In its current form, *Mathbreakers* will probably be most useful to teachers as a fun way to engage kids in reviewing and thinking about mathematical concepts. Future versions have a lot of potential, though. Multiplayer would allow students to work in groups to solve problems, and level design will give kids the chance to design levels for each other, building their math skills by actually creating the puzzles. By making math skills so central to the game mechanics, *Mathbreakers* also has good potential to draw in kids who enjoy video games but aren't big fans of math. The demo is free to download, but there is a cost for the final full version.

*Mathbreakers* is an in-development 3D game featuring a variety of puzzles solved with basic math skills. It's a thin -- but effective -- skin on basic mathematics practice. The first level opens with a simple, well-guided concept: collect numbered balls and throw them at their inverses to zero them out and eliminate obstacles and monsters. For example, if monsters have a "2" on them the player needs to hit them with "-2" to destroy them. Things get gradually more complex as numbers quickly increase, and players have to decide how to use the number balls to get through the levels. Eventually new tools get added including different types of guns that can be loaded with numbers, hammers that break large numbers into their prime factors, etc..

It's clearly, lacking any narrative hook and graphical polish. Future versions plan to add multiplayer and sandbox play, as well as the ability for both kids (and teachers) to design their own levels.

Continue readingThe best thing about *Mathbreakers* is that math is the central game mechanic, not something students in between having fun. It has a nice progression, starting with tossing simple numbered balls, but eventually players can switch balls from positive to negative, and quickly increase or decrease numbers through multiplication and division. All these concepts are put together well and make kids think about and use mathematical skills on the fly. The final version is targeted at all the common core standards for grades 1-6, but currently only touches on a slice of earlier concepts. There's very little support, though, and teachers are likely to be plagued by kids asking for help, especially as they first figure out the game.