CIPHER-8 is fundamentally about arithmetic. However, the interactions are all tied to grid-based spatial dynamics. This ensures the player is not doing a series of math chores, but is instead constantly thinking about positional relations. The transformation of their thinking while making their way through the game is an illustration of Frank Lantz’s model of games being "a way for thought to become visible to itself".
The game also harkens back to my 2014 master’s thesis, in which I argued that educational games should weave their teaching into their core mechanics rather than serving it on the side.