I often get asked what Professor S. is and how it works. As the game evolved over the years, so did my answer to this question. When I first started working on Professor S. I was unaware of this problem: when you create something new it means that there exists no point of reference to quickly explain what it is that you do. For example, if I had started a burger restaurant I might have said: “it’s like McDonald’s but with extra ketchup” and people would have immediately understood.
I learned that when you create an innovative product, you have to be at least as creative in explaining as in making it. So, as time went by, I got better at responding to the question. Here is my current answer:
Professor S. works like an interactive web series where the audience (mostly primary school kids) get to talk to the characters via an online chat that is hosted on a mysterious machine. The characters Professor S. and Jeanette quickly make friends with the pupils and ask them for a little favour. And this is how it starts …
Professor S. is a story about two young scientists: Professor S. and Jeanette. The two have built a time machine and accidentally begin their journey with an unfinished navigation system. They quickly learn that traversing vast distances in time and space can be very troublesome if you can’t predict where you will land. To add insult to injury they share their journey with a truculent AI. The trailer below will give you a taste of what that looks like:
Together, Professor S. and Jeanette experience a series of time machine breakdowns and adventures, during the course of which they solve many difficult quests and puzzles. Because time travel also causes memory loss, they enlist help from the only people they can reach in the present: a class of primary school kids.
Through their own website, Professor S. and Jeanette send video and audio messages, letters and digital notes to the kids asking for help with tricky challenges. With the time portal, they can even send objects like motivational cookies to the kids to help them solve the tasks. Watch the video below to find out how the time portal works:
Professor S. is both an online game AND an interactive web series. It’s a time-travel adventure aimed at kids aged 8-12. What is unique about it is that kids can actually talk to the characters in the show (Jeanette and Professor S.) through a web chat. What they don’t know is that behind the scenes, the teacher can also access the site and answer them as Professor S. or Jeanette. The students think they are talking to time-travelling scientists when in reality, they are talking to their classroom teacher.
With the school curriculum and the web series as a framework, pupils and teachers co-create a story that lasts for the entire school year. Jeanette and Professor S. are always in trouble and have plenty of quests and errands for the children. Most tasks are solved in the real world. When a quest is complete, the pupils return to the computer to report the results.
This teaching method radically elevates kids’ motivation and seamlessly blends offline activities into the online game. The old question that many students ask: “Why am I learning this?” now has a new answer: “Because I want to help Jeanette and Professor S.”
If you are a teacher and you would like to try Professor S. with your pupils, you can sign up for a free trial here.
I am always open for questions and suggestions so feel free to get in touch or leave a comment below.