Gamifying The Classics

SecretBuilders is one of those online virtual worlds where kids can go create an avatar, buy clothing and personal items for it, and generate online currency by playing games.  In SecretBuilders in particular there is a heavy educational element, and they’re about to take it to the next level with the help of Oxford University Press.

The SecretBuilders’ “50 Great Reads Before 15” initiative will gamify such classics as Alice in Wonderland, Macbeth, Arabian Nights, Pride & Prejudice, and Don Quixote as mobile and social games.

“When it comes to mobile or social games, the only choices for kids are either chocolate fudge or chocolate-covered broccoli! We want to create games that are strawberries – experiences that are both delicious and nutritious,” said Bob Brattesani, Chief Creative Officer at SecretBuilders.

 (See Macbeth in there?  I don’t know whether that’s the only Shakespeare in the mix.)

I don’t have technical details about what they’re planning, although the press release goes on to mention a “spot the differences” game based on Alice in Wonderland.  That’s probably the bulk of the project — using the *content* from the classics, and applying it into traditional games.

They appear to be aiming big, though, with the suggestion that these new gamified classics will be available on “NOOK® by Barnes & Noble, iTunes, GooglePlay, Kindle, Blackberry AppWorld and other app stores.”  In other words, everything.  Now, see, the developer in me sees this and immediately thinks “They’ve grabbed onto one of those pre-existing frameworks that works on all platforms, and they’re just going to jam their content into it.”  Phonegap, maybe? Appcelerator?

What do you think?  Intrigued?  I’m always optimistic about this stuff, but I have to be realistic as well. I’ve covered lots and lots and lots of Shakespeare games here over the years.  Most often with fewer press releases and buzzwords.  Normally a game comes out and we play it and then we decide.  I do not let my kids use such online services yet, so I can’t use them as my test audience.  I think I’m going to wait and see on this one and hope that I scan score some preview copies once they start churning out actual apps.
Disclosure – Greg Titus, one of the investors in SecretBuilders, is a friend of mine. Although he forwarded me the press release, he has no knowledge of anything that I’m writing here.  Once I post this I do plan on pestering him to see whether I can get any sort of inside scoop or maybe even an interview.

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