Presented by Intel
Immersed Games is an early-stage edtech (educational technology) startup unlike any other, the brainchild of a diehard MMORPG player and PhD candidate Lindsey Tropf, born in the wake of a World-of-Warcrafttriggered epiphany.
And suddenly Tropf found herself the founder and CEO of a game company.
The WoW moment
“I had been a pretty hardcore gamer myself, but not into game development at all,” Tropf says. “I was working on more an educator path, but I realized the immense power games have for learning while playing World of Warcraft one day.”
In the midst of a game session, she turned to her husband and asked where to find something, Tropf recalls. “When he rattled off the right character, in the right city, on the right continent of the game, it was then that I realized how much we had learned, simply through the act of play,” she says. “But while I knew so much, not much of it really mattered outside of the game world.”
She started studying that phenomenon as part of her PhD work, digging into learning theory specifically, increasingly realizing that an online game could provide the perfect model for an ultra-effective learning platform—and that this power had not yet been harnessed.
“I discovered some pretty major limitations, in my view, with the educational game market,” Tropf says. “I found that most educational games were pretty shallow. It was kind of ‘answer a math problem and you get to shoot a zombie,’ but it didn’t pull on the problem-solving that games are really amazing at.”
And she found that the few good educational games available on the shelves weren’t taking advantage of the full power of the medium. They didn’t have the depth, and breadth, and potential that Tropf knew could be tapped into to keep a kid fully immersed and learning.
And so Tyto Online was born.
“I got super excited about the possibilities and started a game company,” says Tropf. “Instead of solving problems around the lore and content I had been learning in MMOs, I wanted to do it around science and other topics,” says Tropf. What Tropf developed was a futuristic MMORPG that taps into the uniquely immersive narrative experience that all MMORPGs offer, which famously keep their players always coming back for more.
In Tyto Online, you play as a Tyto Academy student in the year 2084. The earth has been devastated, and humanity has been relocated to Ovo, a jungle planet four years’ space travel from home. As one of the best and the brightest young minds of your generation, you’ve been recruited to help the world’s foremost scientists colonize Ovo, as well as to discover the key to restoring the Earth to a habitable state. No pressure.
The game is currently in early access, with the first module—ecology—in place.
“We have sets of quests that students do, but instead of being wrapped around general problem-solving, they’re more specifically focused on ecology-oriented problem-solving, creating food webs [the natural interconnection of food chains], fixing invasive species problems, and things like that,” Tropf says. “And as players do that, they’re leveling up in ecology, and they’re unlocking more ecology skills, and they actually get to create their own ecosystem.”
The ecosystem sandbox functions in the same way that raids do in traditional MMOs, offering infinitely replayable content. And Tropf plans to continue expanding the…
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