EA founder’s new startup is making games to help children

Trip Hawkins’ new company If You Can receives US$6.5 million in funds to develop titles that help a child’s social and emotional skill

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Games like Math Blaster, Civilization and Oregon Trail have shown us that video games can educate and entertain at the same time without coming off as forced and trite. Family-oriented users can now add the startup company If You Can to the list of developers to look out for, as it has just released a game that helps children develop their social and emotional skills.

Its founder is none other than the founder of EA and the father of the CD-based 3DO game system, Trip Hawkins. He announced on a Forbes article that he received US$6.5 million in Series A funding to help with future game development tailored for 6 to 12 year olds. “I’d like to quote [abolitionist] Frederick Douglass who said, “It is easier to build strong children than repair broken men. While adults need these skills too, we thought it made sense to start with children.”

The titles are built around the Social and Emotional Learning curriculum that teaches kids how to handle difficult emotions, challenging obstacles like bullying, and show empathy and compassion. Hawkins is using his industry know-how from his days in EA to build his startup team, which consists of veteran educators and game developers.

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“With [Madden sports video game series],” he said, “we had to create an experience for football fans that combined their love of the game with all the things we could with technology, like bringing in stats and interactive plays. It’s that combination of storytelling and game-play mechanics that we can deliver.”

At this point in time, the company’s first game “IF…” is out now on iOS. The first chapter of the adventure game is free, so parents who wish to make their children check out more of the game will need to fork out US$5 a month for a subscription that gives out additional content.

Jonathan Toyad

If you want an elaborate answer on who would win in a fight between Ultraman and Godzilla, Jonathan Toyad is your man. A six-year veteran in the game journalism industry, he did words and videos for outlets such as GameSpot, GameAxis, IGN and Stuff.TV. Fears coyotes and scorched earths.

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