There’s a lot of talk within the tech world about “What problem is your product solving?” And too often a lot of those problems aren’t actually problems.
For example, food delivery is great. Trust me, probably utilize it more often than I should, but an app that integrates say my food delivery preferences with my social network so that I can see where my friends are ordering from isn’t really solving a problem. (I just made that example up, but someone is probably working it.) Wanting to know where my friends order takeout from isn’t a working on solving a problem. Combating hunger – in a society where over 16 million kids are going hungry – that’s a real a problem.
At 7 Generation Games, we want to solve real problems. And the continued failure of U.S. students when it comes to math performance is a real problem. It’s not just “kids don’t get math.” Not “getting math” means not understanding the necessary concepts needed to thrive in a future where the majority of jobs will require them. It means ending up with a job that pays less. It contributes the cycle of persistent poverty. It means some kids are left behind from the very beginning and robbing them from an opportunity to catch up. The fact that minority kids are getting left even further behind, that’s a real problem. And so that’s the problem we’re setting out to solve.
And I recognize that’s not “texy” – that is tech sexy -> tech+sexy – as in when investors talk about what’s “sexy” (i.e. attractive) as far as investing in. [Maybe someone else has used the term, but I’ve never heard it and it didn’t immediately pop up in the first page of Google when I searched, so I’m giving myself credit for coining texy.] Education is not texy. It’s not flashy and it takes a long time to see the benefits – and honestly, middle school kids can be difficult – but the reality is education it’s really, really important. A lot more important than “It’s like Blue Apron but for cats.” (Again, I just made that up, but seriously wouldn’t be surprised if that’s a thing – and I honestly wouldn’t even be shocked if it was a thing that had V.C. funding because it seems like a problem friends of super rich V.C. types might have – and I can totally see reality stars and blonde girls posting pictures of themselves cooking in with their cats – very texy! – and hey, “Pets are $60 billion market.”) So improving education – making kids better at math – is the problem we’re tackling.
That’s why I’m really excited about the newest game we’re rolling out in the next few weeks.
In Making Camp, the first app from 7 Generation Games, players build out a virtual world – earning points by solving math problems and learning about Native American history. Not “just another educational game,” Making Camp combines what works best in gaming with what works best in digital learning – supported by two rounds of federally funded efficacy testing that shows students who played our games improved significantly over the control group. If you truly want to solve real problems – not things like “a geo-targeted app to help me determine which valet parking lot is better rated” – addressing the struggling math performance of kids is an actual REAL problem that needs to be tackled in order to create a better future. Making Camp seeks to do just that.