Bidding a Fond Farewell to 2016

BY Brandon Pittser
As 2016 is consigned to history, we can confidently say that this past year has been dynamic, briskly challenging, and thoroughly interesting. Between the excitement of new technologies and the comfort of steady old friends, Filament Games had a good year, and so we are bidding a fond farewell to 2016. Here’s a few of the highlights we came up with as we toasted the new year:

Virtual Reality
With the launch of its inaugural consumer offerings, the medium of Virtual Reality took the industry by storm in 2016, and it certainly has our attention. This blog has seen a lot of writing about this topic, because there’s a lot to consider in terms of how VR changes learning. We’ve looked at VR’s significant impact on identity in games, business strategy, and even K-12 classrooms, and found that the potential in each of these areas is monumental, especially with a winning combination of context and content. We anticipate continued exciting developments in the realm of VR in 2017.

Ed Tech Spending
If you’ve been reading Ed Tech outlets for the past few years, you’ve probably seen a fairly steady stream of articles about the coming changes in curriculum spending, and the imminent dominance of digital curriculum. Per this recent report highlighted by THE Journal, 2016 may have been the year when that predicted dominance finally started to materialize. Among the statistical takeaways was the fact that spending on digital curriculum jumped by 25 percent in 2016 and, for the first time, was weighted more toward organizational spending than individual teacher spending. Additionally, 86 percent of schools and districts surveyed said they plan to increase spending on digital curriculum in 2017. These are promising signs for digital curriculum providers. Read more here.

We’ve been working with iCivics for most of our company’s existence, having made more than 20 games for their robust, widely-used civics platform that is currently clocked in at over 44 million lifetime plays. In partnership with iCivics, we released new 2016 versions of Win the White House and Executive Command, boasting new features and mobile compatibility. We also had the honor of being featured alongside iCivics in a New York Times retrospective about Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and her stewardship of iCivics - read more here.

As our major first-party launch this year, Diffission has a place near and dear to our hearts. In case you missed our original launch, Diffission is a fractions learning game in which players slice through deceptively simple shapes, dismantle obstacles, manipulate swap and dissolve blocks, and strive to earn the coveted title of Diffissionist. You can check it out here and read our interview with the lead engineer Alex Beauchesne to learn more about the development process behind the game.

Indie EDU Game Dev Partnerships
This was a great year for new additions to the Filament Learning storefront. Along with our initial third-party offering of The Counting Kingdom by Little Worlds Interactive, we now proudly offer Sleep Furiously EDU by Playmation Studios and Brainquake Math by Brainquake as content offerings in the Filament Learning Games Library. Check these new titles out for engaging ways to learn about numeracy and grammar, and stay tuned in 2017 for more releases from our incredible friends in the indie educational game development community!

Filament Games Podcast
2016 saw the launch of the Filament Games podcast, the only podcast we’re aware of that focuses exclusively on game-based learning. In each episode, Dan Norton and I bring you learning game industry news, the inside scoop on Filament Games, and a generous portion of general nonsense. Check out all the episodes here and let us know what you think!

Extra Credits
It’s always exciting for us when educational games get attention from more mainstream press outlets, so we would be remiss if we didn’t mention Extra Credits’ “Classroom Metrics” episode, featuring the Sun Prairie Area School District and a case study about Planet Mechanic, our game about the sun, earth, and moon system. Check the episode out to learn about the state of games in the classroom and what you can do to get the word out about learning games and game-based learning.

That’s 2016 in review, but it’s only a quick skim off the top. If there’s something you want to highlight that we’ve missed, share your reflections and memories in the comments below!