Skidos, an edtech startup based in Copenhagen after relocating its HQ from New Delhi, offers an SDK to help games developers turn casual games into “learning apps”. The idea, co-founder and CEO Aditya Prakash says, is to flip the existing model where educational games often do a poor job of mimicking popular non-educational gaming titles. Thus, instead of gamifying existing learning content as it moves into the digital domain, Skidos wants to make it easier to put the learning content into casual gaming.
“After launching our first in-house educational game in 2014, I quickly realised that making fun, high quality games was very time consuming and expensive,” he explains. “However at the same time, we had strong evidence that 5-12 year old kids really found the game engaging and useful to practice math. We used this evidence to pivot towards developing our proprietary SDK which can convert popular mobile games into fun educational games”.
The Skidos SDK, which is initially focusing on maths, soft launched at the Nordic Game conference in May 2016 where, Prakash says, the startup got a “phenomenal response” from game developers. The first version of the SDK was then given a more formal launch that August and since then Skidos has partnered with 10 international game studios and has launched 9 converted games on the App Stores.
“If a pupil plays one of Skidos’ games for ten weeks or more, their accuracy level in math questions will, on average, go up by four percent besides increasing the time spent on practicing skills,” claims the Skidos founder.
But exactly how does the SDK let developers convert a casual game into a bona fide learning app?
In terms of the actual learning content, it has been designed as a replacement for worksheets and is mapped to popular maths curriculums. Specifically, once the game developer integrates the SDK, the learning content gets triggered at specific events when the child needs to advance in the game or win the virtual currency or special power up of the game — see the video embedded below.
From a technical perspective, it’s offered as a Unity package file which has its own Graphical User Interface (GUI) and libraries which communicate with the Skidos servers.
For example, Prakash argues that a game like Super Mario can teach children mathematical concepts of speed, distance, time, costs, height etc because they engage with these concepts in the game. “We have created many such concepts around mathematics along with other standard mathematics curriculum inside the SDK,” he says.
“There are companies who have tried to develop their own fun learning games but have failed to build a scalable business model,” adds Prakash. “At the same time, kids in the age group of 6-13 years are gamified since birth and spend an average of 2 hours daily playing casual games. We want to create learning opportunities for them during this time without compromising on gameplay or fun”.
To further that mission, Skidos has raised $750,000 in new funding. Leading the round are SEED Capital Denmark, with participation from unnamed Danish angel investors.