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Artana Puts Women of STEM in the Spotlight with Lovelace & Babbage

Jen Graham-Macht October 2, 2018
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How do I get from 55 to 38 and pass through 81 along the way? Thinking…

  • 55 plus 20, that gives me 75
  • 75 plus 5 is 80 
  • 80 plus 1 is 81. Great! Now for 38…
  • If I invert the number I get 18
  • 18 plus 20 gets me to 38. Boom!

Five steps. That’s what you’ve got in Lovelace & Babbage. Five steps and a series of functions you can use to perform the math you need to land on key numbers that will help you collect sets of symbols and earn you points for end of the game scoring. Seems fairly easy as we read it, but there are some curve balls I haven’t mentioned. You have to do the math in your head, and you have to do it faster than your opponents.

Lovelace & Babbage is the latest game to hit Kickstarter from Speakeasy Blues and Telsa vs. Edison publisher, Artana Games. Designed by the prolific Scott Almes, this paper-and-pencil is a programming game about, well, programming. Lovelace & Babbage is historically motivated by the story of mathematician, Ada Lovelace, and engineer, Charles Babbage, inventor of the the Analytical Engine, a mechanical computer and direct influencer of the modern computer system. It cleverly blends the idea of programming math functions into a gaming style that makes players feel like they are plugging away trying to get a mechanical brain to do some heavy lifting for them.

During the game, players will complete mental math like the example above, trying to hit key numbers, collecting sets of symbols and earning actions that may prove beneficial in future rounds. This is not Almes’ first programming game. He is responsible for Kings of Air and Steam as well as the recently Kickstarted Tiny Epic Mechs. These games, like many programming games use this mechanic for movement. Here however, programming is used to solve puzzles optimizing point accumulation. 

When asked about design influence Scott says, regarding programming, it’s “why mechanical computers were imagined in the first place.” Ada Lovelace is often referred to as “the first programmer,” as she used Babbage’s machine to solve complex math problems. Almes’ game perfectly emulates the work she accomplished with the machine. “I wanted to highlight Ada Lovelace and her contributions to science and technology,” he notes. He reminds us that the fight for recognition by women in the STEM community has been around for a long time.

Components not finalized

Artana partnered with Kwanchai Moriya (Overlight RPG) and Heiko Gunther to produce the artwork for this game. While I have only seen select images from the final art (previewing with a prototype) Kwanchai’s colorfully vibrant worlds instantly elevate the context of this game, providing a sense of visual accessibility simply from being pleasing to look at. Artana is also partnering with artists in and around the gaming community to build a collection of art that pays homage to Ada. As a part of the Kickstarter, backers will be able to purchase prints by artists including Beth Sobel, Jacqui Davis and Celine Loup. Partnerships like this build a sense of celebration around the life of Ada Lovelace, and show a sense of care for the content that will invest the community in this game.

Lovelace & Babbage will make a great small box, quick game for anyone who “loves a good historical theme and enjoys a good puzzle” says Almes and we certainly agree. There are no deep seated roots here. If you don’t like to think about math when you don’t have to, then this might not be the game for you. But it’s easy to see the elegance in the simplicity of this game’s design. Lovelace & Babbage pays homage to it’s historical predecessors by staying simple, quick and accessible to a wide audience. I quickly look at this game and a great example of a tool of tactical learning that game are fast becoming. Lovelace & Babbage hits Kickstarter on October 2nd. You can check it out here.

Components not finalized

This game prototype was provided in the form of a preview copy. All components not finalized

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