Edutainment. Man, I hate that word. But the concept, the concept I love.
Unfortunately the business of making education fun hasn't had much luck making its way to the console as of late. Just last month I was bemoaning the lack of educational games on the Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii over a dinner with a bunch of developers.
Just about everyone at the table had a reason why educational games not only would never make their way to the next-gen consoles, but shouldn't. They are, one person hinted, the touch of death for developers.
But at least one developer doesn't buy that.
Later this year Knowledge Adventure is bringing Math Blaster to the DS and next year the publisher plans to bring the game to Wii's WiiWare channel and the Xbox 360's Live Arcade. They also have designs on an iPhone version of the game.
"We think we are going to be at the forefront here," said David Lord, president Knowledge Adventure. "I think there is a market opportunity."
Lord brought on a new team in April with plans to move the company's traditional PC-based business to the console.
"We have this nice educational software business in the PC space, but the business has transformed," he said. "You are either moving to the console or online or you are in a real niche."
The typical child is more technologically savvy then they were a decade ago, Lord said. So they're using Math Blaster's jump to the DS and a new line of PC educational games as a test.
If things go well the new line of PC games will be heading to the consoles and DS next year, Lord said.
"When we launch on platforms we will launch across all of them," he said. "We are hoping to have four to five games on each platform by holiday next year."
The leap to console gaming wasn't just about the market, it was also about the technology. Lord says that these new digital distribution channels on the consoles have opened a lot of doors for them.
"The barriers to entry have gone down significantly for us," he said. "It becomes a much more attainable product environment. This technology has given us a great opportunity to think outside of the box, to get past what held this industry back."
"We know we have entertaining games and we think there is a big market for them," he said. "We may not hit Madden or GTA share, but that's not our goal."