Sketch Nation Create Lesson Tools:

Creating Math Games - Best Practices

Creating and playing math games is an excellent application for the Sketch Nation platform. Many teachers use Sketch Nation to inject creativity into STEM subjects, and math is no exception. This lesson tool provides ideas on how to use Sketch Nation to teach math through game creation, and the best practices to create compelling math games.

Math Games Best Practices

The most popular Sketch Nation math games still follow good game storytelling and play challenges while making the goals clearly tied to a student's math curriculum, e.g. arithmetic operations, powers, prime numbers and so on. Basically, this means creating a fun game, where the numbers become the enemies, obstacles and powerups, instead of, for example,  evil villains, bombs and rockets!

When creating your math game, be sure to add the hashtag #math to the description. This will allow your math game to show up when users search for “math”!


Below are a few examples of math games that can be created:

In this Up Scrolling game, the player needs to shoot prime numbers and avoid non primes. When the player destroys a prime number the score goes up. If the player  destroy a non prime number, the score goes down.

In this Traffic game, the player needs to pick up powers of 3 while avoiding non powers of 3. If the player hits a non power of 3, the game is over.

In this Match 2 game, players learn to count by fives. Every time two like numbers are combined, they become one tile that is numerically bigger by five.

In this Side Flying game, players need to pick up square powerups and avoid non square enemies such as circles and triangles.

Deeper Dive: Platformer Expert Math Game

When playing this game, the player is given the equation X = 3 + 6 / 3 and needs to solve for X. The player can choose from 3 different answers. One leads to the exit and the player wins. The others kill the player and the game ends.

To start, we create the following game objects:

Player - This is the character the user controls when playing the game.

Obstacle - We use this to control where the player can go in our level.

Goal - We drew this as an exit sign. The player needs to reach the goal to win the game.

Powerup - We left this blank as this game doesn’t need any powerups (although they could be added if the creator chooses to do so).

Enemy - These are the answers to the equation. Two of the answers are wrong, and one is correct. We modified the settings of each enemy object so that the wrong answers will kill the player while the right answer will let the player pass. Note that even though the category is called Enemy, you can make enemies that do not kill the player and are thus friendly or even beneficial.

Storytelling - We use a storytelling object to tell the user what equation they need to solve.

Enemy settings for wrong answers

Enemy settings for correct answer

The storytelling text

The storytelling text in game

Now we can create our level. Notice how the enemies are all facing the wrong way. That is because by default enemies start walking toward the player and are facing left instead of right:

The enemies in the level editor, all facing the wrong way

The enemy default “Facing” setting which causes numbers to face the wrong way

If we switch the enemy “Facing” setting to “None”, you can see that now the enemies face correctly:

Enemy “Facing” setting set to “Front”

Our enemies now look correct

Here is the game we created in action:

Solve for X = 3 + 6 / 3.

Since the division is applied before the addition, the answer is:

X = 3 + ( 6 / 3 )

X = 3 + 2

X = 5

The user has to pick the number 5 to win the level.


Below is another level, showing how math games created by users can be more challenging:

In this level, the user has to solve the equation X = 4 + 2 x 3

Since the multiplication is applied before the addition, the answer is:

X = 4 + ( 2 x 3 )

X = 4 + 6

X = 10

The user can collect the number 10, but has to avoid the numbers 12, 6, and 18.

We hope this lesson idea provides inspiration for how to use Sketch Nation to engage students in making and sharing math games, learning, creating and playing all at once!


Addendum: Changing the “Face” with Version 3.1

The game above was created with Version 3.1 of Sketch Nation Create, which includes a new feature that makes it easier than ever to create math games. Previous versions of Sketch Nation would flip players and enemies depending on which direction they were facing. This is great for games which feature characters and objects such as animals and vehicles, but didn’t work as well for numbers.

Player moving left and right

Number moving left and right

With version 3.1, you can now control how players and enemies react when they are moving in different directions.

By setting the “Facing” slider for the player, enemies and powerups to “Front”, they will appear just as they are drawn, regardless of which direction they are moving, as this screenshot shows.

Player number moving left and right with Facing “Front” selected

Enemy number moving left and right with Facing “Front” selected

The same happens with enemies:

Enemy number moving left and right with default “Facing”

Enemy number moving left and right with Facing “Front” selected

If you don’t see the “Facing” setting in your version of Sketch Nation Create, just upgrade to V3.1 and you will have it!