Announcing Classcraft’s 2019-2020 gear refactor

Every year at Classcraft, we release awesome new features to kick off the back-to-school season. For the team, this is a big moment as it serves as a milestone in our journey, showing us how much the company has grown in the past year. 

We’re happy to say, this September is no different.

We’ve put a lot of energy into defining our company values and building out the world of Classcraft with the release of Story Mode: Season 1. We saw this back to school as an opportunity to update our in-game assets to better align with both of those initiatives.

This week, we’re proud to announce that we’ve begun to introduce these changes, which will continue for the next few months.

So, what’s changing?

Specifically, we are making some small tweaks to maps and student gear to harmonize them with the expansive new world we’ve created while addressing concerns around violence and some minor religious connotations that have been carried over from our roots in gaming. We’re starting this transition by changing Warriors to Guardians, updating the power names and images, and shifting “falling in battle” to simply “falling.”

Now, a mea culpa.

As the complexity proved to be a logistical challenge, we did not do a good enough job of communicating that these changes were coming. We know we have a responsibility here, not only because these changes will be noticeable to students, but also out of respect for how much energy you have invested in Classcraft. We will do better moving forward. 

You’ll be able to catch a glimpse of some of our new assets soon, but rest assured: We have MUCH more cool gear (and other fun surprises) on the way. What you see over the next few weeks is only the tip of the iceberg. In fact, one reason why we refactored the assets was to create a more cohesive universe that aligns with Story Mode. Not only will the updates be a lot of fun for your students in and of themselves, but they’ll take on a whole new level of meaning as students discover the links between the updates and the Story Mode narrative.

What we talk about when we talk about swords

That’s the practical aspect of things, but there’s another dimension to the gear refactor that we should probably discuss. Which is, what the new gear says about Classcraft as a company.

Common among the criticisms we’ve received for removing weapons is that we’re “neutering” Classcraft — that by removing swords and other gear associated with violence, we’re making Classcraft not as fun, or effective, as it used to be.

To respond to the underlying concern here: We get it. Classcraft can make an incredible impact on learning, but the fact that kids love Classcraft is what makes the whole thing go. Motivating students by making learning fun is what we’re here for, after all.

But it’s not just what we’re trying to achieve that’s important — how we do it matters just as much. Classcraft is a company steeped in values, and we see student motivation as our way to promote those values of engagement, collaboration, growth, and quality.

So we had to ask ourselves: Are the swords themselves what makes Classcraft so much fun? Or is it what the swords represent — power, autonomy, and identity — that kids like?

After a lot of reflection, we answered “Yes” to that second question. In a lot of ways, it’s easy to signify what the swords represent through weaponry. What’s much more of a creative challenge, and much more interesting to the Storytelling team here at Classcraft, is finding a way to signify those things without falling back on things like weapons. 

Going back to our mission, the who also matters. We’ve been fortunate to build a loyal community of gamer-educators who are able to put the swords-and-sorcery aspect of gaming into context. But if Classcraft as a company is going to make the biggest impact it can, we need to think about all of the educators and students who aren’t as comfortable with the idea of weapons. 

Change is never easy, especially when that change involves something you care about deeply. And make no mistake, the decision to make changes to our gear was something we deliberated (and debated) internally for quite some time. There were passionate voices on both sides. Ultimately, we realized that we couldn’t claim to stand for the things we stand for and have weapons in Classcraft.

The best way to deal with change is to stay engaged. To that end, we’re excited to get your feedback on the new gear and other assets we’ll be adding, and we’re going to work to find ways to involve our most loyal and passionate users in an ongoing conversation around the IP and Classcraft more broadly.

For now, we hope you have a clearer sense of the changes happening at Classcraft. We hope you’ll stick with us on the journey, because we have a lot of fun stuff in store for you this year and we’re as excited as ever to see what great things we can achieve together for our kids.

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