Currently sitting at #18 in the Top Paid Apps chart for Education apps in the App Store is Ululab‘s “Slice Fractions“, the game released last month by a trio of Montrealers who carry heavyweight experience in the gaming and tech industry.
Ululab was founded with the goal of creating “polished and effective learning apps based on the latest, scientifically validated teaching practices.” The cofounders are Francois Boucher-Genesse, Jean-Guillaume Dumont and Dany Joly.
Boucher-Genesse worked as a gameplay designer on the Halo series, eventually leaving Bungie for his master’s degree in education at Université du Québec à Montreal (UQAM). There he met Dumont, a former journalist who had been published in several Quebec newspapers like La Presse and Le Devoir, then also completing his education degree.
On Boucher-Genesse, Joly said that “he enjoyed what he had done for the industry but he was looking for something where the impact of what he was doing would be easier to measure.” The former Halo developer wanted to create something that was both educational and fun to play for children, still to this day a challenging feat for any game developer. Eventually the three guys came together and focused on their first mobile game, Slice Fractions. Currently it costs $2.99 in the app store.
With Ululab, the trio is “trying to do exercises with kids where we take these things that they want to learn and integrate them into the game mechanics, essentially,” said Joly. “And that requires a lot of time, and for the game designers it’s a challenge. But once its done you have a game that kids enjoy playing.”
He said that kids these days play way more games than adults did when they were kids, and so they can easily get bored of one within two days. “If you give them something that’s not fun they’ll realize that really fast, so we have a high bar that we’re trying to meet.”
Slice Fractions features challenging puzzles, colourful artwork and memorable characters that introduce users to fractions in a motivating and intriguing world. The app is kid-friendly with no ads or in-app purchases. It’s available in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish.
“We’ve worked very hard to create a polished and intuitive experience that will allow children to
understand fractions — the bottleneck of early math education — by themselves,” said Boucher-Genesse at the time of launch.
Looking back, Joly said the game was received very well during the first month. “Kids enjoyed it, parents were really happy, we were featured by Apple in about 90 countries. In all markets the reviews were really good and even adults were having fun with it.”
Since the launch the team has focused on adding more content to the game, which is what users have been asking for. They will begin focusing on new titles soon as well. Slice Fractions was completely bootstrapped and now the team feels comfortable going after a seed round, or maybe even entering an accelerator.
For Joly, he used to work on Windows 8, so meeting people who were genuinely excited about the product he was building was less often then with his current job. “For me it was very special the emotional response we found from users who were really enjoying this game. We were part of their conscience much more with that kind of product.”
He added that he’s proud of what the team has accomplished thus far, and it’s rewarding to witness learning aspect and hear from users.