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Mia: Braiding Learning with Play

by Sylvie Parent, translated by Timothy Barnard

The key to the Mia series' success is that the titles seamlessly integrate learning activities into the game play itself
- Richard Vincent, President, Kutoka

In the world of children's games, what is fun is not always educational. For educational game designers, balancing learning with playfulness is a constant challenge. Within the rapidly growing sphere of electronic games, few companies have been as successful as the small Montreal outfit Kutoka. The games in its Mia collection provide a rare blend of stimulating content and fun environments.

Designed for six to ten year olds, the Mia collection is made up of a variety of educational games on cd-rom which promote language learning, mathematics, and science. The educational content is the product of extensive consultations with pedagogical experts, psychologists, teachers, and children. But equal attention has been paid to making the games captivating and fun: they have been designed with careful attention to story lines, complex characters, and splendid 3-D animation effects, which lend a cinematic quality to the viewing experience. In addition, the interactivity is designed to make a young user's natural gestures coincide with the action. Viewers never have the impression of "working": the educational content is integrated into the unfolding of the game in a fluid and almost imperceptible manner. Learning is achieved by solving riddles, and by surmounting challenges similar to those found in non-educational games.

Kutoka's products are marketed in fourty-two countries and are available in fourteen languages. They have won more than seventy prizes and awards.

Sylvie Parent is French Editor for HorizonZero.

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