An Indian couple who have studied in the U.S. have teamed up to create a new three-in-one game which they hope will offer a new patient and joyful form of parenting. Rajat Dhariwal and his wife Madhumita Halder, of Bangalore, both studied at IIT and Carnegie Mellon University. They have taught children and wanted to find a way to change the Indian education system.
While teaching at the Rishi Valley School in Andhra Pradesh as science teachers, Dhariwal and Halder taught kids for four years through games, without using a single textbook. “This game-based learning not only made the most boring topics fun, but also the conceptual understanding was way better,” Dhariwal told India-West. “This inspired us to use this ‘power of play’ to change the world of children’s engagement options.”
As a result, the couple started the Bangalore-based company MadRat Games “as an ally to a patient and joyful form of parenting. We design games to help each child discover the mad rat inside them, and become calmer, wiser and happier,” he said.
They stumbled upon the idea when they noticed children were becoming increasingly dependent – and addicted – to screens, whether computer, tablet, phone or laptop. In 2013, Dhariwal and Halder had an extensive interaction with parents and almost all of them were anxious about this diminishing attention span. “We knew we had to create a game that would make kids snap out of the screens,” Dhariwal, who left a job at Amazon to teach children, said. “It also had to be a game that they would enjoy and learn from at the same time.”
They chose a jigsaw puzzle called Madzzle. After going through several prototypes, the game became a reality in 2014. Madzzle is a three-in-one game for kids ages 7 to 11. The puzzle actually rolls up and has patent-pending zero gap technology, which ensures kids have a seamless play experience. There are three explorer-themed games, including the Bermuda Triangle, the mysteries of the Amazon and Worldopedia.
Kids make the puzzle first by placing the jigsaw pieces in a perfect picture. They then go on an exciting object hunt. Following the object hunt is a data duel. “It’s a new game each time, as the kids challenge the opponent’s cards while learning interesting facts about the object on the card,” Dhariwal explained.
Each Madzzle has a unique feature. Bermuda Triangle has a pair of magnifying lens; Amazon has a glow in the dark mode; and Worldopedia has an illusion decoder and counters for the object hunt game. Dhariwal noted the game typically uses a lot of paper, and he wanted to reduce the carbon footprint.
“We also include magic beans, which are marigold seeds, in each Madzzle. Since a lot of paper is used in creating these games, this is our way of giving back to the planet,” he said. Dhariwal and Halder launched a Kickstarter campaign for Madzzle to extend it to international markets. The hope is that it can present itself to its target audience worldwide and get assistance in automating the product manufacturing. Currently, the game’s fabrication is by hand.
At press deadline, the crowd-funding campaign had raised $1,062, with a target of $25,000 by Sept. 28. Madzzle has test launched in 25 United States stores and recently won a parent’s choice award. “It would be a perfect gift for the curious kids,” Dhariwal asserted to India-West.