Serious Games Showcase and Challenge Winner Joko's World - Pocket Planet

07/09/2018

 SimGHOSTS 2018 Australia event was a collaboration with Simulation Australasia and Serious Games Australia and New Zealand. The event included the Serious Games Showcase and Challenge Australasia, with the winner going on to compete in the Global Serious Games Showcase and Challenge at I/ITSEC in Orlando, Florida in November 2018. The winner was Joko's World: Pocket Planet by Cultural Infusion - learn more about the purpose and development of the game here.

 

By Robert Barry, Game Designer - Cultural Infusion

Joko’s World is a series of award winning children’s educational games (ages 7 -11+) developed by Cultural Infusion. It is designed around the principles of blended learning, gamification, and a cross-curriculum focus.

To date six games have been released based on the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). While all have featured multiple curriculum areas (Music, Humanities, Literacy, and History), they focused on the newly introduced curriculum area of Intercultural Competency (IC). By targeting this area we are assisting teachers with bringing IC into the classrooms whilst at the same time furthering the mission of Cultural Infusion; a world that is culturally and social cohesive that values the richness of our collective cultural heritages.

For Pocket Planet we wanted to have the learning deeply embedded, and so the act of moving in the game involves spinning the globe and learning about geography. As the player looks for the countries Joko will provide hints and in some modes provide cultural information about the countries.

 

Pocket Planet began development in mid 2016, and at the time we decided to use Unity 3D. This platform made the most sense for us as it is very flexible and well suited to making apps. It also is an easy platform for quick builds of the game in the prototyping phase. From the beginning we have intended to make multiple translations of the product, so the majority of the text is generated by Unity itself (and so can be easily swapped when translations are ready). Another early consideration was trying to blend the 2D art style of Joko’s World with a 3D globe that rotates. We did a lot of testing and after reskinning the globe to a new image, adding the interface, and Joko (of course), we were delighted to see that this was not only possible, but the results quite seamless.


During development there were two big demands from the research and focus testing. From the teachers and parents (our primary markets); the content needed to be easily accessible and meet educational criteria, while from the children; it needed to have long-term engagement and unlockables. The first issue was solved by having a challenge mode which featured content divided by countries, flags, capital cities, and landmarks. Each of these is then divided up by continent. This way the teacher can access the content they intend to use in the class. For the children we created an Adventure Mode where they help Joko find missing alien friends that have gotten lost while exploring earth. As these aliens are found they go back to the Treehouse where players can see them and other rewards they have earned.

In play testing we found that the game is best played by parents engaging in it with their children, so as to contextualise the learning, and assist in solving the problems. Within the classroom it has been used as supplementary material (covering areas already addressed in the class by teachers) or as a group activity; where students are paired together so they can assist each others missing geography knowledge, as well as engage in a conversation about the countries (to reinforce learning).

We are tremendously proud of what the team has achieved with Pocket Planet and to have won the Serious Games Showcase & Challenge Australasia (Industry Category) has been a tremendous honour. It will enable us to promote the valuable game even further. We are excited to see where we can take Joko, and it is great to know others are excited also!


 Below: The Joko's World team from Cultural Infusion celebrate their win.