O Canada! is an educational game for young children between the ages of 8 - 10 that introduces a fun role-playing simulation set against the backdrop of 500 years of Canadian history, from monumental moments such as the naming of the country to interesting but forgotten facts such as the invention of the Hockey Puck!

Take a walk down Canada's cool history! O Canada! is a game for young children between the ages of 8 and 10 that puts them in the driver's seat as they play a fun role-playing simulation that is set against the backdrop of 500 years of Canadian history - from 1497, when Jacques Cartier claimed the east coast for France till 1982, when the Canadian constitution was signed. Along the way, they live through monumental moments in Canada's history - from the origin of the word Canada from the aboriginal 'Kanata' in 1534 to the forming of the Hudson Bay Company in 1670 to replacing the Ball with the Puck in Hockey in 1879!

 

In February 2014, we surveyed 15,000 Young Canadians and asked them questions about Canadian history/culture vs. United States history/culture. 93% knew who the first President of the United States was (George Washington), while only 42% knew who the first Prime Minister of Canada was (John A. MacDonald). 44% knew whose portrait was on a US $100 bill (Benjamin Franklin), while an embarrassing 0% knew who was featured on the Canadian $100 bill (Robert Borden).

There’s a clear problem, felt sharply by Canadian educational and cultural bodies - Even Proud Canadians don’t know much about Canadian History. Worse so, Canadians are more familiar with American history and culture than they are with Canadian history and culture because of the economic and cultural influence that our neighbour to the south has. In order to make Canadian history and culture ‘cool’ to Young Canadians, an interest has to be sparked from a really young age. Even computer games in Canadian schools that teach North American expansion history, like Oregon Trail, teach it through a US historical lens.

O Canada! is going to be an entertaining role-playing simulation game that takes young children between the ages of 8 and 10 into a journey that begins in the 15th century, when French and English settlers first arrive in “The New World”, and ends in 1982 - when Canada assumes responsibility for its own constitution.

1497 - John Cabot claims New World territory for England and sails to England to report his findings. On his second voyage across the Atlantic the following year, he is lost at sea!

Game Design Mechanic - The player disguises themselves as a shipmate and must help John Cabot find his way.

 

Over the five hundred in-game years, the player gets to experience monumental historical events, decisions and characters that have shaped our country into what it is today. They are going to be an active participant in the journey through two game styles - role-play and simulation.

1670 - The Hudson Bay Company is founded by Royal Charter. Trade becomes integral to the game - fur, spice, muskets and all other resources that played an integral part in the early history of Canada.
Game Design Mechanic - The player must help The Hudson Bay Company grow by trading resources that are available in abundance in one region and then selling them in areas where they are in much demand.

 

The aim of the game is not to turn young players into overnight experts of Canadian history and culture - but imbibe in them a better understanding of decisions that had to be taken and challenges that had to be met for Canada to be what it is today.



 

On a visit to the museum in the year 2330, the player accidentally erases Canada’s History! Now the player must take on the role of a time traveller who must go back in time to set things right.


Principal Characteristics - Content. The player will play the game against the backdrop of not only monumental moments in Canadian History, but also against the backdrop of interesting but forgotten moments in our history that quintessentially define what being Canadian means. Including the invention of the Hockey Puck!


Principal Characteristics - Design. O Canada!’s core objective is to impart key knowledge onto its users, though maintaining engagement throughout the experience will be the game’s highest priority.  In the role-playing element, the player is going to be an integral part of the decision making process, and along with real historical figures, will make decisions about real historical events. The strategic simulation element of the game will test the player’s ability to manage resources, meet challenges, and expand settlements, cities and eventually borders to see if they can do as good a job of surviving - and later thriving - as the Canadians before them did. Through experimenting, players get to see the direct impact of their choices, and are able to see how certain choices impacted Canadian history, and perhaps societies or governments in general. So, even though our players will be molding their own version of Canadian history, based on their personal decisions, they will have a novel opportunity to gain greater perspective on the reasons and factors behind these great moments in history by making these decisions themselves.


Principal Characteristics - Technology. Learning Analytics - a unique opportunity for teachers now exists thank to the rapid growth of gaming technology. We are able to monitor details such as player engagement, including tracking moments of confusion or frustration. This data could prove invaluable to teachers, who could be given the exact points of the curriculum with which a student is struggling.


As detailed in the section around Principal Characteristics, children will be taken on a time-travelling roleplaying journey where they have to recreate Canada’s history in their own way by reliving actual experiences and events. The following are a few examples of the kind of content the user will face, as well as how the event will translate into an interactive game experience.

 

  • 1497 - John Cabot claims New World territory for England and sails to England to report his findings.  On his second voyage across the Atlantic the following year, he is lost at sea!

    • Game Design Mechanic - The player disguises themselves as a shipmate and must help John Cabot find his way.

 

  • 1534 - Jacques Cartier claims Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick for France. The next year, he meets two aboriginals who direct him to the route towards their village - and Kanata was the generic word for village. Cartier labels everything North of the St. Lawrence river, ‘Canada’.

    • Game Design Mechanic - Cartier reads from a list of ridiculous names that he wants to call this new land. The player must convince him otherwise.

 

  • 1670 - The Hudson Bay Company is founded by Royal Charter. Trade becomes integral to the game - fur, spice, muskets and all other resources that played an integral part in the early history of Canada.

    • Game Design Mechanic - The player must help The Hudson Bay Company grow by trading resources that are available in abundance in one region and then selling them in areas where they are in much demand.

