How many kids would love to have a dog of their very own? Yet, the world is full of reasons they can’t have one. Another family member is allergic. The landlord won’t allow it. The family moves too often. No one would be home to care for it.
“Our family already has a dog. A dog just for you? Don’t be stupid!”
It was another night working in a hotel room on the Spirit Lake Dakota Nation. All my friends were busy with their own families. It was too cold to go outside (which for me means anything below freezing). Since I was in the mode of feeling sorry for myself, I was thinking about how I always wanted my own dog when I was a kid and was told that was a stupid idea and I couldn’t have one. Because I can never feel sorry for myself for more than 15 minutes or so without doing something about it, I started thinking about how I could give a dog to kids who play our games.
And so, the multiplication dog was born!
I coded the draft that evening and showed it to kids at a school demo the next day and their reaction caught me off guard. Even though it was just a rough sketch with a few activities, pulled together with art I had on my laptop, it was one of the kids’ favorite activities.
With real artwork (thanks, Tati the Art Gal) and some sound effects from Jonah the Sound Guy, it is the most popular activity in Making Camp. I find it funny how long kids pause and think about what they are going to name their dog, even asking their friends and teacher/ parent for advice.
As with everything else in Making Camp, the currency is math problems. Also, as Irma the Intern pointed out, players learn responsibility.
Solve math problems and earn a dog! All you need to do is name your dog and you’re off to happy days and no responsibilities, right?
– Yeah right.
If you want to feed your dog, you have to solve more problems.
Need a water dish? Then, solve more math problems.
Give your dog a treat? Solve a math problem to get a bone.
I’d like to claim that I knew that night that this would be our most popular activity, that one of the most common requests we would get from kids would be more chances to play with their dog, suggestions to be able to buy it a collar, build a dog house.
The truth is, I was just thinking about myself as a kid, which led me to think about what your kids would want and how I could make it happen for them and teach math and history at the same time.
Speaking of history, you’d also learn from Making Camp that, before the Europeans brought horses, Native Americans used dogs for transportation. They would use dogs to haul heavy loads on a sled called a travois.
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As for me, since it’s nearly 1 a.m., I’m going to take a tip from my dog and take a nap.
(Another really common request we get is for a cat. We do have a LOT of cats in our game Forgotten Trail, but unlike Making Camp, Forgotten Trail is only available for Mac, Windows and Chromebook right now. )