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Case Study: Games at Scale

What can learning games with ambitious goals and large playership accomplish? Read on for a client case study that epitomizes the impact of educational gaming on a grand scale. Check out the details on our work with Twin Cities Public Television (TPT) below, and discover the vast potential of learning games when deployed widely and ambitiously.

Case Study: Twin Cities Public Television, courtesy of Dennis Ramirez, Digital Program Manager – Ready To Learn at TPT

Project Overview

The Skillsville project [the latest project TPT and Filament are working on together] aims to engage children ages 5-8 in building the skills they need to join – and lead – the 21st century workforce, with an emphasis on: 

The curriculum concentrates on five Success Skills: Focus, Organize, Think Differently, Remember, and Feel. At the core of these Success Skills is the “Pause,” which reflects two executive function domains: self-monitoring and impulse control. The careers presented here are also based on the O*net database, which contains hundreds of standardized and occupation-specific descriptors on almost 1,000 occupations covering the entire U.S. economy. The digital components of Skillsville are meant to support and enhance the Skillsville TV show and its curriculum goals.

As learning scientists designing games for Skillsville, we ascribe to a constructivist perspective of knowledge. This is the idea that meaning is something that is made by the individual through our interactions and experiences or socially through culture. Our games allow for players to have somewhat authentic first hand experiences with the subjects they are learning about, while removing barriers to entry, and provide a safe space for exposure where kids can learn from their mistakes

In other words, you don’t have to be an engineer to build something with our games, but we hope that the more you play our games about building, the more you’ll understand the underlying concepts thanks to the experience you had in the games and the surrounding curriculum. With that in mind, our preference when making games is to have them open ended and replayable varying slightly from one playthrough to the next.


We cannot currently share this data [qualitative or quantitative data that demonstrates these games’ impact on learners], but we do work with people to help them conduct their own research with the games if they wish.

Usage Numbers

In the Last Year, Hero Elementary games have had over 9 million plays with about 4,343,095 coming from the PBS KIDS Games app, and 5,036,800 Coming from the PBS Kids Hero Elementary Website. 

On average we’ve had about ~8 million plays per year since the games were published. Which puts us at about ~20+ million plays!

Research Engagements

We have published formal papers on the program’s intervention, but not on the games specifically. This is actually a bit tricky because we’re not studying them in a vacuum. 

There is an interesting bit of research we conducted about if the fantastical elements impact a student’s ability to engage with the content and we have found that this is generally not the case. If anything, it seems to help keep them focused. While most of us who work on educational games and children’s consent generally suspect this was the case, It’s nice to see more data to support it. 


The numbers we’ve seen of the games up on PBS kids have been excellent. The metrics also show that engagement is very high with total playtimes generally doubling that of their peers even after millions of plays! 

Lessons Learned

There’s a lot to be said here, probably enough for a whole other article/report. If we had to choose, I think the most important thing we’ve learned is to design these types of games with a fairly straightforward core loop. This allows most players to engage with the ideas in a meaningful way, but also allows players who are interested/more involved to deviate from the main path and go after the more difficult/interesting things that are not part of the core loop. 

For example, the baseline game might require you to beat the level, but there might be other goals – like beating the level without mistakes, or beating the level in a specific way, that allows the players who are more invested to unlock additional challenges and levels. A good example of this in the games we’ve made with Filament include boss levels in Push-Pull-Puzzles, and the system that draw Beeples to your paintings in Works of Heart.

Future Direction

We plan on making at least two more games with you all that will be featured on the PBS kids website when Skillsville launches in summer of 2025! 

And that concludes our case study on games at scale! These insights not only celebrate the achievements of an exceptional client, but also highlight learning games as powerful tools in shaping how students learn at large. We are proud of be one of the organizations leading the way, steering the course toward a future where learning and gaming seamlessly converge for learners worldwide. 

If you’re interested in creating an educational game for your organization, you’re in the right place. We’re experienced educational game developers, and we want to hear more about your project. Contact us!

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