 

  • 1707 - Denis Papin builds the first steamboat! Modern Canadian inventions start appearing in the gameplay!

    • Game Design Mechanic - Denis Papin does not have all the parts he needs to finish his invention. Use your new trading abilities to barter resources to obtains all the parts necessary.

 

 

The project will be developed and run using the Unity3D engine, which will handle graphics as well as gameplay. Everything else, including the map-generation technology, the analytics engine, as well as the core technology that will be the main library for the game (including narrative, role-playing and simulation elements), will be developed in-house.


Specifically, the data capture technology for analytics for teachers will be developed specifically for educational purposes from the ground up, requiring a lot of research and prototyping.




O Canada! aims, by design, to promote Canadian historical and cultural elements. The potential for O Canada!’s legacy is severalfold - from the obvious to the more subtle.


It’s about Canada.


O Canada! solves a uniquely Canadian problem - though super rich in its sheer breadth and diversity, Canadian culture and history is losing out to US culture and history in terms of its ‘coolness’ factor among young Canadians. A game that can make Canadian cultural and history ‘cool’ will leave a legacy for years to come, and will also reduce reliance on historical games that students in Canada play but which paint a picture through a US-lens, like Oregon Trail.


But we’re also leaving a legacy within the gaming world in General.


Maps are an integral part of many video games, and O Canada! will be featuring many maps in its simulation component. However, by not hard-coding the maps in and actually creating a Unity plugin that will let a map be created according to certain parameters, we are essentially creating a standalone tool within Unity that could be applied to other games as well - not only for other games by Victory Square Games that might require maps to be made, but also for games made by other studios. The Map Generation Tool has potential to be licensed out or made available for free to game developers around the world to use in their own projects.




We are targeting young children who are technology savvy and are at-ease on mobile tablet devices.


The game is being targeted towards Canadian young children between the ages of 8 and 10. As detailed in the distribution strategy, we are considering two versions of the game: one for the mass-market, and one designed specifically for elementary schools (and which will have enhanced features such as analytics for teachers).


Just as a game like Oregon Trail found distribution among millions of school children by coming preloaded on computers in the computer-boom in schools, we want to find distribution among Canadian schools just as the tablet boom in schools is starting to take place.



O Canada! has a two-pronged distribution strategy - one for the mass-market version of the game, and one for the school-specific version of the game. In both cases, we have identified and, in some cases, already received a commitment from strategic market channel partners to ensure the game gets as wide of a reach as possible.


For the Mass-Market version of the game, we have committed letter of intents from major players such as Microsoft Canada and BlackBerry (Research In Motion) to feature the app on the homepage of their app stores. There are over 110 Million sold devices that are running Windows 8, and over 80 Million BlackBerry devices.


For the school-specific version, the strategy is to partner with a Canadian Company like DataWind, that is creating waves all over the world for low-cost educational tablet. We will then be partnering with school boards to provide them with tablets that come preinstalled with O Canada! To that extend, we have already begun talks with both DataWind as well as the Surrey School District for a pilot project. Both organizations have expressed interest in the project and want to discuss in detail once the project approaches closer to production.


Our two market channel partners, Microsoft Corporation and BlackBerry (Research in Motion), have both provided us with letter of intents to feature the app on the homepage of their app stores. There are over 110 Million sold devices that are running Windows 8, and over 80 Million BlackBerry devices.

Microsoft Corporation has committed to nominating O Canada! as a spotlight app in the Windows 8 App store, and engaging their marketing manager to actively promote O Canada! app and brand. They have also committed to showcasing it at events, promoting via Microsoft social media, and offering us devices to help design, test and launch O Canada! on Windows 8 devices.

 

blackberry logo.jpg

BlackBerry has committed to featuring O Canada! in the BlackBerry World App Store once the game is complete. They have also provided us with devices and tech support during our development and production periods.





Oregon Trail and HistoriCanada would be our two main competitors.

A key differentiator from the two competitors above is that O Canada! educates through narrative with gameplay mechanics that are easy to adopt for non-gamers.





Two versions of O Canada! will be released: one for mass-market release on iOS, Android, Windows and Blackberry (with strategic distribution partnership with the last two), and another specifically designed for elementary schools.


The key difference between the two is that the school version will come with added bonuses of analytics for teachers and group missions inside the game that can be undertaken by a class.


The revenue model for both versions will be as follows:


  • Mass-Market version


The game will come with a one-time purchase price-point of $2.99. With sales of over 5.4 million, games like The Room and The Room 2 have proved that games that focus on great player experience can be just as lucrative with a one-time purchase point as the thousands of Free 2 Play games that rely on psychological hooks and loops to get people to pay.  Our partnership with BlackBerry and Microsoft positions O Canada as a featured/spotlight app.  These market channel parnter benefits have historically resulted in over 30,000 downloads of our game within months!


  • School version:


The game will be licensed to elementary schools and education boards for an annual, recurring license fee. It should be noted that primary school teachers are given a dedicated budget for educational aides which they exercise authority over - and we already have buy-in from four teachers in the Greater Vancouver area. We will be utilizing our development sprint to further develop relationships with school boards across BC and Canada so that we have committed buy-in on large scale before we move into production of the game.


The Innovation within the School Revenue Model.


An alternative and innovative approach that we are considering is preloading the game on a low-cost educational tablet and then licensing the device + game to the schools for a cost of $10/student/year as opposed to just the game, with the first year being free. This ensures that the school’s existing resources are not overburdened while ensuring that there is no immediate financial strain on the school or school board to ‘buy-in’ to the game.