Magitech Q&A with Duke Wong: Solving the Skill Gap The scope and mission of Magitech is promising and refreshing – it aims to teach real-life skills through practical lessons incorporating gamification of learning to keep players engaged. Magitech was a unique title available during the MomoCon 2016 Indie Showcase because of its rare goal—the unification of gaming, entertainment and learning. Most games are created as entertainment or art but this is one of the few titles being developed which hopes to leave the player a little better prepared for life outside the game each time they are finished with a quest. While playing Magitech, I found the interface easy to use and was surprised to find that the graphs, terminology and economic concepts were the same as those I’d learned during my undergraduate studies. The game appears fully equipped to deliver on its premise to educate players on core economic concepts, which are necessary to succeed in business. I was impressed with Magitech, but even more so by one of its developers, Duke Wong, who was enthusiastic and energetic as he demoed and showed off his game to the general audience, sharing the practical applications and impact Magitech could have in people’s lives. Can you please describe how you founded Wrainbo? While at working at McKinsey, I discovered a huge and growing business analytics skill gap – a projected 1.5M shortage of talents by 2018. Being an avid gamer and possessing strong passion in education, I was convinced that a merger of these two will create a winning formula for the millennial generation to help solve the skill gap. How do you describe Magitech to people who haven’t heard of it? Magitech is a fantasy mobile game that helps build business acumen. Players will learn core concepts of Economics, Statistics, and business functions by casting business spells and trading magic products. Being on the mobile platform, Magitech features level duration of 5-10 minutes so you could play and learn anywhere and anytime. Magitech looks to have a unique audience with the goal to teach players – how do you think the game will be received outside the educational arena? We believe that the game will be received equally well outside the educational arena. The game is set in a fantasy world to provide strong entertainment value- people enjoy seeing the goblin being a banker! In our playtests for the alpha version, we have attracted more than 70 companies to sign up for beta testing and many gamers who are not in school now. Are there any traditional educational practices incorporated into Magitech’s gameplay cycle? We try to leverage some of the learning science research when designing our game. For example, it was found that people learn best when mixing multiple relevant concepts. Magitech has taken such approach to blend Economics, Statistics, and core business topics together. This also allows players to experience what the real world is like. How did you decide which features of business to focus on for Magitech? First, we want everyone to build comfort in using data to make business decisions, as we live in a big data era. In addition, we believe it is important to learn the fundamentals of Economics, Statistics, and Accounting as all business concepts are built on those frameworks. Finally, we want players to have a certain level of understanding of each core business functions- Marketing, Operations, and Finance, so no matter which function and role they play, they understand how that relates with each other. How was the reception at MomoCon 2016 in Atlanta? It was superb and rewarding to see that the game appealed to audiences of all ages equally. Multiple people have played through all the levels and a high school teacher even asked to bring this to her class proactively. That sort of engagement to an education game was reassuring for our vision. What feature or design choice are you most excited for players to experience? We are really excited about the dynamic Crystal Ball in our core gameplay. The crystal ball provides relevant analytics charts depending on the decision context the players are in and is an innovative design that has never been done before. It is the essential tool that connects hard-core learning with strategy gameplay and we hope players will feel the magical power this tool brings. What is your development philosophy? My team’s development philosophy is to deliver strong gameplay and education simultaneously. We don’t believe for a game to be educational, the gameplay needs to suffer, and vice versa. While it is hard to execute this all the time, we always ask ourselves whether we enjoy the game and whether we are learning something when a new design feature or level is finished. What advice do you have for aspiring developers who want to break into the industry? My first advice for breaking into the learning game industry is to pick a subject area that you are very familiar with as that’s the only way you could blend the learning seamlessly with the game design. The other advice I would give is to carry out playtest as frequent as possible so you could see how the players are reacting to the various decisions you are making, from gameplay, UI, to art. What lessons regarding game development have you learned on this project? We spent too much time on our first prototype and it performed poorly during playtest. Instead of trying to tackle art, UI, and core gameplay in the first prototype, I would have focused just on core gameplay. Once that is figured out, then it would be easier to put the art and UI in place that supports the gameplay in a much more efficient manner. The other lesson I’ve learned is people don’t like to read tutorials, so it is critical to design the UI intuitively that most people could figure out how to play by themselves. Being an education game is no exception. Magitech will release for mobile and is currently accepting signups for beta access. If you want to see the latest up and coming indie titles plan to attend MomoCon next year. Level Up, Friends!