Jenna Hoffstein shared her views on designing educational games during Casual Connect USA 2014. “Educational games need to be awesome,” she said. “They need to be fun, engaging, and exciting. We don’t get a pass just because this is a hard design problem.”
Jenna Hoffstein founded Little Worlds Interactive in the summer of 2013 with the goal to make amazing educational games. For the past year, she has been developing The Counting Kingdom, and will be releasing it in late summer 2014. She does all the design and development, with talented contractors doing the art, audio, and marketing.
A Curious Tale
She describes herself as a curious person who loves learning new things and always wants to know “why?” She looks for the patterns in events or information, always searching below the surface of things to the underlying mechanics.
Throughout her career, she has worked across a number of different genres and platforms and has learned to always question her assumptions in order to craft the type of gameplay experience that is right for a particular project.
She maintains that every project has joyous moments. Right now, she is very proud of how tightly designed the mechanics are in The Counting Kingdom, as well as the level of polish that such a small team has been able to reach. She says, “I’m proud every time someone plays the game and enjoys it.”
Hoffstein expects the educational games market to continue growing in size partly because of the accessibility of learning apps on mobile devices. She plans to take advantage of this growth by being a leader with high-quality and engaging gameplay. And she will release games across a number of platforms in order to reach players in many places.
A trend which she has been following with great interest is VR, but she believes it will be some years before it has any possibility of becoming mass market. She admits, “I don’t know how big the impact will be, but I’m excited to see what kinds of new experiences we can create with it.”
Hoffstein enjoys playing games on her computer, iPad, and phone. She describes Monument Valley as her game of the year so far and Threes as her go-to when she has a few minutes to spare. When she has a longer time to sit down and play, she goes to her computer to play Banished, a city building strategy game, claiming, “It’s brutal, but I love it.” She rarely plays console games but does own Xbox 360 and a Wii. Her research into Facebook games has led her to make small F2P purchases, but never more than $20.
She loves making things. If she is not involved in developing a game, she is usually baking something or trying out a new craft. Her most recent explorations include laser cutting and Arduino.
Catherine Quinton is a staff writer for www.gamesauce.org. Catherine loves her hobby farm, long walks in the country and reading great novels.