Building Freddy’s Fractions: An Inside Look

Freddy's Fractions at Math Chimp

Help Freddy collect fractions and avoid submarines!

Math Chimp now includes its first original game: Freddy’s Fractions.  Despite years of experience collecting and sharing math games, building one isn’t easy.  As you try Freddy’s Fractions – and decide what you like and what you don’t – here are some of the most important design decisions that ultimately resulted in the game we created.

Live-Action or Turn-Based?

Live-action games put the pressure on players to correctly time their actions to other game components – for instance, jumping over rolling barrels in Donkey Kong.  Turn-based games, on the other hand, pause game play and wait for the player to select an action.  We quickly decided Freddy’s Fractions should be a live-action game because students are increasingly growing up with mobile devices, enabling them to handle complex motor skills on smartphones and tablets.  We also find live-action games simply more fun to play.

Picking the Game’s Setting

The game’s setting was the next most important question we needed to answer.  Because this was our first game, complex animations – like running or jumping — seemed overwhelming.  On the other hand, flying or swimming can be animated in a comparatively simple manner.  We ultimately decided to go with swimming because an underwater scene seemed like a more colorful and interesting environment.

Educational Action

We wanted Freddy’s Fractions to put education first, meaning the game should force players to evaluate real math questions, not just have fun. As a live-action game, Freddy’s Fractions requires players to answer questions accurately and quickly. The game gets increasingly difficult as students answer questions correctly, making it able to accommodate students of different ability levels.

Subject Matter

We created Freddy’s Fractions specifically for the 2013 Mari Games competition, sponsored by  Alexandria-based Carney Labs, Carnegie Mellon University, George Mason University and New York University.  The competition required that games focus on fractions, which made subject matter an easy decision for us.  Based on the Common Core, fractions are a topic for third, fourth, and fifth grade students — we realized the game would be a good first game for Math Chimp, which provides games for students in first through eighth grade.

The Next Step

We went through an intensive design process for Freddy’s Fractions – but this is just the beginning.  As we prepare to build more games, we need and want your feedback!  What do you like or dislike about Freddy’s Fractions?  Are there things Math Chimp can do better?  We’d like to hear what you want to see in our next game.  (For example, we’ve already received a request for a race car game).

Let us know what you think on Twitter: @mathchimp or on Facebook.