The Land of Venn-Geometric Defense by iMagine Machine LTD combines the lure of gaming with an educational punch. Based on Van Hiele’s Levels of Geometric thought, which is that geometry is learned through experience rather than on a developmental readiness model. And experience is what kids get when venturing into the Land of Venn. Beginning with targeting a dot in space and progressing to more complex shapes, kids experience in rapid sequence the ability to perceive, imagine, and draw shapes to battle foes and bosses like any current console defense or runner type game. It is truly brilliant in its progression and thought patterns in teaching the material. From a sensory point of view, it plays on using both ambient and central vision, to reorient concepts of space, proportion/sizing of shapes, and motor planning to draw them from different points of view. It also syncs hearing with a motor act helping you anchor to space as the narrator calls out the play of action. This will be a fav of many math enthusiasts, but I think 2nd graders and under may have a harder time processing all the sensory input. We had one child in the younger age range give up on the game most likely due to sensory overload.
Game play centers on the citizens of Venn (the Kabouters) who guard the pools of Magic Juice from the Bookkenriders (the monsters who work for the evil wizard, Apeirogon and suck up the magic juice with straws). Your job is to keep those pools filled! Our guide and narrator is the Wizard Worm Lumbricus, who instructs on battle strategies and lends general support. The art work has the vibe of Yellow Submarine, the Beatles Movie or other cartoons from the late 1960’s or 70’s. - And the narrator? ...well let’s just say he’s crazy fun in a mad scientist kind of way.
There are three levels of play with 10 mini games in each level. The last game in each level has you battling a boss. (A boss is a super monster with super powers). It took me 3 days to beat the boss in the first land, and I had to have a kid help me get through the rest when it came to battling the bosses. Tip: Always include the boss in the tenth game when making your specific geometric structure. You need speedy reflexes, good vision, and never play without a kid if you’re closing in on 50 years old or above. If the specific mission is completed, you are awarded 1-3 stars and points. Points can be used to buy magical potions or power ups such as the wind, water fireballs, etc. You are allowed up to four power ups per game, and you must not only the budget but plan what is best to use and when you will need them. The first Land of Venn has you targeting a dot in space, a line, and an open shape. There are 13 different shapes to draw in all, and before passing on to the next Land, you must pass through a gate and be quizzed on what you have just learned. In the second Land of Venn, you are not only using the shapes from the first land, but triangles in all their varied shapes are introduced and yield more power when drawn. If using lesser powers, it may not fully kill bad guys. The third Land of Venn has shapes with four sides. The game is constantly shifting with possibilities to draw the more powerful shapes in any and every direction. Active trial and error, learning from past mistakes, and using the information to plan a new mode of attack, all help kids learn to problem solve. You must stay alerted using both your ambient (peripheral) vision and your central or focused vision. If not, those little villains get their straws in the magic juice, suck it down, and then you are done for it.
The chance to improve your score and redo a previous level is ever present, and that brings in more cash for the wizard wall of options. A level is completed if you knock out the designated number of bad guys before they drink the magical juice from the pools. The game is said to adjust the levels of difficulty as needed, which is critical to stay invested in playing and move forward. This is not a game for kids that have difficulty motor planning or have difficulty with visual motor integration, but a grand one for helping kids want to learn. Learning spatial skills will long serve their purpose well into adulthood, so why not make it fun?
About the Author
Jo Booth has been an Occupational Therapist for over 30 years and currently works in Pediatrics with early intervention. She sees kids newly diagnosed on the spectrum as well as medically fragile kids. She loves to move, explore and play every day; so that "her kids" grow up to be healthy independent learners.