Maria Filin is the founder of the Russian company Run Edutainment and the producer of a series of computer and mobile games “Rune the Adventurer” which helps children study the Russian language, Mathematics and other school subjects.
Why did you decide to make educational games?
It’s a frequently asked question. Initially it was just a coincidence. Before starting this educational project I had a publishing company, print production. But at some point I understood that this market was stagnating and I must find another area. As I’m a philologist and a teacher of Russian, I decided to choose the area which I have a lot of skills for, and that is education. I studied prospective business areas and found out that gamification of education is the latest world trend. So I made up my mind to try my hand at developing educational games. It turned out to be not so easy that it seemed, but I continue to overcome all the difficulties, because I think this job is my vocation. You know, games are a kind of art. Everyone likes games. But it’s much more fascinating to create the whole game world according to your tastes and preferences. We play games while creating them. And creating games for children we connect to our inner child which makes us happy. And that’s the main answer to the question “Why?”
Everything turned out to be not so easy? What difficulties have you had to overcome?
When I decide to do something, I start working on it immediately and always finish it up. But this time there was a tiny problem - I knew nothing about working in IT sphere and developing software. Later I faced all the problems caused by this lack of experience. It all began 3 years ago, and during the first half of this period it just didn’t work. And, frankly speaking, occasionally I wished to give it up because of all those problems. But I went on. So, by this time, I’ve managed to retrain and study the specific character of the IT sphere, game industry and other connected fields and form a strong team of professionals.
Then things got better. But we still had difficulties with finance. Later it became that very reason that led to such a long period of developing the game. There were some offers from business angels, but I had to decline them, so unfavourable they were. Everything changed an the beginnig of the year 2015, when we won a grant from the Russian innovations funding agency. And finally we are ready to present our first project.
All in all, it includes much work, of course, and working long hours, sometimes even at night. But the result is worth all the trouble. The joy of success is much stronger than all the difficulties. And I’m happy that all the members of our team think the same.
Has anybody helped you to cope with problems?
Yes, certainly. When I just started the project it was entirely different from what we have now, and was constantly changing. There were only two of us in the team, and we didn’t understand quite clearly what way we should choose. We got better understanding and formed the idea with the help of our first mentor who later joined our team. As for choosing the right target audience and the main theme of the first part of the quest, we’ve got help from the professors of Samara state university. From the very beginning we also get assistance from the Regional innovation centre, I was the participant of their first business accelerating programme StartUpSamara. And wise and qualified mentors and business advisors have been helping us throughout the development of our project.
"Rune the Adventurer and the Firebird" is the first part of an adventure game of "Rune the Adventurer" series. It’s a third-person game with educational content, an absorbing plot and simple gameplay. The main character is a 9-years-old boy Run, our contemporary, who found a time-machine in an abandoned school and turned it on. The time-machine transferred him into the Old Russian world, full of wonders and magic, where the whole action takes place. The boy has to find the way back home, but it’s not going to happen so soon…
The game is imbued with a folklore spirit, but the characters, though quite familiar to Russian people, look not like the way they are usually drawn, still having their Old Russian flavour.
Along with the artwork, it is also music that helps to give the user the sense of immersion into the Old Russian world. Soundtracks are different for every location.
All the characters got the voices of professional actors or children.
The feeling of being inside the game can’t but fascinate any child. Children listen to the dialogues again and again, repeating the words after the characters.
The game is aimed at revision of spelling of the Russian language. The quest has five difficulty modes with the same plot, where the tasks become more and more difficult in accordance with the school curriculum. All the characters got the voices of professional actors or children. The feeling of being inside the game can’t but fascinate any child. Children listen to the dialogues again and again, repeating the words after the characters.
The game is aimed at revision of spelling of the Russian language. The quest has five difficulty modes with the same plot, where the tasks become more and more difficult in accordance with the school curriculum. The game is for schoolchildren. Every difficulty mode is adjusted to the grades from 1 to 5. Although, the game may also be interesting to pre-school children (if they are able to read) and adults wishing to check their knowledge. Little children who can’t read yet are fond of watching the game as a cartoon asking their parens for help with the tasks. The game makes learning more interesting and easy, and helps children make progress in their studies. It’s worthy of note as a game which really combines fun and education.
What devices can it be used on?
The game is recommended for mobile devices, especially tablets. Now it is available at Google Play, and we are planning to make it available at all the main platforms, so that it can be found at App Store, Google Play, Windows Store.