Recurious, a new game development platform that aims to help kids rediscover their curiosity, is announcing $1.5 million in funding led by Greylock Partners (Reid Hoffman).
Founded by James Miao, Recurious wants to create better educational games for children. Miao believes that there is a gap in quality game design for kids. As Miao explains, most kids games dress up education into gaming, which he compares to “covering broccoli with chocolate.”
He thinks that having a more thoughtful approach to design of kids’ games is essential for self-motivated learning because it immediately engages kids and then gives them just enough of an information gap where the actual curiosity element kicks in. And it’s this curiosity that helps kids actually learn while playing a hame.
The startup’s first title Dinorama, which is aimed at kids ages 7 through 12, is based around encouraging children to build a dinosaur theme park. The actual gaming and creative element centralizes around how to make the park successful from a financial standpoint.
In Dinorama, kids learn about earning, spending, and saving money by building amusements for their visitors, caring for their dinosaurs, and weathering events like rainstorms that increase maintenance costs and lower ticket sales.
Kids are encourages to feed the dinosaurs, hire a tour guide, pop popcorn, inflate balloons, and photograph visitors; clean and repair the park; guide visitors to their favorite dinosaur and more. Kids can name dinosaurs, feed them, use money to build a park, create better habitats for dinosaurs, and more. It’s sort of like Farmville meets Petsville, plus dinosaurs.
As Miao tells us, the aim is “how to crate an aspirational environment where kids want to pay attention, and are learning.” Part of this is allowing kids to be entrepreneurial with their money, adding problem solving elements (i.e. how to deal with a rainy day in the dinosaur park and unexpected issues like food shortages, or no tourists because of a bus breakdown).
Miao previously founded another gaming startup, thesixtyone, which blended gaming elements with indie music discovery. He says he learned a tremendous amount about gaming (he also worked at EA) and thought he could apply this to children’s games as well.
Next up, Recurious will be launching new games in creative play, as well as multiplication and division.