Meet 'Dot Dot Fire'
Dot Dot Fire breaks boundaries between education and video games, empowering young people toward financial success.
Hi there! I’m Franco Lam, the Co-Founder and Chief Development Officer of Dot Dot Fire, an educational video game development company that focuses on teaching young people vital skills to live sustainable lives. I have been working on Dot Dot Fire’s mission, business practices, and products since about 2017, but things really took off for us when the core team and I emigrated to London. Dot Dot Fire UK was officially incorporated in 2021, and since then, we have made enormous progress in our product development and deployment, reaching over 400,000 people worldwide!
I was born in Asia, to two parents who run their own restaurant. When I was young, the most distinctive memory I have is struggling with school. I found the way subjects were taught really boring, so I had difficulty grasping concepts as I would often get distracted and let my mind wander (I got told off many times!) I wasn’t the only one who struggled, either. My friends faced the same problems and weren’t all that interested in the kind of learning school offered. Instead, we all found refuge in gaming. Gaming was fun, allowed us to connect with one another, and experiment with solving problems. My favourites were role-playing and management-style games, where I could and learn from experiencing life through different careers, from car engineering to zookeeping. The fact that my friends and I learned so much more effectively through playing games was the first key piece of evidence that showed me how much gaming could work as an educational tool.
In the run up to university, I was most interested in flying and aviation, so I went to Florida, USA to pursue a degree in Aviation and undergo training as a pilot. Though I enjoyed my higher education, I still felt like something was missing. Being a pilot didn’t feel like it had a wide enough impact for me, and I couldn’t see any future in aviation where I could use my creativity to bring about something new in the world. So, toward the end of my degree, I made the difficult decision to drop out of my programme, much to my parents’ disappointment. Instead, I wanted to pursue my growing idea for an ethical, educational video game development company full-time.
Franco Lam introducing Dot Dot Fire’s work to guests of the Money Wise Challenge at the London Olympic Stadium
The first game I developed in Dot Dot Fire was a blended flying/STEM game that drew from my time using flight simulators to teach young people maths and science in the traditional school environment. Despite the team’s efforts, we couldn’t seem to get the game to take off. Our games needed to be more fun for players, and they also needed to help teachers deliver aspects of education that they normally
didn’t have time for. We still had a lot of learning and refining to do as developers, so we went back to the drawing board and started again from square one.
In 2019, we developed the concept for the Money Wise Game, as we realized that schools and students would get a lot more from game-based education that could cover subjects that aren’t usually taught, like financial literacy. Through a partnership with FoolProof, an organization teaching critical thinking skills to young people in the United States, we deployed the game in the USA in early 2020.
Children having fun and learning critical money skills through Dot Dot Fire’s Money Wise Game
However, the pandemic threw a spanner in the works, and forced us to think about the best place for Dot Dot Fire to really lay down roots and grow as a business. In early 2021, the team decided to settle down in the UK, and we all moved to London.
Since arriving in the UK, we’ve deployed our Money Wise Curriculum across 15 schools in London, and organized the UK’s first financial literacy e-sports competition at the London Stadium, which was attended by over 300 students. Our Story Mode has also reached over 400,000 unique players worldwide and counting!
Franco Lam taking a selfie with the winners of the first Money Wise Challenge and the Mayor of Newham Rokshana Fiaz OBE
Our Money Wise Games are developed in partnership with educators, so that teachers know they are meeting their own targets while their students play the game. We also develop our games with the input of students and learners, as we want our games to be as fun as they are educational. I had the opportunity to deliver one of the Money Wise Lessons to a group of year 6 students in real time, and witnessed how they engaged with the game and the material being taught.
The core educational mechanic of our game allows students to play with a huge variety of different real- life financial scenarios and experience the consequences and rewards of different choices. Because our games are repeatable, students really consolidate their learning and understand why certain financial choices lead to better outcomes than others.
Students of St. Antony’s Catholic Primary School, the first school to bring Money Wise to the classroom and Franco Lam
Dot Dot Fire is unique because we pride ourselves on our truly ethical mission. We never collect young people’s personal data.
Building a more sustainable world is at the heart of what we believe in. Through our games, we teach young people how to manage their money and break out of structural inequalities. In this way, communities across the UK become more financially resilient, with higher levels of personal wellbeing for all.
I am so proud of what Dot Dot Fire has achieved so far. Our work trailblazes in the world of game-based education, breaks long-held negative stereotypes around gaming, and builds a better, more financially stable world in the process.
If you’d like to find out more about Dot Dot Fire visit www.dotdotfire.com
*This blog post is provided by the business owner featured – the views and opinions expressed on this blog are not our own.