by Tim Walsh
Dave Schultze is the Founder and Creator of the game, Gridopolis. After sitting down with him at the ASTRA Marketplace and Academy in Pittsburgh last month, I knew right away I wanted to interview him for Play in Education.
Give us a little background on yourself. How did you come to be an industrial designer?
I developed a love for art and design at a very early age. I was always drawing on anything handy, whether it was a blank piece of paper or a parent’s book. I was also constantly building, typically with blocks, Legos, Lincoln Logs or anything else I could reach.
I started my design career as an architect after graduating with a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Oklahoma. I expanded into product design and later received my Masters of Industrial Design from Art Center College of Art and Design in 1997. After graduation, I started SchultzeWORKS designstudio in Pasadena.
I’ve always had a passion for education. In 2002, I began teaching courses on 3D modeling and prototyping in the Toy Design department at OTIS College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, where I still teach today. I began authoring online courses with LinkedIn Learning in 2010.
How did Gridopolis come to be?
In 2016, I had an idea. After noticing that most board games were flat and rigid in their gameplay, I wanted to create a multiplayer 3D strategy game where players could not only move and jump in three dimensions but could also build their own board. This inspired the desire to create the start-up called Gridopolis Games.
I developed the signature game, called Gridopolis, over the course of two years, which included intensive playtesting with OTIS Toy Design students. Now, we are set to launch on Kickstarter on July 23. (NOTE: You can sign up for our email alerts to be notified when the Kickstarter begins.)
I was particularly intrigued with the game play when I saw it. Tell our readers how to play the game.
The objective of Gridopolis is to be the last player standing. Players do this by jumping over opponents to capture them, which you can do in three dimensions. Pawns can move one pad at a time away from their home row while kings (which you acquire when you reach an opponent’s home row) can move two pads at a time in any direction. Every Grid-Set (what we call the 3D playing arena) has Teleporters that allow players to beam around the board, a play element we borrowed from video games.
To make things even more interesting, each player starts with additional building pieces. So if you don’t want to move, you can build, expanding the Grid-Set during game play. This makes the game dynamic and totally original. At its heart, Gridopolis is much more than a single game — it’s an expandable and modular game system.
Gridopolis has been called "3D Checkers." Is that fair or is it more?
Calling Gridopolis ‘3D checkers’ only scratches the surface of what the game (and system) can do. As I’ve mentioned, the board is infinitely expandable and modular. With Teleporters that allow you to beam to different locations, the quick game pace eliminates chances for a stalemate. Gridopolis is also the first multiplayer strategy game where players both play in 3D and dynamically change the board during play.
My favorite review of the game came from Jeff Provine who said that Gridopolis is “a modular 3D game that can be understood in seconds and studied for a lifetime.” While ‘3D Checkers’ is an apt descriptor, it’s really just the beginning.
What are the learning benefits of playing the game?
Gridopolis is a first-of-its-kind game where players think creatively and logically in three dimensions. Gridopolis is both a strategy game and an expandable gaming system, which is why it's such a fantastic and fun tool for STEM education.
We coined the term ‘STEM without screens,' which is really catching on. We’ve also created our first lesson plan for use at home and in the classroom, available for free on our website. This curriculum outlines therapeutic, knowledge, and behavioral objectives of the game system.
For the therapeutic objectives, students will practice recognizing shapes, colors and methods of assembly, addressing spatial skills, reasoning, memory and more. For knowledge objectives, students plan, move and strategize in three dimensions, teaching strategy, logic and creativity. Examining the behavioral objectives, students collaborate as they master the rules and game play, targeting socialization, collaboration and communication skills. In addition to being a practical and fun learning system, Gridopolis is an excellent fit for schools and libraries.
Can a player bring his or her own creativity to the game?
ABSOLUTELY! There are 7 total parts in the Gridopolis system, 3 of which are for building. These ‘structural parts’ are the Pad, Post and Link. Players can use these easy-to-assemble pieces to create any Grid-Set on which to play the same game.
Once you understand the gameplay rules, the possibilities are endless. We have developed Grid-Set Blueprints which can be found on our website, also for free. We’re now encouraging owners of Gridopolis to design their own sets and send their designs to us for testing. This idea-sourcing is one of the aspects of Gridopolis I am most excited about.
What are your goals for the game?
On July 23, I will be launching Gridopolis on Kickstarter. I’ve helped many startup clients in the toy and game industry, but this is my first venture into Kickstarter on my own. So far, the response from gamers and educators has been overwhelmingly positive, so we have high hopes for a successful campaign. I’m especially excited to launch Gridopolis because it’s an excellent STEM education tool, which I can directly attribute to my love for teaching and learning.
When will the game be available?
The first-edition box is currently available on our web store and retails at $50. We are also launching on Kickstarter so we can do a mass production run. When pledging on Kickstarter, supporters will have the benefit of taking advantage of several deals, including an early-bird special. After we reach our funding goal, we expect Gridopolis to be available by early 2020.
What’s the one thing you’d like our readers to know about the game?
With Gridopolis, this Kickstarter launch and mass production run is only the beginning. We have several extensions planned so that the fun of Gridopolis never dwindles. As I mentioned, we will be doing outreach & idea-sourcing to get fans to send us their blueprints. We really want to build a community around this game system. We also aim to do product licensing and even an app in the near future.
I've noticed a very special employee of yours on your social media. Can you tell us about her?
That's my awesome dog! She’s an interesting Corgi Dachshund mix named Pepper. We adopted her from a rescue organization seven years ago!
Thanks for joining us, Dave! You can find out more at www.Gridopolis.games