This weekend was my 9th Startup Weekend and it never fails to re-energize! I was invited to mentor teams in helping them get the most out of the weekend, which can only be learned from experience. (It is indeed where Giant Thinkwell was birthed!)
Shortly after coming in on Saturday, I sat down to hear a pitch and was instantly visualizing its potential. Getting kids to learn through compelling gameplay. They called their app "DeathMath", where you go head to head with another player, represented as figures of history, and you kick each others asses through quickly solving math equations. The idea was intended to reach the kids that would rather engage in fun video games and not through boring academic content.
The story and aesthetic wrapper that was told around the initial prototype was one of battle and violence. It was clear that this was an idea that would make some people uneasy, which I happen to favor myself. They had a super talented team too that understood mobile, gaming, fun and education (what more could you ask for?!) A great designer from Ubermind, working on mobile experiences for large brands, as well as a developer from the Microsoft X-Box team, another developer from Teachstreet and of course the man with the idea and business guy, also from Teachstreet. The only thing I felt they were lacking was some flavorful avatars to represent the historical figures and especially in their brutalized state. I saw an opportunity to help them out and make some noise.
Check out the weekend demo at www.DeathMath.com - we'll definitely polish it up and get it native to the iPad with more avatars, more violence, and more academic development.
Oh, did I mention it was posted to Reddit, and within a couple of hours made the front page with almost 2,000 upvotes and 200 comments? Tons of great feedback and tons of great hating! (told you there'd be uneasiness...)
Here are some screenshots: (Design is Joe Shoop / Avatars by me)
Here was our awesome team:
And lastly, this is an extra little something to say thanks to Mike Arrington for not only coming out to support and judge Startup Weekend EDU, which meant a lot to the Seattle community, but also a thank-you from team DeathMath for showing enthusiasm and support during the demo. Thanks Mike!