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Kids Turn Gaming News

WITH ITZABITZA COMPUTER GAME, CHILDREN’S DRAWINGS GO FROM 2D TO TOTALLY INTERACTIVE

Itzabitza Computer Game

Things Get Animated with Computer Game That Is As Much Fun As It Is Educational

Kirkland, WA (July 27, 2009)— Do you know why the flowers in your ItzaBitza garden aren’t growing? It’s because you haven’t drawn the sun yet! And why isn’t your ItzaBitza avatar, Sketchy, inside the house you drew? Because there’s no door! Children’s drawings and problem solving skills take center stage with ItzaBitza, an interactive, educational computer game for pre-readers.

The characters in ItzaBitza, called Sketchies, have needs and wants that children must fulfill before advancing in the game. For example, each Sketchy needs a house, so children are prompted to draw one. Their creation, complete with windows, roof and a door is magically animated and the Sketchy can walk up to the door, open it, and walk into the house. Furniture appears in the windows and, incredibly, players see their Sketchy inside of the house that they just drew. The Sketchy will even adjust to the size of the house, so the size of the Sketchy and the house are always to scale. It’s truly jaw-dropping!

Throughout the game, children are presented with a series of tasks and challenges, earning a star for completed activities. Once a player has enough stars, they’re granted access to the next playset, or level. Each of the five ItzaBitza playsets; a home, a camp site, a haunted house, outer space and a farm, begin as a blank playset and players draw in different elements in their quest to attain all of the stars.

To figure out how to get the stars in each playset, children read sentences that appear as thought bubbles above their Sketchy. Beginning readers can hold the mouse over any word they’re unsure of, and the word will turn red, grow larger and a child’s voice will pronounce the word for them. As a player progresses through the playsets, the sentences become richer in meaning and construction.

The tasks in ItzaBitza are designed to challenge a player’s critical thinking and problem solving skills. One quest in the home playset is to pick five purple flowers. If there’s no sun drawn, there will be no flowers. Then, once the flowers grow, the child needs to know to pick the purple flowers. If they find only three purple flowers, they’ll have to discover that tapping the sun creates more flowers. By reading directions and some trial and error, players eventually complete the task.

ItzaBitza is intended for prereaders, ages 4+:
ItzaBitza • $20.00
Available in stores or online download at www.ItzaBitza.com.
System Requirements: Windows XP and Vista. Coming soon for Mac platforms.

ItzaBitza, created by Sabi Games, uses one-of-a-kind Living Ink® technology to animate images drawn by children. The program is designed to know when a child is drawing a house, so even if the house looks like a banana or a boat, it animates the drawing accordingly. Living Ink was created by leading video game console experts, after three years of research.

The developers’ groundbreaking innovation has not gone unnoticed. ItzaBitza received a glowing review and a coveted 2009 Parents’ Choice Gold Medal. Below is an excerpt from their review of ItzaBitza:

“The more you play ItzaBitza, the harder it is to stop playing. At first it seems like a basic drawing program. But then the Sketchy starts interacting with the house drawing and the fun begins. Soon stars start popping up with new drawing and problem solving challenges.

Primarily, this far-more-than-meets-the-eye title is about art, logic, and creative problem solving. The secondary emphasis addresses beginning readers. Instructional text is clearly presented in speech balloons, and players can click on any word to have it read aloud. ItzaBitza is a must have addition to your home's interactive library.” -Parents’ Choice Reviewer

ItzaBitza also received a rare The Children’s Technology Review Editor’s Choice Award:

“Even a four-year-old can be a computer designer, with this innovative draw-your-own adventure. At various points, children are asked to draw each part of the story. This is a pretty amazing process. The computer somehow can tell the difference between a door, window and chimney, so when you’re done, your character goes in the door and appears in the window; while smoke comes out of the chimney. When you draw a sun, the rain might stop, things start to blossom and the story elements seem to be amazingly connected, making you want to keep on exploring. The experience is like an interactive flannel board, where children are invited to draw the story elements. It is a very strong early reading experience.” -Children’s Technology Review

ItzaBitza can be purchased via download online at www.ItzaBitza.com, or a boxed CD can be purchased at Amazon.com, Target, Best Buy, Office Depot or at OfficeMax.

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About Sabi , Inc.
ItzaBitza and Living Ink® began as a research effort led by mother of two, Margaret Johnson within Microsoft Corporation. During the fourth year of research, core members of the team spun-off and started Sabi, Inc. Microsoft maintains an equity share based on Sabi’s licensing of the research work. The core team members at Microsoft were game designers and developers who had a successful track record working with video game consoles such as the PlayStation and Xbox. The team collaborated with Dr. John Bransford and his learning science team, which included young child reading specialist Dr. Diana Sharp. ItzaBitza is the first product from Sabi, Inc. For more information visit www.ItzaBitza.com.