It’s a problem that’s been around since the onset of technology – how to interest youngsters in their school work when there are so many modern-day distractions.
But one games developer may just have come up with the solution, at least for children who are busy learning about the Second World War.
Games designer Bruce Steele has come up with a new iPad game- Flypast, that shows just how hard it was for the Allied bombers to complete the infamous Dam Busters mission in 1943.
Released to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the mission, the Flypast game depicts the challenges faced by the 133 airmen who took part in the operation, one of the RAF’s most daring and legendary raids. Immortalised in the 1954 film Dam Busters, the mission began when 19 Lancaster bombers took off from a runway in Lincolnshire, each carrying a purpose-built bouncing bomb, designed by Dr Barnes Wallis, which they dropped on dams in Nazi Germany’s industrial heartland.
To hit their targets, the men had to fly perilously low, dipping down to just 60ft, just two or three times the height of the average house. As well as the low altitude, the pilots also had to cope with night-time flying and 56 of the men who took off died during the mission.
Now Steele, inspired by his work as a pilot and having taken advice from the RAF, has created a 3D simulation of the famous World War II operation in the Flypast game, based on real satellite date he has unearthed and the weather and visibility conditions that night.
But, such was the challenge faced by the real-life pilots, Steele has had to dumb down his new Flypast game in order to make sure it is playable.
“The first version of the Flypast game was so accurate that nobody could play it,” he explains. “The challenges faced by these men were so great that I had to simplify the gameplay so that people could actually play it.”
But even after it has been given the equivalent of a Simplify on Phillip Schofield-hosted The Cube, the game app still needs an awful lot of skill. Players must fly their craft, which has a wingspan of 100-ft under bridges and over electricity lines. Difficult enough on a game simulator, the pressure faced by the original squadron of men, who could only see by the light of the moon, must have been immense.
To complete the Flypast game mission, players have to fly through Holland to Western Germany before bombing the great dams of the Ruhr Valley and trying to make it safely home to England. As with the real event, you only have 19 aircraft, with one bomb each, to destroy all three dams and all bombs must be dropped from an exact height and distance for your mission to succeed.
Whether you have what it takes to fly a mission that many at the time deemed impossible remains to be seen. But The Dambusters game should certainly give a new generation an insight into at least a little bit of history.
The Dambusters runs on iPhone 4 and above and the iPad2 and above. Costing £1.99, it has already won rave reviews. One iTunes reviewer said: “Brilliant – authentic, exciting and great fun,” while another said: “Fantastic sound, graphics and really good game play,” adding: “Dam, this is good.”