If you’ve been following the Filament Games blog for a while now, you know the origin story of our dear mascot, the Filabee. Recently, upon reminiscing on our favorite bee and how our mascot came to be, we realized something – that we’d never shared the origin story of our company itself! It’s quite the story, so settle in and read on for the origin story of Filament Games.
CEO Dan White, left, and CCO Dan Norton, right
Our story begins in the hallowed halls of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where two Dans and an Alex met at the Academic Co-Lab, where they focused on researching digital learning. UW-Madison, being a rich space for game-based learning, was the place where our future CEO Dan White, future CCO Dan Norton, and future CTO Alex Stone would meet legendary game-based learning scholars such as Constance Steinkuhler, Kurt Squire, James Paul Gee, and Rich Halverson.
As part of his research, James Gee hired Dan White as a Project Assistant and empowered him to work on an oceanic science game. Dan made a prototype of this game, and then incorporated as a business at James’ prompting. Filament Games was born!
Dan then took his prototype to the Games+Learning+Society (GLS) Conference. Afterward, he was invited by Ben Sawyer, who was in the audience for Dan’s GLS presentation and appreciated Filament’s vision for games, to present a session at the Serious Games Summit. Through this session, Filament Games was connected with a representative of the Kauffman Foundation, who encouraged the team to apply for a grant to fund the development of the game. That game eventually became Resilient Planet, which was owned and distributed through JASON Learning and National Geographic.
From there, Filament went on to create many games with JASON Learning. While we’re still proud of the Resilient Planet game, it was created on the Torque3D engine, and therefore not as accessible to schools as our founding partners wanted it to be. From there, they made Coaster Creator, a Flash game that worked much better for schools. Filament’s work resulted in exponential growth for JASON Learning!
Around the same time, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor founded OurCourts (now known as iCivics). James Gee convinced her that using game-based learning for this project would be impactful. Thanks to his encouragement and introduction, Filament was drafted to do work with OurCourts, starting with a game called Do I Have a Right?. Do I Have a Right? became a hit, putting OurCourts on the map, and just like in the case of JASON Learning, resulted in exponential growth! And that brings us to the end of this origin story. At least for now…
Like most things, Filament Games started as an idea: learning games should be both high quality and accessible. Our founding partners were driven forward by this belief. This initial prioritizing of the quality and the wide-spread availability of our games eventually turned into our five core principles for creating impactful learning games: engagement, efficacy, usability, beauty, and polish. No game should compromise these principles just because it’s an educational game, and we have our humble beginnings and our founding partners to thank for the standard to which we hold ourselves and our games today!
More Filament Games history: