Multiplication Games Will Save the World

Multiplication games will save the world.  Well, not JUST multiplication games, but educational games in general.  Remember that scene from The Matrix where Trinity learns how to fly a helicopter in 5 seconds flat by using a perfect virtual simulator?  Well, it might take more than 5 seconds, but the technology for teaching people in such an immersive, effective environment already exists—we just don’t take advantage of it.

As a civilization, we’ll spend billions and billions to immerse kids in all kinds of unbelievably elaborate environments with no purpose whatsoever.  Just imagine what would happen if we invested a billion dollars into the world’s greatest math game instead of Grand Theft Auto.  Instead of accomplishing diddly-squat , we would have created a nation of kids who know math!  Millions of kids could be significantly smarter and more confident.  We have the technology.  We’re already spending the dollars.  We just need to redirect it into more beneficial products.

“Can’t be done,” some people will say.  Ridiculous.  We’ve already proved it can be done with our multiplication game, Timez Attack.  It takes time and effort, but obviously you can make an educational game just as engaging as an entertainment-only game if you really want to.  In fact, educational games can be even more entertaining because they include real achievement.  Think about it–as enjoyable as Madden NFL is, it’s still not as entertaining as the real thing.

Even if you don’t buy that argument, educational games have another built-in advantage.  The kids already HAVE  to learn this stuff.  They can either do it in a boring, painful, old-school way, or they can do it in a high-end, world-class video game.  The “shooting fish in a barrel” analogy comes to mind when you think about such an easy decision.

So what’s stopping us?  Well, there’s the “Edutainment” cynicism accumulated from a generation or two of pathetic educational software, parental apathy, the fragmented nature of the school system, and the decidedly low-tech culture at the huge educational publishing houses.  But in the end, it’s just dollars.  The gaming industry just needs to realize what a massive, untapped market educational games represent.  Once they realize what a gold mine they’re sitting on, we’ll finally see an educational revolution equal in scope to the industrial revolution.

It’s going to happen sooner or later.  Let’s get with the program and make it sooner.

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15 Responses to Multiplication Games Will Save the World

  1. ian haack says:

    I love this game.

  2. Arianna says:

    me too it awsome

  3. i really want to play this game

  4. chistabella says:

    This game is fun!

  5. Matthew says:

    I love this game. I want a coupon code so that I can buy another version.

  6. Daddy says:

    When do you plan to update or change the school version of Timez Attack?

  7. thing says:

    soon you should make another game or an upgrade!

  8. Jana says:

    I would like to thank you for teaching my 4-year-old multiplication in May of 2011. I just gave him the free game and the multiplication table and he learned the facts. As a reward, I eventually upgraded the game and we have never been the same. We are planning to get your other games, because your product is just so much fun and it is an education at best. I am convinced that learning and practicing math facts with TimezAttack develops and ensures solid math skills that will take one a long way into an academic and professional success. Our gratitude to the TimezAttack team is immeasurable.

  9. kamyiah says:

    this is sooo cool, awesome, and fun.

  10. katelyn says:

    i want to play know how do i regishter

  11. Tom says:

    timez attack is great!

  12. M Ward says:

    My grandson finds these games very frustrating. He feels that small errors restart a whole level. “It makes me start all over again when I fail something!” he says, “You should be ashamed of yourself.” I think these games are essentially just drill-and-kill. In the addition and subtraction portions particularly, there is no time for any conceptual thinking. It’s strictly memorization.

  13. Ben Harrison says:

    M Ward,

    Great questions and comments. Other folks have had a similar perception, and I’m grateful for the chance to address them:

    1. “It makes me start all over again when I fail something!” A small error does not restart a whole level. If a student misses one fact, they review one fact. That’s it. But we don’t want ANY student to even FEEL like that’s happening, so let’s break down what’s actually taking place.

    If a student is fluent with a fact, they will “know” the answer in less than 1 – 2 seconds, allowing them plenty of time to accurately input the answer. But if a student is only partially fluent, it will take them a while to “remember” the answer, forcing them to rush to input the answer, and leaving them much more likely to make a typing mistake.

    In that scenario they’re clearly not fluent, but they may FEEL like they knew the answer and are being unfairly punished for a simple typing error, but the reality is that their mastery is still developing. Timez Attack very good at judging between a typing error and a lack of mastery.

    But even in the case of a pure typing error, the program will simply review the “missed” fact and bring them right back. As part of the review, the missed fact will be integrated and tested along with other facts because reviewing just one fact is a completely short-term exercise and doesn’t actually develop memorization. But even that review is not wasted because while reviewing that fact, we’re also reinforcing any other facts that are borderline.

    Mastering all the facts is deeply challenging. Only 12% of students master it by 5th-grade. Even after 24 to 30 hours of teacher instruction, the average student only masters 59% of their facts nationwide. I suppose it makes sense that some students would get a bit frustrated while working their way towards such a vital accomplishment, but we’re doing everything we can to remove even the smallest obstacles for students, so thank you for raising the discussion point. If even one student is hitting a stumbling-block, we need to improve.

    #2 “Just drill-and-kill.” This is a curiously derogatory term. Comprehension needs to come before Fluency. But fluency with basic facts will greatly enhance future comprehension of higher-order facts. For example, an educator recently told us that they only want students to memorize facts up to the 5×5 because for 7 x 5 they can simply pull up 2 x 5 and 5 x 5 and then add them together. Well, you CAN do that, but you’re going to be able to learn higher-order concepts much more efficiently if you don’t HAVE to constantly interrupt the learning process to stop and make basic calculations. Successful students need both comprehension AND fluency. To steal a silly sports metaphor, a football player needs to know the offense, and he CAN just hop on one leg, but he’ll be vastly more effective running on both legs. Fluency with single digit facts really needs to be a bare minimum. Kids need to know the alphabet and they need to know their basic facts.

    #3. “There is no time for any conceptual thinking. It’s strictly memorization.” Actually, we do a pretty cool job of the conceptual side. For example, 4 + 6 shows 4 balls and six balls, then shows them joining together to add up to 10. Then we reverse-engineer that into fact families of 10 – 4 = 6, starting with 10 balls and subtracting 6 balls from it, etc.

    Now, we very quickly get to a point where we ARE focused on recall and that is absolutely the emphasis of the program. You’re entirely right that we are supplemental at this point.

    I’ll also throw out that we LOVE to improve and are working furiously on some very cool enhancements for addition.