By Margaret L. Niess
Cabanga, developed by Six Red Marbles, is an online role- playing game that gives middle school mathematics students multiple dynamic elements to manipulate.
This interactive video game challenges
students to run an entertainment and
sports management agency. The goal
is to become a successful manager of
talent clients, called “celebs.” Students
must first recruit talent and then
make deals to provide work for their
celebs while also attempting to elevate
the agency’s status level from bronze
through silver and gold to platinum.
Students begin by personalizing
their talent agency, determining a
name for the company, and even designing their own avatar. A $50,000
startup account provides sufficient
funds to recruit talent. The agency has
the capacity to manage up to three
celebs at a time. However, the student
must make deals that will increase
the celeb’s happiness and increase the
agency’s bank account. When they determine a possible deal for a particular celeb, students activate a spinner
(based on probabilities displayed for
the deal and the talent) to determine if
a match is made. When it is, the celeb
begins working for a specified time.
If the agency’s bank account needs
funds, students can choose to earn “fast
cash” by taking on different mathematical tasks. They earn additional funds
by solving problems from one of these
possible topics: numbers and number
link; decimals, fractions and percents;
order of operations; patterns; ratio, proportions, inequalities, and expressions;
In this example of Cabanga’s dashboard view, the Fantabulous Agency has made a deal for
Sue, and she has about four minutes to complete the job. Opportunities for deals become
available for a limited period, requiring students to make decisions in a timely manner.
equations; data and probability; and
coordinate planes. Students select a
topic and answer questions from that
topic. In fast-cash mode, time stops
so that students have as much time as
they need to respond to the questions.
After selecting a category, such as
numbers and number line, the student
selects from whole number, decimals,
fractions, or integers. From the whole-number category, a problem appears
with a dollar amount tied to a correct
Fast cash relies on an adaptive curriculum to quickly figure out the ideal
difficulty level for the student. If the
student is getting all the problems correct, the difficulty level increases.
Cabanga includes a teacher dash-
board to review student accounts,
see what topics students are working
with, and check their progress against
the National Council of Teachers of
Mathematics (NCTM) standards, the
Common Core State Standards, and
standards for each of the U.S. states.
A leader board displays the level,
bank accounts, and success each
agency has in making deals. Teach-
ers can use this feature to establish
competitions among students,
classes, or even schools.