What Am I Funding?
Spirit Lake: The Game is web-based 3D video game that combines adventure gaming with math learning.
What Does 7 Generation Games Do?
We make math practical. Useful. You want to save your entire village from an illness? You better go get the right number of herbs and bring them back. Oh, and bring your knife with you in case you need to fight off that bear.
See how we just slipped some math skills in there? Even more, it also incorporates historically accurate Native American culture and traditions.
Just as important, Spirit Lake: The Game -- our first product in what we have mapped out to be a seven-game series covering multiple grade levels and math concepts -- has a demonstrated record of raising math scores for children performing below grade-level. This aspect of the game is what is really important to us.
Yes, it’s great to have a cool game that students want to play, but a game that students want to play that actually brings underperforming students up to the academic level they’re supposed to be at: That is the kind of thing that will revolutionize the way math is taught.
From an educator standpoint, the game provides a valuable tool that engages students while simultaneously teaching mathematics. Each student’s progress is tracked and charted, allowing teachers to see which concepts both individuals and the class as a whole are grasping and which concepts individuals and classes are presenting challenges.
From a student standpoint, the game is fun. We’re not just saying that because it sounds good. Our data backs up this claim.
What We've Got So Far
Currently, we have a six-level beta version of the game aimed at teaching fourth and fifth grade math that is being piloted in multiple reservation classrooms.
What We'll Do With $20,000
- Animate an additional six levels (Completion date: Sept. 2013.)
We've got our designers and developers lined up and ready to get to work.
- Write the game manual and documentation
A user-friendly instructional manual for students. Supplemental resources for teachers. Technical support documentation. All of those items falls under here.
- Cover additional game design expenses
This refers to all the costs that fall under the "everything else" umbrella- from purchasing artwork to enlisting Dakota-English translators to covering the costs of analyzing game data.
What We'll Do If We Exceed Our $20,000 Goal
- Purchase additional computers for student use.
We currently have 12 laptop computers that we have purchased for students to use to play our game in the reservation classrooms where we are piloting Spirit Lake: The Game. More funding would allow us to purchase additional computers, allowing more students and more schools to benefit from game.
- Develop additional game levels
The final version of Spirit Lake: The Game will have 20 levels, including multiple side quests. We are currently looking at a December 2014 commercialization date. This is when we expect to make “Spirit Lake: The Game” available for purchase by schools, school districts and individual license holders. For every additional $20,000 we receive beyond the initial crowdsourced $20,000, we can accelerate our production cycle by about six weeks.
- Expand to additional grade levels.
Our current game focuses on fourth- and fifth-grade level math concepts. One of our long term goals is to have a product (more likely products) aimed at grades four through eight.
Serving Native American Students
The American Indian population is not only one of the fastest growing minority groups in the United States, but is also the lowest performing when it comes to math. However, there are almost no resources developed specifically for these students or their school systems.
We created this game in the hope of narrowing – ideally even closing – that gap. Not only are we an educational technology company, but we have more than 20 years experience working on the reservation and a number of the our staffers are enrolled tribal members.
Our game draws up our resources and staff knowledge, incorporating cultural aspects into the game.
So Is Spirit Lake: The Game Just for Native American Students?
No. That's the short answer. But we get this question a lot.
The game will be available to any district, school, class or individual who wants to purchase a license.
We did initially develop this game with Native American students in mind. As mentioned above, we have extensive ties to the reservation and we saw that American Indian students were severely underperforming when it came to math. So we created this game as a way to engage these kids when it came to math learning.
As we had hoped when we set out to develop Spirit Lake: The Game, the kids loved it and their math scores improved.
But something we didn't expect also happened along the way. This game that we'd created for what we thought was a smaller -- but albeit substantial -- market seemed to have a lot more marketability than we'd imagined.
Our CEO had made a few mentions of Spirit Lake: The Game on her blog and social media. We'd piloted it in a couple of schools. We hadn't done any real marketing, but word began to spread.
We started getting inquiries from schools and after-school programs in Native American communities across the country asking to be test sites or even just asking to purchase licenses outright.
Then we had non-Indian schools and after-school programs inquiring about how they too could get our game into their classrooms. After all, not only does it teach math, but also combines a social studies component. Our depiction of the Dakota (Sioux) at the time of first contact is historically and culturally accurate, incorporating aspects of tribal life, native language and natural environment.
We have also identified a market for this game among home-schooled students.
Other Questions We Frequently Get
Have you gotten any other funding? (Short answer, yes. Longer answer here.)
Do you offer additional resources for teachers with the game? (Short answer, yes. Longer answer here.)
What's your long term vision? (Read more about it here.)
What's your Twitter handle? @7GenGames
What's your website? www.7generationgames.com
Are you on Facebook? Yes, you can check out our page here.
Got a question that isn't answered here? Please contact us -- either here on Kickstarter or through our website -- and we'll get right back to you.
Risks and challenges
We've already committed $50,000 worth of our own money and another $50,000 worth of time into developing Spirit Lake: The Game. We believe in our product, and we're going to do whatever it takes to get it completed and on the market.
We have the personnel, infrastructure and technology we need to make this game a success. Our game is not a concept: We have a tangible product. Now it's just matter of making it better.
If a technical problem comes up, we've got a handful of brillant developers and programmers that will work to come up with the solution.
If there's questions about accuracy, we have consultants -- on the reservation and with advanced degrees in history -- who will ensure the game is cultural and historical correct.
If it's a matter of aesthetics, we have multiple animators working on our game to turn what began as a vision and handful of photographs into a virtual world.
We've recently brought on a marketing officer to share in the business side responsibilities.
We have made sure that no aspect of the game is solely reliant on a single person.
We've also looked toward the future to identify and either overcome or avoid setbacks before we're faced with them.
We've already gotten over the biggest hump when it comes to this game -- we've built a beta version that we're testing in schools.
The biggest challenge we face when it comes from transitioning our game from a prototype to a commercial product is funding. Hence, our Kickstarter campaign. Right now, we're splitting our time between game development and less exciting projects we have to take on to pay the bills.
The more funding we get through Kickstarter, the more time we can spend on this game. The more time we spend on the game, the faster we can get the game in the hands of kids. The more kids we get playing the game, the more students whose math scores will improve.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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