Review by Emily Pohlonski, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2016
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The Infinite Arcade by TinyBop

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Simple game-design app has endless creative potential

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Grades
2-5 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Students get to learn the design process, testing their game and making improvements.

Cons: No way for kids to publish their games online for others to play.

Bottom Line: Design, play, and improve your own arcade games.

The Infinite Arcade by TinyBop is best used during flexible periods of the school day when kids can explore individual passions. This might include media time, Genius Hour, or indoor recess. The Next Generation Science Standards do have performance expectations that include engineering practices such as optimizing design solutions. However, the NGSS also emphasizes that these should be taught within the context of science. So if kids are playing with Infinite Arcade during their Genius Hour, they will be better equipped to engage in the engineering process during their science units.

TinyBop participates in Apps for Impact that gives free apps to teachers in Title 1 schools and underserved communities. More information on this is available under the Parents & Teachers menu.

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Kids and adults alike will enjoy creating their own games in The Infinite Arcade. Begin by selecting a game type such as pinball, ball and paddle, platformer, maze, or start with a blank world and create your own. Game designers then have to decide how to end their game. Will you win by entering a victory portal, gathering all the collectables, killing all the enemies, or simply staying alive? Regardless, when the player’s character or ball runs out of lives, they lose. 

Designers can choose between characters or balls with different strengths and weaknesses. These range from Chompers, who attack by eating, to Inky Brains that swim and hit their enemies with electric tentacles. Students can even create their own characters by adding colors or photos to the independent operator. By mixing and matching these options you can create endless combinations of games.

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Kids can be game engineers. But, more than a game, this app is a powerful learning tool because students define problems, develop possible solutions, test their game, and then come back to make improvements. Each child learns decision-making skills and is empowered by a large variety of choice as they build and manage their own collection of games.

While kids can hand their device off to a friend to play, the game would be improved if kids could digitally share and play each other’s games. Since kids can create their own messages to let players know they've won or lost, students might need a reminder that good sportsmanship is important online, too, and positive win/loss messages are best.

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Overall Rating
4

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
5

Kids can get creative and build exactly the game they want to play. Tons of options will keep them coming back for more.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
4

By using part of the engineering process, kids learn how to optimize solutions to problems. Their initial frustration will be rewarded by the excitement of figuring out the perfect game.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
4

Twenty-one languages are available, from English to Uzbek. An online instruction manual is simple and straightforward with clearly labeled images.


Common Sense Reviewer
Emily Pohlonski Classroom teacher

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