When I was a kid, my mom would drop me off at the library so I could “study.” I would sneak to the basement of the library and play “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego” on the library’s computer. It turns out I was studying, fooled into playing an educational video game.
Kids love video games, so why not make them fun and educational? That’s the idea behind a Seattle-based start-up, partially funded by Microsoft, called Sabi Inc., which is releasing a new game called “ItzaBitza.”
The reading and drawing game is targeted at children four years and older. It features a technology developed by Microsoft’s research division called “Living Ink,” which allows children to draw objects, such as a house or a tree, that come to life and interact with the game’s characters.
As part of the game, children embark on various “quests,” which force the players to read on-screen instructions. If a child gets stuck on a word, they can roll the mouse over the letters to pronounce the words out loud.
Sabi has a healthy level of appreciation for what it’s done:
“The same way Sesame Street was groundbreaking for TV, that’s how I would look at this,” said Co-Founder and Chief Executive Margaret Johnson, a former Microsoft employee. “It’s the time for an update to the get to the type of gaming that kids are doing today.”