YES YOU CAN: Since January 2013, Electronic Arts’ founder Trip Hawkins started a new company, If You Can, to build a game that 1) teaches social emotional learning (SEL) skills; and 2) does so in a way that's not boring like most edutainment titles of the late 90’s. VentureBeat’s Dean Takahashi takes a look the first title, “IF…,” where kids ages six to 12 are tasked with employing empathy and SEL skills to make sure the cat and dog tribes in the fantasy game get along.
The game, which will be available as a free iPad app in January 2014, focuses on developing twenty specific SEL skills related to self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationships and decision-making. Jessica Berlinski, co-founder and Chief Learning Officer, tells EdSurge that one of the goals is to "push the conversation around SEL outside of education and academic circles and into consumer space." She adds: "Social-emotional learning needs to be a culture shift, and we need role models across all sectors of life, beginning with parents.”
Fun is in the DNA of the team, which includes gaming industry veterans like Ben Geliher, former lead producer at Moshi Monsters, and Stewart Bonn, former Senior VP and GM of EA Studios. “Traditionally there's too much gamification of learning,” says Berlinski. "We want to go after the learnification of gaming.”
If You Can has raised $3 million in convertible debt from investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Maveron, Greylock and Founder's Fund.