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Tutpup now part of Mind Candy

Mind Candy is delighted to announce the acquisition of Tutpup from Cominded Ltd

Tutpup is a site where kids from around the world can play maths and spelling games against each other. It might sound a bit dry and boring, but five minutes on the site will assure you that it’s not.

Despite being slightly older than the target audience, I’ve been hooked on the site since last summer and have spent countless evenings engaged in cut-throat maths battles with friends.

We’ve been very impressed with the site that Paul Birch, Richard Taylor, and the team at Cominded built, and think there is a lot of potential synergy between Tutpup and Moshi Monsters.

At Mind Candy we strongly believe that kids learn best when having fun, and Tutpup is a great example of this. We’ve heard many tales of children who’ve struggled in traditional lessons, but excelled when put in front of Tutpup. The game gives them confidence, respect from their peers, and a powerful incentive to spend hours honing their maths and spelling skills outside of school. Most importantly it’s fun. Our brains reward us by releasing little chemical jolts of pleasure whenever we grok a new system, and this is a key part of what makes a game fun. Sadly those pleasurable jolts are few and far between when learning in a traditional classroom.

Improving maths and english skills through rapid fire multi-player puzzles games is just the tip of the iceberg. A game centric approach to education could transform how we teach our kids, and better prepare them for a world that is hugely different to the one that existed when curricula and teaching methods were originally laid down.

Game designers could teach educators a great deal about how to make learning more exciting and engaging for children. There are pioneers in this field that are making great headway already: Derek Robertson’s classroom studies with the Nintendo DS (Brain Training and Nintendogs) make fascianting reading, and Graham Brown-Martin’s new conference (Game Based Learning) is a must-attend for anyone interested in this area. Even Carol Voderman and David Cameron are joining the fun with an announcement on the front page of the Guardian today: “Her taskforce is to make maths more cheerful and populist on the Countdown model…”

One of my clearest memories from school was a game I spent several days trying to crack. We had one BBC Micro in the whole of our primary school and getting access to it was a real challenge. I became fascinated by a text based game where you played the role of an ice cream tycoon running a few vans at a seaside resort. In the morning phase of the game you checked a few variables such as the weather report and hotel occupancy, and then decided how many ice creams to buy from your wholesaler. It was a pretty simplistic game but it had such a major impact on me at a critical age that i’m sure helped sow the seed that eventually led to my becoming an entrepreneur. Games are certainly not idle entertainment.

Education has always been at the heart of Moshi Monsters (the game was originally to be called Puzzle Monsters), but we have to tread a very delicate line. There’s no doubt our playground buzz would diminish if kids viewed us as a straight education site. At the same time, we want to ensure there is real educational merit to playing the game so parents are comfortable letting their children spend time and money at the site. There are many kids websites on the internet but very few that marry education with fun in the way Moshi does, so maintaining this balance is vital for us.

We think the 60 second daily puzzle games that children play with their Monster strikes the right balance. The games test a wide range of important skills such as spatial awareness, logic, vocabulary and basic maths, but at the same time are fun to play because of the game elements (friendly feedback from your monster, recording top scores, rewards of the in-game currency etc).

We believe that Tutpup’s style of multi-player puzzle games will make Moshi Monsters even more fun for our users and intend to introduce similar style games to Moshi soon. Tutpup is our first acquisition and we are very aware that there is already a large audience happily playing the game in schools around the world. We want to assure this existing audience that we have no plans to close, charge for, or dramatically modify Tutpup, and if that situation changes we will make sure we give plenty of notice.

If you’re a fan of Tutpup (teacher, parent or child) then we’d love to hear your feedback and ideas on how we can improve it.

Happy Monstering (and Tutpuping)

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