TECH in AMERICA (TiA)

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Sifteo Packs Fun Education Into Tiny Cubes

Sifteo Packs Fun Education Into Tiny Cubes

By Lauren Hockenson (courtesy mashable)

Big things can come in small packages. San Francisco startup Sifteo’s first gaming system, Sifteo Cubes, initially looks like nothing more than a series of blocks. But the blocks’ sensors and touchscreen capabilities show off something more exciting — especially for kids.

“The platform itself is inspired by classic playthings like blocks and LEGOs,” says Sifteo co-founder and president Dave Merrill. “But we’re children of the video game area, so a game system based on these classic tools is like the best of both worlds.”

The $129.99 system, which comes with three starter cubes and can accommodate up to 12 blocks (each extra is $29.99), is in its second generation of production. Merrill says the new product, released in November, differs from the first generation in its portability: The system works with an easily carried hub that communicates to each individual block. While the blocks can work together, Merrill adds that they also lend to multiplayer play — something Sifteo is looking at very seriously.

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“What you can expect to see going forward are physical games that really push in the direction of social play,” “What you can expect to see going forward are physical games that really push in the direction of social play,” Merrill explains. “We’re kind of reclaiming social from what the Internet taught us. Social to us is more like a board game social or a card game social.”

Sifteo Cubes work exceptionally with puzzle games, like Bejeweled-style game ChromaSplash, because of each cube’s versatility. Users are challenged to arrange the cubes in very particular ways to solve each puzzle, which requires a lot of lateral thinking.

That extra spatial processing extends outside the puzzle sphere. Adventure RPG Sandwich Kingdom relies on a user’s ability to orient a given map, to visualize a setting beyond the small window he or she sees into the world. The result is a lot of brain work.

“Like many games, it exercises a part of your brain, but it engages a fun play experience first and foremost,” Merrill says. “Sandwich Kingdom isn’t meant to be a learning game, but it forces you to think spatially.”

Sifteo is just getting started with its platform, and Merrill promises many great things to come. The company is not only focused on expanding both single-player and multiplayer games, but also working on greater distribution rates to reach stores all across the country. Like any startup, a lot of growth is ahead, but Merrill feels confident in the small team’s focus.

“We’re committed to keeping the platform stable so we can build,” Merrill says. “But we’re also an engineering company, and we’re thinking about ways we can expand within the gameplay and just add that interactive magic to the overall experience.”

1. Super Monsters Ate My Condo

Adult Swim has a reputation for amazing mobile games, and Super Monsters Ate My Condo is no exception. This is probably one of the most twisted renditions on the match-3 gameplay format: You must match colors of precariously stacked condos to clear them and gain powerups. The only problem? Angry monsters surround your stack and threaten to topple it, unless you feed them the matching color buildings, or clear three of that color.

Super Monsters Ate My Condo is actually a free sequel to Monsters Ate My Condo. It added a time limit for games and boosts that can be activated with in-game currency. This game is highly addictive, and will definitely suck hours of your time as you click for one more turn.

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Thank you. TiA.

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This entry was posted on May 31, 2013 by in GAMING, TOYS, YOUTH.

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