We’re excited to have been profiled in a recent article on games development for kids.
Entitled “The toughest crowd: How little kids pose big problems for game makers“, the article was written by award-winning games journalist Tracey Lien for Polygon, published on The Verge.
In the article, Tracey takes a look at how games for kids are developed and the many challenges and opportunities that developers face. With kids playing more games on more devices than ever before, there is a huge and never-ending demand for compelling gaming experiences. Tracey ponders if designing games for kids is different and if so, how. She challenges a number of common assumptions.
“The assumption is that children are easy to entertain – that, unlike experienced adults with knowledge, understanding and taste, children don’t know any better. So the second assumption is that it must be easy to create entertainment for them. Game developers should just be able to make a McHappy Video Game for the children of the world and wait as those brain switches simultaneously flick. Unfortunately for the hamburger game makers of the world, assumptions can often be wrong.” writes Tracey.
Tracey features three unique games from developers around the world including Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventures, Sesame Street’s Once Upon A Monster and Little Space Heroes.
The article looks at how each developer went about understanding the interests, needs and wants of its audience and how parents and the broader family of game players all have input into what they want.
In discussing Little Space Heroes, Tracey spoke to Paul Gray at Bubble Gum Interactive and learned more about our processes. We’re firm believers that successful games are those designed for an audience. In our case, that audience is kids, who are looking for fun, story-driven, social game experiences. We also placed a great deal of effort into understanding the needs of parents – to ensure that our game was not only fun and engaging, but also safe and inclusive.
We spoke to Tracey about our focus groups, game-testing and our beta program during which time we continually asked questions, observed how kids (and parents) played and rigourously analysed data to understand how the game was played.
“Instead of categorizing their young players by gender and age, Bubble Gum categorized them by personality traits, looking at what type of behavior each child gravitates towards. They identified six dominant gaming personality types, like the nurturer, who likes adopting creatures in a game and is likely to enjoy games like Pokémon or Tamagotchis where they can have a pet, look after it, feed it, and teach it tricks. Another persona is the competitor – a child who likes to compete with other kids and is focused on high scores. Then there’s the creator and the explorer – kids who spend lots of time looking around rather than completing missions, or those fixated with crafting objects and personalizing costumes and buildings.
By identifying what kind of people their players were, the team was able to narrow down what their players might like. This, says Gray, was far more useful than trying to guess what a seven year old boy would enjoy and hoping that what they came up with would appeal to every seven year old boy in the world.” writes Tracey.
We’re very proud to have been involved in Tracey’s article and we learnt a lot about how kids and families engage with different games and entertainment experiences.
Check out Tracey’s article and be sure to share your thoughts and comments there: