OPINION

A Love Letter to Mathbreakers

A Love Letter to Mathbreakers

Editor’s Note: We asked Brady Fukumoto, a former game designer and now an engineer at EdSurge, to review Mathbreakers.

He loved it so much, he wrote a sonnet.

Ode to Mathbreakers

An education game beyond reproach,
Is rare, like a Black Lotus in full bloom.
And math mechanics with a fresh approach,
Are more uncommon than one might presume.

Come if you seek mathematical intrigue;
An interactive worksheet, this is not.
Experience engagement, not fatigue,
And learn by playing, not by being taught.

Perfection, as a goal, remains elusive:
The price is high, and yes, the team is young.
The Common Core affair is inconclusive,
Yet still, despite these truths, my heart is sprung,

For words forsworn on joy do not belie,
So hear me now: you must give this a try.

Teacher’s Edition with text analysis

An education game beyond reproach,
Is rare, like a Black Lotus in full bloom.

There are many mediocre educational games on the market. A non-exhaustive list of my least favorites include: Timez Attack (terribly un-fun), Oregon Trail (fun, but I can’t think of one thing I learned from it), Mario Teaches Typing (looks like a game, plays like torture), and Mangahigh (a case of quantity over quality).

Good educational games are extremely rare, and great ones even more so. Mathbreakers has potential to be one of the great ones.

And math mechanics with a fresh approach,
Are more uncommon than one might presume.

The world of Mathbreakers is littered with large number barriers, and players must subtract and divide them away using various numerical weaponry. I have played a great many math games and there are very few mechanics as innovative and fun as Mathbreakers'. The game really feels like a Third Person Shooter without sacrificing any educational integrity.

Come if you seek mathematical intrigue;
An interactive worksheet, this is not.

The word “game” can be interpreted many different ways but in my mind, Minecraft, Typing of the Dead and Mathbreakers are games; Mario Teaches Typing, Reader Rabbit, Dreambox Learning, Reasoning Mind, and Math Blaster are interactive worksheets. That’s not to say these programs are bad (well, besides Mario Teaches Typing), but in my opinion, they are not really games.

Experience engagement, not fatigue,

Buzzword alert! Seriously though, this game is engrossing.

And learn by playing, not by being taught.

KQED’s Mind/Shift published a great report on game-based learning and EdSurge has an entire guide on gaming in schools. Check them out!

Perfection, as a goal, remains elusive:
The price is high, 
and yes, the team is young.

The price tag for Mathbreakers starts at $25/student, which is pretty steep for a supplemental math tool. For comparison, Dreambox Learning is also $25/student and offers a complete stand-alone math curriculum. Mathbreakers is also the first game created by the Imaginary Number team and the first game most of the founders have worked on. Level design is an art and we’ll have to see where the team goes with the future design of the game.

The Common Core affair is inconclusive,
Yet still, despite these truths, my heart is sprung,

Mathbreakers is Common Core aligned, but in reality, the exploratory nature of the game makes targeted learning of specific standards difficult. This is not necessarily a bad thing though, as it is Mathbreakers’ freedom and exploration that allows it to present math in such an exciting fashion. Really, it’s just a matter of opinion.

For words forsworn on joy do not belie,
So hear me now: you must give this a try.

Seriously, give it a try. Better yet, let your kids give it a try. They won’t want to put it down.

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