After spending time with children in the slums of Nairobi, we discovered that one of their favorite mobile games was Temple Run. Together with our developing team, we therefore decided to build a number of levels of our game that revolved around similar dynamics: running and jumping.

A screenshot from one of our most popular levels to learn letter sounds on SEMA

In our version, our main character SEMA needs to jump to collect ONLY the letter sounds which she hears. In certain parts she can also jump to collect a magic bonus potion which makes her fly to collect all the right letters.

During our field testing, our users told us that this was their favorite game. They were excited and completely absorbed by the game dynamics of running, jumping and flying. The level of difficulty was also just about right and the children could eventually figure out what to do on their own. We did, however, notice some UX problems that we are currently fixing. For example, sometimes users jump to pick the wrong letter just because they love jumping. We are therefore making it clearer by slowing SEMA down every time they mistaken the letter. We are also working to reinforce the pedagogical impact by allowing the letter sounds to be heard more frequently by players.

A screenshot of the magic potion bonus part of our most popular level to learn letter sounds

Given the high engagement rates with this game, we are going to build a number of additional levels that employ similar game play dynamics in different settings and contexts. We’ve already decided upon two of them; one in which SEMA is swimming under water and a second one in which she’ll be driving her magic scooter. As we test these additional games and reinforce the playing dynamics as well as educational outcomes, we’ll likely build more versions.

This month our football game will be ready for testing, and given the children’s unrivalled passion for anything that has to do with the continent’s most played sport, we have great hopes for it and are expecting it to become another favorite.