Erase All Kittens is a revolutionary, online game that's changing how we approach teaching coding, especially for girls. Bringing creativity and engaging storytelling to the fore, equipping them with the coding skills essential for 21st Century degrees and careers.
According to a recent nationwide study by Childwise, most girls aged 9-12 think that coding is ‘more for boys’ and ‘too difficult’. My team and I believe that this is because computer science has been introduced in a way which has not been inspirational for most girls, or maintained their interest. According to a recent US Department of Labor report, 65% of today’s school children will eventually be employed in jobs that don’t yet exist. It’s safe to say that the vast majority of these jobs will require digital skills, so it’s essential that girls are encouraged to code and code.
In order to solve this problem, we carried out twelve months of research interviewing hundreds of students aged 8-13, and immersing ourselves in their culture – analysing the most popular cartoons, games, movies and books (which don’t pander to gender stereotypes) before creating our learning tool. During our research, we also found that boys are encouraged to “try harder” at STEM subjects, and girls are discouraged, through unconscious biases. We don’t want to see one more girl afraid of learning to code, so we designed E.A.K. to eliminate these fears.
Erase All Kittens is the first game designed from the ground up to inspire girls to code, and teach them professional languages – via story-driven gameplay. Our goal is to completely transform how girls perceive coding and to empower them with ‘real-world’ skills.
As players progress they can edit the real code that governs the game environment – building and fixing levels as they play. Young children can learn coding languages such as HTML and CSS, to save kittens in a fantasy internet universe.
Our approach has been to design a game that girls genuinely love – one that places a huge emphasis on creativity and feels more like a mainstream game than a coding tool. There are different ways to progress, girls can see instant results as they code, and learning is seamlessly blended with storytelling. The story features kitten gifs and quirky characters – for example, one of the characters, Tarquin Glitterquiff is a half unicorn, half mermaid serial entrepreneur – He introduces the concept of ‘entrepreneurism’ to kids.
We beta-tested E.A.K. with several Oasis Academies in the UK – and the response was overwhelmingly positive. It was found that students were encouraged to become teachers, team-builders, writers and designers, as well as coders.
Teachers also became the facilitators of autonomous, independent learning – since the game greatly encourages collaboration and is highly engaging to both boys and girls.
Solely through word-of-mouth, E.A.K. has 120,000 players in over 100 countries. Over half of all players are girls, and our 12,000 feedback forms have shown that 95% of them want to learn more about code after playing.
Last year, we started holding free coding workshops in developing countries, to inspire young girls to code. Our first one was in Homs, Syria, where we partnered with IT-Advice and Techfugees, to set up an event to encourage girls to learn more about coding and technology. The event was a huge success, and we plan on launching our ‘E.A.K. Academy for Girls’ initiative later this year – which will involve coding, mini game-jams, hackathons and talks from inspiring female role models.
We have two main aspirations – the first would be to empower girls and boys with the practical skills which would allow them to become tomorrow’s “Makers” and innovators. It would be fantastic if Erase All Kittens could provide the spark of inspiration to help generate breakthroughs in areas that still don’t have solutions: global warming, reducing poverty etc.
Our second aspiration is that E.A.K. will eliminate any fears that girls have of technology, and to inspire them to become creative problem solvers and engineers. Our long-term goal is to inspire girls to learn digital skills, globally, so that we can help to close the gender gap in tech.
After an incredible year, winning six global tech awards, partnering with MIT Solve, and overfunding on Kickstarter (thanks to you lovely humans!) we’re finally on our way to fulfilling our dream – giving girls all over the world the confidence to code, and skills to create.
Want to empower girls you know through Erase All Kittens? Find out more at https://eraseallkittens.com/