Thursday, June 14, 2012

Kickstarting a Dream

Really, I am sorry for the corny title. It's just hard not to be optimistic when you are attempting to take the "family business" to the next level. A digital format would hold many advantages in distributing the game outside of the San Antonio bubble, but let me be honest -- nothing will ever come close to matching the unique thrill of watching it dawn in the wide-eyes of a  9 year old staring at thousands of miniature historical armies for the first time that yes, history can be fun.

The Hamiltons, as a family, have taught "Medieval Battles" at the same small private school summer camp (quaint site, no?) for the last 25 years. It's has been a quarter of a century of growing and fine tuning, of adding complexity without sacrificing accessibility. It can be daunting at first for young kids to walk into a room with a 30 foot long table filled with big kids with big armies. Yet, what we discover is that often many of those children just have yet to be challenged  by any sort of game that incorporates math, luck, and most importantly strategy. It is fascinating to watch a timid 9 year old get pulled out of his or her shell by the variety of the turn-based gameplay, and then start to demonstrate actual historical tactical maneuvers by the end of the week.

It has become such a hit during the summers that our preferred miniature retailer, Dibble's Hobbies, consistently sees a revenue boost from young kids coming in to buy figures that they too can paint and assemble. I am sure the Medieval Battles kids are easy to spot, since they are usually the ones leading confused parents around the store. Most of the time, those parents are only too happy to indulge their child's passion for learning, even though it must sound like Greek when their kid turns to them at the dinner table and tells them, "My English longbows destroyed the French knights after their peasants routed."

Even still, some enthusiastic parents tipped off the San Antonio Express News, who wrote a great article, though it did have the misfortune of being embedded next to some pretty depressing headlines (seriously, scroll down past the awfulness in part 1 and part 2 of the articles).

How could I possibly replicate that tactile learning experience? Without expanding naturally - I simply can't. Not to say that purchasing 200 more pounds of painted 11mm pewter figurines is impossible, it's just impractical for achieving a greater impact in the educational community. I want to prove that the way in which our youth engages with history and its lessons can evolve to meet the expectations of the modern age by also making it accessible to everyone who does not have the money for thousands of hand painted figures.  By launching a Kickstarter campaign, I am hoping to garner enough pledged support to turn Medieval Battles into a mobile application, playable on both tablets or phones. Though it will obviously incorporate new elements of gameplay for the mobile platform, it will stay true to its core principle of the reward structure being educationally driven. Fast paced sword fighting or bow shooting via factor multiplication? It could happen.

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Damn. Feels good keeping the legacy alive.

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