From swashbuckling adventures to saving princesses to zombie-killing survival shooters, video games are often thought of as an entertaining, and sometimes competitive means to pass time.
But one Knight recognized video games’ potential to do more.
After his niece was diagnosed with a learning disability in 2011, UCF alumnus Gerard Merritt founded CelleC Games, an Orlando-based video game company that develops educational video games primarily for mobile devices.
“As an uncle, I didn’t want to believe that,” said Merritt, CEO of CelleC and course director at Full Sail University. “So on the day when that occurred, we just came home, and I just said, ‘You know what? Don’t worry about it, let’s just play some video games.’”
Merritt noticed that his niece had no problems understanding the complicated narrative, the scoring and achievement system and other advanced aspects of the video game.
“I was like, ‘Well, wait a second, if you have a learning disability, how is it you can pick up all of these different things going on all at the same time?” Merritt said. “So that’s when the light bulb went off — being able to utilize video games as an educational medium for this new age of children.”
CelleC Games makes educational video games for grades K-12, with a primary focus on grades K-5.
Each year, Full Sail students have the opportunity to become involved with CelleC Games through the company’s internship program. Those who are accepted into the program have the chance to design and develop their own educational video game for CelleC.
Full Sail student Nykira Parham has been working for CelleC Games for six months as a 2-D Artist.
“At OrlandoiX, I saw some kids play some games that I had no personal hand in, but I think it was really enjoyable seeing those kids learning and having fun while doing it,” Parham said. “I kind of got that feeling when I was younger playing Jumpstart and other educational games on my Windows 95, and it kind of invoked that nostalgic feeling in me again.”
The games are meant to serve as a supplementary learning tool for parents and teachers to help further a child’s learning outside of the classroom. The games cover subjects such as spelling, math, science, history and more.
“In this day and age, kids want to be engaged. They want to learn and then apply it,” Merritt said. “I’m not trying to take over schools, and I’m not trying to get ride of teachers. I’m saying, ‘Here’s another way to help your children learn.’ They may not learn the traditional way.”
The games are available on Android, Amazon, Apple and Windows.
Eric Gutierrez is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter at @atticus_adrift or email him at EricG@CentralFloridaFuture.com.