The Computing and Electronics Youth Club's development group has created a new product to enhance learning and entertainment for Cuban families, Ludox, the country's first online platform created by a national institution to play video games on the web, available, beginning December 7, at enlaceludox.cubava.cu.
In the context of activities for the 30th anniversary of the Youth Club's founding, celebrated this past September 30, the collective created the platform with more than 40 games, 13 designed in Cuba.
The site is accessible from any device - cell phone, tablet, or PC - and the games can be enjoyed offline and on the web individually, or online playing with other users, according to MSc Danays Moreno, director of the institution's programs, speaking with Granma.
Galaxia, Súper Bola, Tasilany, Beisbolito, Activando Neuronas, and Gesta Final, are some of the 13 Cuban video games created by the Youth Club that can be accessed at the site.
The others, designed abroad, are free on the internet and are included to make them available to Cuban families at a .cu domain, she explained.
With the premise that it's fun to learn, "The range of video games we present are interactive in nature," she said, "For example, to acquire painting skills or broaden historical knowledge, they activate psychological processes, like memory and concentration, develop thinking and motor skills."
Ludox also includes a news section, where users can learn about the latest novelties in the world of gaming. Links to other Youth Club products, like the popular Mochila and Estanquillo, are also available.
There is a "Contact Us" section, through which users are offered email access to the development team, and can send their "concerns and suggestions about the site's content," Moreno noted.
The Ludox project emerged in January with the aim of rescuing the national video games created in recent years which, at times, are unknown or inaccessible.
"This was the biggest challenge we faced: to collect and analyze the products created by the Youth Club from all the provinces of the country," explained engineer Yilian Sánchez Contreras, principal general specialist of the institution's Video Game Development Group.
The selection criteria were that these games be appropriate, of quality and attractive for a broad audience, mainly for children and adolescents, the specialist noted.
For Bladimir Pavón, web developer and project leader, the development of the portal represented a huge challenge for the team.
"We wanted the platform to be easy to navigate, for the page to be accessible from any type of device, and for the images not to be too large, to achieve the greatest possible fluidity. And I think we achieved it," he stated.
Creating an attractive design also took a lot of dedication, explained Vladimir Lauret, visual arts designer and animator.
"We focused," Lauret added, "on the page being as intuitive as possible, so that the illustrations themselves would indicate the content of each section, based on the latest trends. It was a challenge to achieve as professional as possible a product."
Although it's too early to talk about a video game industry in Cuba, the first steps have already begun and Ludox is proof of such.
Although the Youth Club is an independent institution and does not have a large budget, "With little we managed to create fun and educational games, with a message, an objective... For that reason, I believe that this platform can be the basis of the emergence of this industry in Cuba," stated young project programmer Marcos Alonso.
Ludox also aims to encourage Cuban developers who are independently creating video games with the tools they have, he added.
According to Danays Moreno Moreno, the Youth Club is calling on all agencies, institutions or self-taught individuals who participate in the development of video games in Cuba, to send their content to be included on the portal.
"They will be welcome, as long as they comply with the principles and values of our society and with the conditions of the Computing and Electronics Youth Club. It can be a simple game, but one that entertains and educates," she noted.
This will allow access to Cuban families and the recognition that interesting and interactive video games are being created in Cuba, stressed Leonel Tamayo, computer technician and programmer of the Youth Club development group.
According to industrial designer Luis Cantero, this proposal will facilitate the creation of a community where institutions, agencies and video game developers in Cuba share new contents and experiences with users.
"Ludox has exceeded all our expectations and we believe that it will be very popular with Cuban families," stated Danays Moreno. However, this is just a starting point. Users who visit the portal today "will have access to the first version of the many that are to come," she added.
According to Yilian Sánchez, the Youth Club is working on an .apk version for android mobile devices. In addition, as the contributions of other developers are included, "We will strengthen the infrastructure and potential of the site," she noted.
For now, the Youth Club Development Group will update the portal on a weekly basis, Danays Moreno explained, adding that those who have any difficulties accessing Ludox can visit the website from any of the institution’s branches.
Ludox is already available to the public. The latest proposal of the Computing and Electronics Youth Club, as a pioneer in the field of video games in Cuba, is as simple as it is attractive: play, have fun and learn.