iRead and Digital Games: Introducing fish in a bottle

We are fortunate to have a wide range of expertise and experience on the iRead project team. In a series of blog posts we will introduce each of our partners and find out what motivated them to get involved in the iRead project. Next up is fish in a bottle, introduced by co-founder and head of educational content, Drew Wilkins.

Introducing fish in a bottle

Since 2003, fish in a bottle have been providing innovative and flexible solutions to our client’s digital requirements. With years of experience in game design and development, and clients such as the BBC, Channel 4, Nickelodeon and LeapFrog, fish in a bottle are experts in creating engaging educational content for children of all ages. Not just that, but our years of games industry experience positions us perfectly to create a game that entertains, educates, and engages children.

Drew Wilkins | Co-Founder and Head of Educational Content

As one of the co-founders of fish in a bottle, Drew has a wealth of experience in creating interactive content, games, websites and applications for web and mobile. Drew’s background is in game design and he has been developing games professionally for nearly 20 years.

Dawn Elliott | Production Director

Dawn is a highly skilled and experienced project manager, with 15+ years delivering full life cycle web, and game projects. Her background in project management covers both waterfall and agile methodologies – as well as running projects using hybrid versions of the two. Dawn’s expertise, professionalism, and aptitude for leading the team shines through in everything she does.

Brian Hartley | Senior Game Artist

Brian is an incredibly experienced game artist. Brian joined fish in a bottle from Blitz Games, where he worked as a Senior Environment Artist and had the pleasure of working many successful titles. At fish in a bottle Brian is a steadying hand, helping to guide the direction and visual style of our games.

Alex Bernal | 3D Artist

Having studied architecture in his home country of Mexico, Alejandro transitioned to follow his creative passion for video games. Alex received his BA(Hons) in Digital Film, Games, and Animation from Leeds College of Art and has since been involved in numerous game development projects. His expertise lie in modelling, sculpting, and texturing in 3D. Alex creates characters, environments, and objects which he then brings to life for players through animation.

Ben Price | Junior Game Developer

Ben spent a year with us on placement during his BSc (Hons) course in Computer Games Programming. During his time with us then he worked with clients such as Nickelodeon and Cambridge University Press. Since his return from university, Ben has become an integral part of the game development team.

At university, Ben achieved a first grade mark in every game development module, and in his final year won a ‘Greatest Technical Achievement’ award for a game he lead the development on.

Ben has extensive experience with Unity and other game engines, and has worked on multiple iOS, Android and Windows 8 releases.  

Adam Kaye | Game Developer

As one of our lead developers, Adam is an invaluable member of the team. His can-do attitude, creative thinking, and extensive knowledge of the Unity engine have proven instrumental to a number of mobile games throughout the years. In the past, Adam has led the development on a variety of projects with clients such as Viacom, Disney, and Nick Jr. US.

Sam Nelson | Creative Director

A hugely talented and forward-thinking designer, Sam is responsible for guiding visual style across multiple projects here at fish in a bottle. Sam has worked on numerous apps, games, digital marketing campaigns, and digital strategy – and that’s not only relative to games!

Sam is applying her extensive experience and knowledge of user experience and user interface design to the iRead project to ensure the game’s user experience is second-to-none for children across Europe.

David Durham | Senior Game Developer

David’s background is in advanced game coding, game and app design. He has worked on a diverse number of cross-platform projects for the BBC, CBBC, Disney and LeapFrog. With over a decade of game development experience, David brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to every project he’s involved in.

 Our experience with designing digital games for education

As a well-established digital production studio with a devotion to education and gaming, the opportunity to be involved in the iRead project was unmissable. For us, this project isn’t just about creating an educational game, it’s about building a framework to enable children across numerous countries to develop their reading and language skills effectively. It’s also about creating an experience which inspires and delights our players.

Our approach to game development puts the player at the heart of everything they do, and, as you’d expect, there’s a lot of excitement about this project here at fish in a bottle. It’s an opportunity for us to not only create a game that children love and want to play, but to build that game on a solid framework of adaptive learning technology that helps develop their essential skills. Learning should be fun.

We passionately believe that games and interactivity are among the very best ways to teach and to learn – especially for children. In a classroom environment, it’s often difficult to give children 1-on-1 teaching that’s tailored to them – so supporting that environment with a game offering tailored, adaptive learning means that children are given tasks suited to their level of skill. We’ve found that it’s this responsive pedagogy that brings added value to educational games. The iRead project is an opportunity to offer this adaptive learning on a large scale.

The iRead project is also a great opportunity for us to work with – and learn from – some of the best educational organisations in Europe. We learn from all of the projects we’re involved in and iRead is no exception. We’ve already learnt a great deal about how language is taught and this knowledge has helped our plan for the games to adapt and evolve. This process will continue, particularly as we gather more feedback from the children themselves. There’s a huge amount of really valuable academic research into early years literacy learning that the partners are conducting. Our ambition is to translate this into the game in a way that sets a benchmark for interactive learning best practice for years to come.

We were asked what our motivation is for being involved in iRead. We see games as something much more powerful than just entertainment. Games offer the opportunity to inspire, educate, and change lives. We’re building an experience that children across many countries will enjoy playing, and at the same time we will be helping them to improve the skills they need to read. What could be more motivational than that?

The following video provides a sneak peek at the current status of the project…

iRead Project Game: Early development gameplay from fish in a bottle on Vimeo.

Over time, we’ll be revealing more and more from the iRead project game (which hasn’t yet been named) over on our blog, as well as in the iRead newsletter. Stay tuned!

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