Writer / Janet Striebel
Photography / Brian Brosmer
Fishers resident, Joe Oakley, creates children’s games that help develop positive life skills. He works as a doctor and pathologist at Eli Lilly in oncology research. In his spare time, he works as an entrepreneur, marketing his innovative games — Doc Oak’s Games, which represent a new approach to learning, winning and, of course, having fun.
Most traditional games geared for kids are competitive-driven like Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, Trouble and Sorry, Joe’s games are cooperative-driven, in that players need to work together to win.
The games are easy to learn, educational, (STEM-based), quick to play and fun for the family. Incidentally, STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Joe first had the idea for this unique game concept about three years ago when he went on a family vacation to Maine. He observed his two, young, male cousins who were ultra-competitive while playing a game with his daughter, Lily.
“We named her before I joined the company,” Joe says jokingly.
“I wanted to come up with a game where the players would choose to play together instead of competing against each other,” Oakley adds. “I also wanted my daughter to practice her math skills without realizing she was doing that so she could learn while being entertained.”
Recently, Joe released his new game, Finn & Gage: The Lesson of the Lost City. This exciting new board game for ages 6 and up, allows children to help Finn and Gage throughout their treacherous adventures to find the treasure of the Lost City. As they journey, players will practice mathematics and will ultimately discover that two adventurers working together are better than one.
Finn and Gage are equipped with gear drawn from standard science lessons. Players are challenged to help think of ways they can utilize the gear to defeat the Lost City’s obstacles. Although this game is designed for two players, more people can play by establishing teams. Players and teams can choose to play with or against each other.
During the creation process, Joe has reinforced some of his past friendships and encountered more along the way.
For instance, this colorful board game was illustrated by Vince McGinnis, an ENT physician in Michigan, who was a former undergrad roommate with Joe.
Joe also appreciates the fine work put forth by Iconic Digital Marketing, located on Technology Dr. in Fishers. Iconic has done everything from graphic design, website design and marketing strategy, including the animated video and downloadable coloring book on the website.
You can watch a one-minute video at docoaksgames.com to learn how Finn and Gage originated and download the free coloring book.
Another friend, Brittany Lee, who teaches second grade at Ashlawn Elementary School in Arlington, VA has been using Finn & Gage in her classroom. She says the game has made a positive impact with the kids.
“The game is great,” Lee says. “The adventure story opening is a good hook for engaging interest, and it’s at a readable level. I like the integrated power standards for 1st to 2nd graders with addition and subtraction facts and comparing numbers. The battle gameplay taps into that Pokémon vibe that is very popular with the age target. I also like that you can play alone or together.
“It’s a real useful game in terms of reinforcing concepts,” she adds. “Overall, the kids really enjoy it and it’s a popular. I remain impressed by the number of core math skills needed to play.”
Finn & Gage makes for a great positive reinforcement tool in the classroom. For example, when students are finished with their assignments and need a challenge, they could play this game that’s not only fun but educational.
“I would love to get this game into the local first and second grade classrooms,” Joe says. “We’ve already started using it at The Primrose School at Gray Eagle, and the kids really like it.”
Joe is married to Christine Oakley, an endocrinologist in Fishers. Together, they are proud parents of their daughter, Lily (5) and their son, Isaiah (3).
Joe and Christine dated each other in college when she attended West Virginia University and he was a student at Marshall University. During Joe’s fourth year of med school, he recalls how he and Christine were lucky enough to have five seconds of fame in the movie, “We Are Marshall” where they stood amongst the crowd for one scene.
Now Joe is starring in a new scene here in Fishers with an exciting game that will surely make many children, teachers and families happy. Whether they’re in a classroom or in the family room, kids will inevitably learn new concepts while bonding with others and developing skills to prepare them for life.
To order Joe’s games visit Amazon.com or go docoaksgames.com to learn more.