A Shetland software company is involved in the development of a computer game which aims to boost pupils’ maths skills.
Mesomorphic Ltd has teamed up with Moray College UHI to create Algorismus – a role-playing game helping students learn maths outside school.
It is hoped the project will also create jobs in Shetland by commissioning local artists, voiceover actors, film makers and musicians to contribute to the production of the game.
Mesomorphic founder and technical director Barnaby Mercer said it offered an “exciting opportunity” to pull together local talent in digital art, music and software development.
“Shetland is ideally suited to capitalise on the digital market in a post-covid economy and this project is the first of many,” he added.
“Our ambition is to create jobs and opportunities within Shetland that play to the work/life, tech/nature balance afforded by our location.”
Shetland-based artist Matthew Laurenson said Algorismus offered a chance to make a real difference to people suffering from ‘mathemaphobia’.
“A mixture of academic research, programming wizardry, artistic creativity and buckets of imagination will, I believe, lead to something truly special,” he said.
“This island is full of creatives, so we won’t be short of talent to leverage.”
Algorismus will take the form of a role-playing game where the player progresses through a dungeon, fighting monsters and collecting items to help them along the way.
Players will solve maths-based puzzles when they encounter monsters, with success depending on the speed and accuracy of their answers.
The collaboration will will provide opportunities for UHI students studying applied software development, computing and interactive media degrees to develop their skills on a real-life project.
Mesomorphic will also provide work experience placements and a series of guest lectures so students can learn about working in the software industry.
The three-month project has received £7,500 backing from the Scottish Funding Council and the university through the innovation voucher scheme.
Innovation vouchers are awarded to partnerships between business and academia looking to develop new products, processes or services.
Malcolm Clark, programme leader for the university’s computing and interactive media degrees, said: “We are excited to be working with Mesomorphic on this innovative project.
Recent studies have found that Scotland has skills shortages in finance, secondary teaching and software development – areas which are reliant on maths and numeracy skills.
There are also concerns that Covid-19 may have affected pupil attainment.
This project aims to address these issues, while giving our students the valuable experience of working on a real-life project.
“It is an excellent example of the way the university is supporting the recovery of our region following the pandemic as we work with employers, communities and learners to respond to their needs.”