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Introducing the Cypriot startup PlayTask

“Growing up with the rise of social media, we’ve witnessed its impact on our generation’s psychology. Our mission is to infuse children’s screen time with productivity,” says Stefanos Kyprianou.

For the better part of 2023, Kyprianou, together with co-founder Constantinos Clark and a seasoned game designer, has been dedicated to the pursuit of developing the mobile educational game Sparkfield, within the ambit of the startup aptly called PlayTask, to add meaningful substance to the vacuous allure of mobile devices.

The latest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) agency reveals a disconcerting reality: children between the ages of 8 and 10 spend six hours a day, on average, glued to their phone screens; for 11-14-year-olds, it is as many as nine hours per day. The ongoing Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study – a landmark study involving 11,000 children aged 9-10 – found that seven hours of screen time and more, combined with other factors, can interfere with certain aspects of cognitive development, such as attention, memory and problem-solving.

The deleterious effects are compounded when most of that time is spent on aimless social media scrolling. Alas, the complete abrogation of mobile devices from the lives of children seems quixotic at best, so for Kyprianou, the answer is to channel that energy into more productive endeavours. “Games have a huge educational element,” he says, echoing copious amounts of research linking gamification with positive outcomes on students’ learning, behaviour and engagement.

Sparkfield, developed with the consultation of education psychologists, is an engaging 3D world where kids compete in quests and socialise with their friends. It features competitive multiplayer challenges, like a kart racing game where players must grapple with general knowledge questions to steer their karts to the finish line While not the first to mix gaming and education, with the likes of Prodigy and Legends of Learning paving the way, Kyprianou contends that their competitors invariably halt the immersive gaming experience to introduce their education features with, say, a quiz. In Sparkfield, the pedagogical elements are seamlessly interwoven into the fabric of the gameplay.

“Parents like it a lot,” Kyprianou says, alluding to the game’s demo version, “since kids nowadays don’t really care where their education comes from.” The game’s beta version will launch in January 2024, with full release scheduled for June of the same year. To avoid intrusive ads, it will be available on a subscription-based model, starting at €7 per month. Beyond the game, the startup plans to price analytics into the subscription fee. It will provide insights to parents on which subjects their kids fare better, based on how well they perform in the game. “It is another way for parents to bond with their kids,” Kyprianou asserts. The startup is now looking to raise €300,000 to build the 3D assets, add a couple more game developers to the roster and fund ad campaigns – the goal is to reach 2 million users by 2026.

On top of that, Kyprianou wants the startup to become a digital square for kids to connect in; creating such communities tends to be beneficial for any game developer’s bottom line, too. Sparkfield (and any game that follows) will include chat, monitored via pre-made messages at first and eventually by artificial intelligence. “We want to build the primary platform for social interaction amongst kids,” Kyprianou states.

Founders

Stefanos Kyprianou and Constantinos Clark.

What is it?

A developer of mobile educational games designed to enhance kids’ screen-time productivity by blending education in gaming in a seamless way.

Stage

Pre-Seed.

What it aspires to be

The primary platform where kids interact and play online.

Funds received

Bootstrapped.

Funds needed

€300,000.

This interview first appeared in the November edition of GOLD magazine. Click here to view it.

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