that serve as spells to be cast. The waves of monsters that arrive in front of the castle also have numbers upon their scaly bellies. The player chooses a monster or group of monsters whose sum equals one of the spells at their command. Thus the monsters are destroyed and the castle is saved!
On top of the base gameplay of mathematical magic, there are potions that can be used to reduce or increase monster values, along with a spell book that can provide the player with a fresh numerical incantation to cast. The game features a very storybook art style, with cute monsters and colorful landscapes. The entire experience comes off as a sort of Plants vs. Zombies meets Number Munchers, which is certainly high praise in my circles. I would recommend this game to players looking for a fun and cerebral distraction, as well as an educational title for younger children looking to not-so-secretly enhance their math skills.
The Counting Kingdom is currently available for PC and Mac via Steam Early Access, so be sure to check it out! The game is quite fun and engaging on these platforms, and I look forward to the inevitable iOS release that will enable touch screen controls- the form in which The Counting Kingdom will truly shine brightest.