Biodiversity and genetic mutation are brought to life in epic battles as players take control of a leafcutter ant colony

The brief

Amplify is a US-focused educational publisher reimagining the way teachers teach and students learn. At the heart of this ambition is a groundbreaking digital curriculum for K-12, focusing on Maths, English Language and the Arts (ELA) and Science.

We’ve been working with Amplify to produce a series of games to be sold along with this core curriculum, designed for the Amplify Tablet and a variety of other platforms including iOS.

As part of our focus on Science we developed TyrAnt, a game which places the student in control a colony of leafcutter ants in their struggle to reproduce and survive.

Our response

TyrAnt is an ant-based RTS game with a focus on intuitive touch controls and a rewarding resource management system. The game teaches the player how ants eat, communicate and, ultimately, reproduce within a biologically diverse and delicate ecosystem.

The lifeblood of the colony is fresh green leaves – the resource the player must gather in order to grow the colony and trigger the flying ant’s nuptial flight. The player takes control of three ant castes, each with a particular part to play in the colony’s potential success:

Soldier Ants are the tough guys defending the territory from neighbouring ant colonies
Forager Ants are the worker ants, used to explore the overworld and collect the valuable leaf resource
Miner Ants are the unsung heroes below ground, expanding the colony and harvesting the leaf mould, which is crucial for development of flying ant larvae

Players decide how best to develop their colony, balancing the collection of food with defending territory and maintaining the structure below ground. As the overworld is explored, the player will encounter Soldier ants from competing colonies and experience dwindling resources demonstrating the delicate balance between success and failure.

The game is designed to be highly replayable, with each new game presenting the player with a a new colony and the next generation of ants. As play continues natural selection becomes increasingly self-evident with ant castes becoming increasingly specialised.

The mechanics of the game demonstrate the content in action. For example, as ants navigate between leaves, they lay a pheromone trail which allows other ants to travel more directly along the same route. The ‘doing’ in the game is the learning, and by understanding how to play the game works, the player also understands the content within it.

A first for us, this game also includes a documentary-style natural history voiceover, bringing to life the underground metropolis of the leafcutter ants.

The game is based on the US Life Sciences curriculum, touching a broad range of themes including biodiversity, ecosystems, and natural selection. It was developed in close collaboration with Amplify’s science curriculum team and the Myrmecologist, Ms Antonia Forster (BSc, MSc).

TyrAnt has been rolled out to a number of US schools as part of the Amplify pilot programme.

The Results

  • Nominations

    Games for Change - Best Gameplay (2014)
    TIGA - Game with a Purpose (2013)