Share this project

Done

Share this project

Done
Using gaming to fight childhood obesity one Nerd Grapple at a time. 
Build rockets fueled with food. Better nutrition = better launch.
Using gaming to fight childhood obesity one Nerd Grapple at a time. Build rockets fueled with food. Better nutrition = better launch.
181 backers pledged $26,584 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

Houston, We Have Spinach! project video thumbnail
Replay with sound
Play with
sound

$26,584

181

"Houston, We Have Spinach!" (HWHS) is a 2D rocket building game designed to promote nutrition literacy. To succeed, players must learn which foods contain high levels of certain nutrients and combine them to create the ultimate "rocket fuel."

Players start out with enough money to build a simple "solid-fuel rocket." Using the Nerd-Grapple(tm), players load food from a truck onto the rocket. At first just simply mastering the grapple enough to pick up anything is an achievement for the player. Later, as their skills improve they will be tasked with "cherry picking" the best food items from the pile, using the knowledge they've gained along the way to understand what foods are most useful. 

Each successful rocket flight earns the player additional money. These funds can be used to unlock new, better rocket parts or field experiments and equipment. The equipment ranges from simple recycling bins, which allow them to exchange food items, to sophisticated machines that reveal specific nutrient properties of each food.

At the initial level, only calories are important in determining the rocket's performance. As they progress to higher performance rockets, they are challenged to fuel the rocket in different ways, which in turn encourages them to learn the particular nutrient qualities of the foods offered.

At the highest level, they begin to unlock parts to build the liquid-fuel distillery. This is necessary to achieve the greatest distances in space. Once built, they must balance nutrients to avoid adding ballast to the ship, and in doing so they can go on to achieve ever greater feats in space, unlocking distant galaxies, and more.

Milestones, such as discovery of new planets and other celestial bodies, unlock mini-games (a doughnut-blasting-asteroids-type game for instance) as well as feedback items such as new food trucks which provide better or more varied food.

shopping for rocket parts
shopping for rocket parts
rocket assembly
rocket assembly
selecting food to fuel rocket
selecting food to fuel rocket
loading fuel into rocket
loading fuel into rocket
liquid fuel rocket requires balanced nutrients
liquid fuel rocket requires balanced nutrients
mission control
mission control
out in space, discovering new planets
out in space, discovering new planets

Childhood obesity rates are rising around the world. Here in the U.S. it’s well documented and widely agreed that young people are in a health crisis. Today, about one in three American kids and teens is overweight or obese. Childhood obesity is now the No. 1 health concern among U.S. parents, topping drug abuse and smoking.

Contributing to this crisis is a lack of education. Mixed messages from government and a profit-driven food industry aren't always in the best interests of our children's health. Often even parents don’t understand what’s making their kids overweight and why, despite their best efforts, they can’t take the weight off.

Nutrition literacy is a small, but solid first step toward healthier kids. HWHS strives to teach kids the nutritional facts about various foods without preaching or scolding -- or even mentioning obesity and wellness at all.

Games have the power to engage, to teach and change behaviors. We’re using a tool that kids love to help educate them about food, plus have fun along the way. In our app, Houston We Have Spinach, kids will build a rocket and fuel it with food. Like their own bodies, the better the nutrition is going in, the better the rocket will fly.

Target Audience: Kids 8-12 years of age and their parents. Part of our development process is necessarily kid-testing the game both for fun and comprehension.

Language support: The initial release will be available in English and Spanish. 

Platform: Our goal is to make HWHS as accessible as possible. To that end we have designed it to run on a wide variety of platforms. The initial releases will be for Windows PC, Mac, iOS and Android (both phone and tablet).  The 2D graphics are not particularly demanding and thus it will run on many older devices and computers with modest specs. It has been designed from the outset to support keyboard, mouse, and touch input.

We need Kickstarter funding to complete the art, animation and sound assets, finish programming, complete balance testing, perform curriculum review and QA. There are also some miscellaneous expenses including licenses we will need to obtain, as well as legal and other professional services. 

Here is a breakdown of how the funds will be distributed, assuming only our minimum goal is met.

HWHS is roughly 25% complete. At this point we have demo builds running on all the target platforms. We have laid out the basic logic and data architecture for the game and its assets. The remaining task list includes fleshing out the 2D assets, programming (especially the mini-games), bug-squashing and kid-testing.

Bo Monroe is our creative director, overseeing all things inspired, imagined and artistic. He went to art school in Chicago to learn to paint and along the way met an Apple II. It was love at first byte. Inspired by his hero Woz, Bo taught himself programming, starting with assembly language and then moving on to the alphabet soup of higher languages. He cites his dad and  HC Westermann as his greatest artistic influences.

Mary Romolino is our fearless leader and uses her years of business leadership to bring our team’s vision to life. She also keeps everyone on task, is our public face, and heads up our sales efforts. When she’s not bossing everyone around she’s probably thinking about it while on the bike trail just outside of our office or enjoying a sun-downer glass of wine with her husband.

Dr. Eric B. Bauman makes sure that our games are driven by sound educational theory and science. He’s an award-winning educational game designer and an expert in game-based learning, plus he has a PhD in curriculum and instruction. Yep, he’s our team’s official egghead. Did we mention that he’s also an RN, paramedic, firefighter and was a competitive powerlifter and Strongman? Seriously.

