Obvious moves aren’t that interesting. So when it came to light that EA founder Trip Hawkins had a new startup working on a game to teach kids social and emotional learning (SEL), it raised some eyebrows. Well, mine anyway, and possibly Dwayne Johnson’s. Now that game, If…, is live, and it’s no less intriguing in the way it blends high production values and dedication to its mission to create a viable alternative to much of what school-aged children might otherwise play on their iPads.
The story of If… (the title is inspired by a Rudyard Kipling poem of the same name) unfolds on a planet called Ziggurat where anthropomorphic dogs and cats once lived together in harmony. But something has happened to upset the balance, and it’s up to your child’s customized canine character to get to the bottom of it, starting with a special town called Greenberry. Your guide is named YouDog, a mentor figure who’s one part Yoda, one part Mr. Miyagi and one part man’s best friend.
Other characters follow through the portal to Greenberry in short order to help you with the literal rebuilding. This is the least compelling part of the gameplay, requiring the simple gathering of several resources to restore buildings to their former glory. Read more »