In online gaming, Spain really stands out. It has created its own website Explica with a collection of easy to access games that target pupils of various ages. Through its wide array of online games, INE Spain caters to young audiences of different ages and different statistical proficiencies. That way, relevant games can easily be integrated into school work and thereby help show that statistics can be fun as well as relevant later on in life. Combined, these two aspects are powerful motivators to work on one’s statistical literacy.
Two out of those are offered in English (in addition to Spanish), and are presented in more detail below.
(1) The Prob family
The Prob family is all about a small cartoonish family of cute little monsters – the “Probs” – that like to eat fruit. The idea is simple: there are four little monsters in one colour each: red, green, orange and purple. There is a “magic tree” which drops four different kinds of fruits: red strawberries, green pears, orange oranges or purple plums. The Probs only like to eat the fruit that is in their colour. This means that the red Prob will only like strawberries and so on. In each round of the game, a randomly selected Prob will go close to the magic tree, which has a variety of fruits hanging from its branches (four or seven depending on the level of difficulty), and the tree will randomly drop one of the fruits. But before that happens, the player is asked to answer if they think the Prob will get the fruit it likes, which of course depends on the colour of the Prob and on the fruits available on the tree.
The game has three different levels of difficulty, the first one is very intuitive and there is no need to do maths, whereas the second and the third levels require more accurate estimations of probability. Each time, the player gets an explanation of the correct solution (including the mathematical part in levels 2 and 3). The game also includes a help section with some basic concepts. That way, even very young pupils can get a first feel for statistical probabilities.
A second online game developed by INE Spain is INEcity, where students can build their own cities based on the demographic and economic statistics of an imagined region. The purpose of this game is to make the user aware of the usefulness of official statistics and to give examples about how they are used in decision-making. Again, it follows a simple idea: the users play the role of the major of INEcity. As long as the budget allows it, they have to decide which kind of facilities they build for the city, for example, a hospital, a university or a pub.
The citizens of INEcity will favour certain facilities more, which translates into precious votes at the next elections. They are, however, also capable of disliking others, which could hinder the re-election. Luckily the statistical office is there to help: it will provide the age structure of the population and what kind of facilities they like most. It even goes as far as to predicting the number of votes the construction of one building will bring. Once players have spent the whole budget, they will see in a newspaper if they have been re-elected or not.