Questionaut: School Got Better

By John Walker on March 15th, 2008 at 11:28 pm.

Can you remember the difference between “median” and “mode”? I really cannot think of a more beautiful way to find myself worrying about having forgotten maths aimed at 11 year olds than a new game by Samarost creators, Amanita Design. It’s called Questionaut, and it’s been created for the BBC’s Bitesize educational site.

It's a maths tree!

It’s a combination of Amanita’s distinctive exploratory gaming (you search the astonishingly gorgeous backgrounds for items that give you a clickable mouse interface, and respond to the results) and Key Stage 2 questions on a broad range of subjects. Once again, the music and sound effects are created by Floex, Tomáš Dvořák, and are all simply stunning. I’ve played through the game a second time to reach stage 5, so I could listen to one of the ambient, looping tunes as I write this. I’d have actually revised at school if these means had been available.

ARGH! 11 year olds are smarter than me!

Obviously the questions will mostly be a little easy for the average reader (although I am embarrased to have screwed one up about a grammatical term – I’ve got reputation to maintain!). The subjects follow Key Stage 2, from maths to science to English language, with five correctly answered questions letting you float into the next stage. The BBC have put enough effort into these questions that giving the wrong answer will result in an explanation why it is wrong, and even right answers explained in case you’re a cheeky guesser. There’s also enough that the same won’t appear twice for quite a while.

But hey, forget the questions and play it because it’s another beautiful endeavour by Amanita. If you have an 11 year old nearby, all the better.

Here’s a couple more screenshots because it’s so gorgeous. Click on the moon shot for a desktop background-sized image, in case you’re as taken with it as me.

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26 Comments »

  1. Janek says:

    Is it just me, or is his basket suspended from the Moon by a particularly large condom?

  2. John Walker says:

    That’s why I’m playing through the game for a third time, and hopefully this time won’t be distracted by someone walking into my room shouting about Angelina Jolie right before the balloon deflates, to replace that one.

  3. MisterBritish says:

    I love this stuff. I just watched the scentence building animation go round and around.

    Also, “Homophone”? Did they make that word up post ’98 or something?

  4. Hidden_7 says:

    I recall learning that word in elementary school, and I was in high school in ’99 so… no?

    Man, the fact that I got some of those number ones just proves how bad at Math I really am. Real pretty though.

  5. indirectx says:

    Absolutely stunning. If you ever needed proof that games are art, there it is.

  6. Aimless says:

    I’ve been looking at going to university lately, but I’d much rather have Amanita handle all my education.

    Oh, I also got two or three questions wrong, so I probably shouldn’t apply anyway.

  7. Matt says:

    This stuff is fun! Let me try…

    Stage 2 looks like:

    a. A cat
    b. A chair
    c. Testicles

    Answers on a postcard…

  8. drunkymonkey says:

    And who said edutainment was doomed to fail? It’s just normally very badly implemented.

    That house and pond screenshot is particularly impressive.

    Will be making sure any young learners I know hear about this, yes.

  9. Alex says:

    If you ever needed proof that games are art, there it is.

    To be fair – although I absolutely love the Samorost games, they do look fantastic and have great soundtracks, I wouldn’t immediately call it art.

  10. Jon says:

    I very nearly gave up on the old man with the radio signals and the four coloured bar charts going up and down. For the life of me I couldn’t work out what I had to do and then as soon as it hit me I couldn’t believe how I hadn’t seen it.

  11. Leeks! says:

    I just wrote a University exam where I had to know the difference between median and mode for one question… Man, f*** my life.

    But seriously– I’m definitely going to pass this one on to my little sister.

  12. Lunaran says:

    I wouldn’t immediately call it art.

    But the art in them is fantastic.

    Unfortunately I’ll never get to see it because there’s an owl and a bird in the knothole and neither of them do anything so I’m giving up. Anyone who complains about adventure games having gone away clearly doesn’t remember how decidedly unfun hitting a brick wall is. :(

  13. Arathain says:

    Pull the cat’s tail. That’ll get you started.

  14. Leeks! says:

    @Lunaran

    I think Alex was referring to the game as a whole being referred to by that troublesome blanket term, not the art design, which I think everyone can agree is lovely. At least that was my reaction to the comment, but I didn’t post it because I felt like Alex already had. Hopefully we’re on the same page.

  15. Mike says:

    Aww, man. The number-bees harvesting from the arithmetic tree is lovely.

  16. hobbes says:

    Hmm, lovely, obviously.

    BUT:

    Most people wouldn’t put up with this kind of gameplay (find active object, click on active object) from most other games, so why’s it okay just cause its lovely to look at?

    I mean, its a bit irrelevant here, because the questions are the thing, but generally, why do Amanita get a free ride?

  17. Mike says:

    Plenty of games like this are popular. Orisinal Games (ferryhalim.org) for instance, or Google for Hapland. The idea behind them is similar to adventure games, in my opinion – simple gameplay that can take a long time to unlock.

    But while you’re spending that time aimlessly exploring, you’re looking and hearing awesome things. It’s like an interactive Monet. A bit.

  18. Sucram says:

    Pity I can’t seem to get this to work offline.

    I often have to get software for schools which don’t have any internet connection. Really annoying how much is online only now.

  19. Mike says:

    Hmm. Can you really not get the .swf to stand alone?

    It seems a bit odd that it mixes subjects so much. Which lesson would you show this in?

  20. Aimless says:

    Most people wouldn’t put up with this kind of gameplay (find active object, click on active object) from most other games, so why’s it okay just cause its lovely to look at?

    Because it’s more of an exploration game than a puzzle game, I think. The draw is often simply poking at a beautiful world to see what happens, and Amanita’s games don’t outstay their welcome; you reach the end before boredom sets in. Also there is always some logic to each successive step, although random clicking will most likely see you through in the end.

    Many people pine for the olden days of point’n'click adventures and those were often filled with the most obtuse puzzles ever created. In many ways their gameplay was the same “find active object, click on active object” system simply dressed up as something else.

    Having said that, I do hope Machinarium leans more towards observational or logic puzzles as opposed to hotspot combing.

  21. Sucram says:

    @Mike, when I tried to get the .swf file on its own just got the loader.

    You’re correct it’s not really a learning tool. Actually, I was mainly curious just to use it to quickly compare how some of the students at my schools compare to those those taught under the English system. Would be likely able to get a few more to try this than a traditional test.

    Have often thought some game developers should use their engines and assets to quickly put together some educational software. Retooling those fancy physics engines or maybe CA making TW into an interactive history encyclopaedia. Probably for home use, more than school use though.

  22. matt says:

    That was very beautiful and inspirational as always from the folks at Amanita Design. Gotta love the dreamy atmosphere and artwork, just a lot of fun, even if aimed at youngsters.. damn i must say i got a couple ones wrong too (though my excuse would be that english is not my native language.. does that count ?).

  23. oliver says:

    This game is a comple waste of time. What kind of non suicidal kid wants to play this sh*t. This is the kind of thing which drives children to smashing their computer. I will be suprised if the creator has not yet recieved bills for the cost of emotionaly disturbed pills. The game is so depressing I would’nt be suprised if Jack the ripper created it. If I was given the choice of swimming in a shark invested fish tank or playing this game I would flip a coin.

  24. candygirl says:

    i don’t know the answers for stage 5! help me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  25. candygirl says:

    email me on missycool_97@hotmail.co.uk

    if you know how to get the questions up and the answers!

    from candygirl

  26. megha says:

    i won questionaut it is so easy i got help in google videos

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