Michael Flaherty is our programming, music and sound lead. He creates music and sound effects with a wide array of synths and music software plus funny voices and his trusty $20 Casio keyboard (which doubles as a calculator). He collaborates on the design and the code of our games and makes sure everything functions smoothly and stays bug-free. Either that or he’s downtown showing off his mad karaoke skills!

Tarah Hiemes is the newest Acme Nerd. Currently working towards an Animation degree at Madison College, she brings illustration, concepting and animation skills to the team. An avid outdoors person, she enjoys biking and kayaking -- and also pumping quarters into pinball machines.

Risks and challenges

The task list for completing HWHS is currently approximately 25% done. While we feel the path to completion is relatively straightforward with any project there are always surprises and setbacks. Real-world testing with the target age group both for fun and subject comprehension will no doubt reveal areas that need refinement or even rethinking.

We pledge to keep the community abreast of developments as our work progresses.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    INITIAL OFFERING
    Show your support and we'll add your initials (limit of 3 letters) in the credits as a supporter.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Limited 4 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    UPPER ATMOSPHERE:
    Name in game credits as a supporter.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    10 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    SHOOTING STAR:
    Houston, We Have Spinach! (HWHS) mobile (iOS or Android) game + name in game credits as a supporter.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    24 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  4. Reward no longer available

    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    EARLY BACKER SPECIAL
    The first 20 backers will get Houston, We Have Spinach! in the platform of their choice: iOS, Android, Mac or PC and your name in the game credits.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Reward no longer available 20 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    STELLAR SUPPORTER:
    Houston, We Have Spinach! (HWHS) desktop game (Mac, PC) + name in game credits as a supporter.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    22 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    MILKY WAY MATCH:
    All of the above + 2 mobile (iOS or Android) or desktop (PC, Mac) copies of our game given to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County (BBBS). Games only will be given, no funds will be transferred to Big Brothers Big Sisters.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    20 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    THAT'S A FINE SPACE SUIT
    Acme Nerd Games (ANG) T-shirt + name in credits as a supporter + HWHS mobile (iOS or Android) + HWHS desktop (Mac, PC) + 2 mobile or desktop games to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    9 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    INTERGALACTIC NERD BEANIE:
    Acme Nerd Games (ANG) logo propellor beanie + name in credits as a supporter + HWHS mobile (iOS or Android) + HWHS desktop (Mac, PC) + 2 mobile or desktop games to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    26 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    ART BOOK:
    This hardcover, 4-color book with approx. 20-pages will include concept art from Houston, We Have Spinach!

    This is a stand alone reward and does not roll-up into higher level rewards.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    1 backer
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  10. Select this reward

    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    GREATER GALAXY:
    All of the above + 5 HWHS mobile (iOS or Android) or HWHS desktop (Mac, PC) to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County. Games only will be given, no funds will be transferred to Big Brothers Big Sisters.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    7 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  11. Select this reward

    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    GET IN THE GAME COMET:
    Name your very own in-game comet + name in credits, HWHS mobile (iOS or Android), HWHS desktop (Mac, PC), ANG T-shirt, ANG beanie, 5 games to BBBS. Remember, when naming your comet, nothing trademarked or naughty.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    6 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  12. Select this reward

    Pledge $400 or more About $400

    GET IN THE GAME SATELLITE:
    Name a satellite that orbits our game's galaxy + name in credits, HWHS mobile (iOS or Android), HWHS desktop (Mac, PC), ANG T-shirt, ANG beanie, 5 copies to BBBS. Remember, nothing trademarked or naughty when choosing a name for your satellite.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    1 backer
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  13. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    GET IN THE GAME UFO:
    Be the owner of an unidentified flying object in our game + name in credits, HWHS mobile (iOS or Android), HWHS desktop (Mac, PC), ANG T-shirt, ANG beanie, 5 games to BBBS. Remember, nothing trademarked or naughty when choosing a name for your UFO.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    4 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  14. Select this reward

    Pledge $750 or more About $750

    GET IN THE GAME PLANET:
    Join our game's solar system by naming a planet + name in credits, HWHS mobile (iOS or Android), HWHS desktop (Mac, PC), ANG T-shirt, ANG beanie, 5 games to BBBS. Remember, nothing trademarked or naughty when naming your planet.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    1 backer
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  15. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    FOOD TRUCK OWNER:
    Work with our team to name one of 3 food trucks + name in credits, HWHS mobile (iOS or Android), HWHS desktop (Mac, PC), ANG T-shirt, ANG beanie, 5 games to BBBS. Remember, nothing trademarked or naughty when naming your truck.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 1 backer
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  16. Select this reward

    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    IT'S YOUR VERY OWN SPACE STATION:
    Work with our team to name one of 3 mini-games + name in credits, HWHS mobile (iOS or Android), HWHS desktop, ANG T-shirt, ANG beanie, 5 copies to BBBS. Remember, nothing trademarked or naughty when naming your mini-game.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 0 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  17. Select this reward

    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    AURORA BOREALIS:
    Join Mary & Bo at their Lake Superior Cabin in Upper Michigan. Accommodations for up to 4 people for 5 days. Transportation not included.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Limited 0 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.

Funding period

- (30 days)