In 2017, after journeying to the moon and back in the incredible Apollo 11 VR experience by our friends at Engage, I left inspired to pursue ideas at the intersection of spatial computing and education. That exploration led to the creation of a VR science sandbox prototype known today as Tablecraft, from which this studio then emerged.
Today, Not Suspicious is a vibrant and growing independent game studio, focused on crafting suspiciously fun experiences that push the boundaries of traditional education. Have a look at our latest research below! 🚧 This page is WIP.
The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us,
the less taste we shall have for destruction.
– Rachel Carson
Tablecraft is a virtual reality game that teleports you to a solar system of vibrant sci-fi labs. Each lab is equipped with machinery that allows crafting objects from the atoms up, as well as, uh… interesting layout decisions you must work to your advantage. Full of chaotic crafting rooted in actual STEM, this mad scientist simulator is a fun and playful way to reignite your love of science!
VR in the classroom
Engaging the whole class
By late 2019, we understood that to ensure whole-class participation in VR-centric activities, we'd have to find engaging ways for students who are not in VR to interact with the students that are in VR. So we asked ourselves: what if we turned the most engaging (and distracting) tools students already have access to (i.e. their phones and laptops) into the tools with which they can participate in the classroom VR activities?
We decided to test a brand new hypothesis that we had never seen tested in the classroom: asymmetric local VR multiplayer.
1. A group of 8 students in VR using untethered (Meta Quest) headsets in seated conditions, with minimal space requirements ✅
2. The rest of the class using traditional mobile devices to connect, interact and collaborate with their peers in VR ✅
3. A happy teacher ✅
Tablecraft's free companion app, designed for traditional desktops and mobile devices, allows users on non-VR devices to seamlessly connect with VR labs on the same Wi-Fi network through local peer-to-peer, so no actual internet connection required! In the classroom, this allows educators to not only monitor and guide the students in VR, but also include the rest of the class in the VR activities.
Non-VR participants can navigate and interact with each VR lab by embodying a virtual drone, which VR users can also see and interact with. This fosters a sense of communal engagement, reducing the feeling of VR isolation and promoting collaborative play.
Join VR Labs with non-VR devices
In the 30 years I've been teaching at Creekside Middle, I've taught 6th and 8th grade science. When you brought Tablecraft to Creekside, I was amazed to see how it benefited so many of my students. I believe Tablecraft was effective at engaging students who aren't passionate about the classroom environment. Through the course of the demo, I tried to make sure that all of my less-engaged students gave the game a try, so they could get a different perspective on the subject matter. Of particular note was the effect on a couple of students, who at first were apprehensive about trying the game but then could not stop playing it, and afterwards asked for a further explanation of some of the concepts they had just been exposed to in virtual reality.
Normally, when we start talking about the elements in class, I try to make the students relate to the subject matter by mentioning the classic examples like Sodium and Chlorine making salt. However, without being able to just grab the atoms and make salt themselves, a lot of the students just find the overall idea too abstract. With Tablecraft however, they were putting those atoms together to make all kinds of stuff and I could see that they just got it!
My students who have learning disabilities and the ones who are normally hardest to motivate were especially engaged. They clearly felt included, and I heard them talking about wanting to buy Tablecraft and play it at home, which to me was amazing... after all, they were talking about a science program!
I think Tablecraft can offer a lot of value. Even if it was just a monthly reward type of activity to motivate the students, or to reinforce the concepts, I think it would be fantastic. I was also very impressed to see just how easy it would be to integrate in the classroom. Almost all of my students have phones so even if we didn't have enough headsets or tablets, it would still be possible to get everyone involved.
I'm always looking for more ways to engage my kids with hands-on stuff, and this is a whole new world. My only wish is for even more content! I can't wait to have my students use Tablecraft again!
As an 8th grade science teacher with 15 years of experience, one of the universal challenges I see in my field is engaging a hundred percent of the class in the subject matter. Students are reluctant to learn concepts in science, like the Periodic Table, as it seems confusing and irrelevant to them. While that cannot be more untrue, producing scientifically-literate students is a struggle in today's world of dynamic information. The classic concepts, while important, are static and have difficulty competing with the modern and shifting paradigms.
Remarkably, when my students got to play Tablecraft, many of my least engaged students were as excited as those whose attention I never have trouble with! I can be certain they were glad they came to science class that day, and I expect that I will find it easier to get their attention in the future, as the teacher who brought them such a cool learning experience. The intangible element of coolness is undoubtedly displayed in Tablecraft as this was echoed by my students over and over again. Their level of enjoyment was obvious along with their connections between the Periodic Table and their personal lives. Days after the game testing session, students are still talking about Tablecraft and commenting on their experiences.
Bottom line, we want Tablecraft in our curriculum!