Singapore – February 1, 2013 – ShiftRunner Pte. Ltd. announced today that award-winning UK game developer, Dubit Ltd., will create its innovative new virtual world, Pandoo Nation, an exciting online fantasy rescue game for kids that has consequences in the real world.
“This is a unique game ShiftRunner conceived,” says Matthew Warneford, Chief Technology Officer for Dubit, a games development studio that has been creating games for leading brands, including Cartoon Network and BBC Worldwide, for more than 10 years.
“Pandoo Nation is a hybrid that creates a stand-alone category for itself,” says Warneford. “It is part virtual world, like Club Penguin, part real-time strategy game, reminiscent of Age of Empires, and part narrative adventure game, like the Zelda series. Beyond that, what really sets it apart is that it is the first game for kids where winning involves actually doing something positive in the real world.”
ShiftRunner founder and CEO Anthony Blass sums up Pandoo Nation this way: “We think it’s the first entertainment game for young kids that parents will want them to play. And we think they will want them to play a lot. You can’t win at Pandoo Nation without becoming a more engaged and aware global citizen.”
Pandoo Nation is a subscription-based virtual fantasy world for kids ages 8-12 that encourages them to think and act on behalf of others. It rewards acts of honor, sacrifice and integrity.
The game is connected to the real world through a non-profit sister organization, Pandoo Foundation, which funds schools, clinics, wells and livestock in developing countries. It also facilitates micro loans for working poor people. Kids who excel at Pandoo Nation get to choose what they want to fund – a specific school or clinic, for example, in the real world. Or they may choose to fund a specific loan candidate. Pandoo Foundation is funded by subscription revenue from Pandoo Nation.
“In some ways, we turn 5th graders into bankers,” Blass says. “The game has an element of financial literacy to it that is unique.”
Pandoo Nation is not the first game with an improve-the-world ethos. The challenge, say Blass and Warneford, is to make a game that is highly entertaining and commercially successful while camouflaging the instructive and educational parts in a way that parents see it but kids don’t, at least not at first.
“Kids can smell a classroom,” says Warneford. “In order for Pandoo Nation to be successful,
it must first persuade kids that it is the best game for them, the most exciting and the most engaging. We believe kids want to do the right thing, and Pandoo Nation facilitates that. But we also believe that kids won’t necessarily do the right thing at the expense of their own entertainment. In other words, doing the right thing is not a call to action until you know what it feels like to do the right thing.”
Blass agrees. One of the keys to the game, he says, is its tension and drama. Pandoo Nation is highly competitive, which kids enjoy, but the competition is to see who can do the most social good, both within the game and in the real world.
“We need to teach kids to care,” Blass says. “We can do that with an exciting game. If Pandoo Nation is as engaging as our preliminary tests indicate, then our message will be persuasive.”
Blass says ShiftRunner conducted an exhaustive study of leading white label game developers worldwide to determine who was best positioned to build a game that fulfills its ambitions. Their choice, he says, came down to two developers in North America and one in Europe.
“We did our research,” Blass says. “We took our time. We have a complex business model with lofty goals. We needed the right partner, one that understood every nuance of what we are trying to achieve. Dubit has a fantastic pedigree, which is the price of admission. What really set Dubit apart in our eyes is the painstaking way it goes about fulfilling even the smallest requirement. We are extremely confident Pandoo Nation is in the right hands.”