It’s no easy task to create a game that people will truly enjoy. Not to mention the competition in the market from large game studios with lots of people and lots of money. How is a small start-up from Canada supposed to top Candy Crush, Fortnite, or even Angry Birds? And what if that start-up wanted to make a game that was not only engaging, but completely centered around boosting reading skills and literacy?
Not to toot our own horn, but despite the challenges we believe we have created just such a game (toot toot). With the help of teachers, pedagogy experts, game designers, and artists, Squiggle Park has created Dreamscape– an extraordinarily fun game that both educates and drives the desire to read.
But we wanted to push ourselves one step further. We believe deeply that educational tools that really work should be available to anyone who needs them. We know that the kids, schools, and teachers who may need these tools the most, are often the ones with the lowest budgets to get them.
So we made the game free.
But how can we afford to pay all the people who make Dreamscape excellent with a game that is free? That’s precisely what this blog is about: how we are able to tackle the challenge of running a revenue-earning company while offering our product for free, and why we do it.
Picture this: a kid born in the next town over has access to new textbooks, tablets, and new books while you’re stuck with the same Goosebumps books you’ve been reading for the past two years and a desktop that barely runs Windows ‘97.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that you aren’t going to be able to accomplish your life goals, but it almost does certainly mean you are going to be disadvantaged compared to kids attending the well-funded, more modern school. In fact, the gap between well-funded and not-so well-funded districts is astounding. The ‘richest’ school districts in the US have graduation rates of 99% meanwhile the ‘poorest’ districts have graduation rates of 75-80%. If a not-so well-funded district has a population of 10,000 students, this means that 2000 students will not graduate high school compared to the only 100 students that wouldn’t graduate at a well-funded district, that is serious.
Dreamscape is here to equalize the learning opportunities for all students around the world. Being able to read proficiently in elementary school is a good indicator of whether or not a student will graduate. Our goal with Dreamscape is to get all kids in grades 3-6 reading to their highest capable level before entering middle school. All kids should have the same chance to learn, build confidence, and succeed regardless of financial boundaries.
More than 97% of schools in North America have internet access, and almost all of those schools have access to computers and/or tablets. Despite most schools having access to the necessary basic technological framework, many of them don’t have the additional funds to purchase software resources that they can use with that technology. Dreamscape gives these schools the opportunity to use high quality educational technology resources, without the burden of a recurring annual cost.
We are able to offer Dreamscape to all teachers, parents, and students for free by offering an optional paid membership for students who truly love the game. The membership provides benefits such as exclusive customization features for your avatar, exclusive skins for structures in your base, and a whole single-player quest through a short gamified adventure novel called Spider-Bots Rising. Spider-Bots Rising is comprised of 24 new chapters of bonus reading made up of almost 8000 words!
The price of the membership is just $60/year– a bit less than the cost of a standard mainstream video game.For those that can afford this expense, memberships subsidize the cost of the program for those students and school districts who would not otherwise have access to such a high-quality educational technology resource. Every membership that is purchased allows us to give Dreamscape to classrooms and kids around the world, for free.
To get started engaging your kids in reading, sign up for Dreamscape here: https://go.pardot.com/l/406482/2019-02-13/78j3xc
Our team here at Squiggle Park is incredibly passionate about creating a future where every person has access to education and can become passionate about learning. Here’s to that future.