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Guidelines for Great Mobile Games for Kids (GDC 2013)


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This session builds on the foundation established in past Little Hands, Foul Moods, and Runny Noses sessions. Children have unique intellectual and physical needs, which designers must take into account in order to create engaging gaming experiences. This session provides development guidelines for mobile game design for children (ages 0 to 12), with particular emphasis on developmental milestones, usability, and interaction design findings that are relevant to game developers. Findings are grounded in industry and academic research. Participants will take away findings from existing research on kids and games that can be incorporated into their own game development projects. The discussion will be focused on mobile games, but most findings can be generalized for any child gaming project, regardless of platform. The findings will address children's gaming needs (which are significantly different from older audiences), developmental psychology, UI and input design considerations, usability, and use of storytelling devices. Additionally, participants will have access to a summary document with a list of recommended resources, which includes books and research articles.

Published in: Education

Guidelines for Great Mobile Games for Kids (GDC 2013)

  1. 1. Little Hands, Foul Moods, and Runny Noses: Mobile Games for Kids Carla Engelbrecht Fisher, Ed.D. No Crusts Interactive
  2. 2. 2 No Crusts Interactive 2013
  3. 3. Overview No Crusts Interactive 2013• Child Development Basics• Design Principles for Children’s Mobile Games 3Resources••• Kids Got Game blog Lentini• @NoCrusts
  4. 4. No Crusts Interactive 2013Kids are different than adults. Cognitively 4 and physically. © Pragmagraphr
  5. 5. No Crusts Interactive 2013 5 futurestreetChild Development in a Nutshell @NoCrusts
  6. 6. • Novelty wins No Crusts Interactive 2013 • Enthusiastically use all 5 senses • Early gross motor skills developing • Language skills: grunting  speaking single words  simple word combinations 6 • Basic pattern recognitionInfants & Toddlers (0-2) @NoCrusts
  7. 7. • Learn through exploration No Crusts Interactive 2013 and imagination • Language takes off (pronunciation, sentences, s emantics, conversation) • Focus on the basics – shapes, colors, numbers • Ego-centric and literal 7 woodleywonderworksPreschoolers (3-5) @NoCrusts
  8. 8. • Refine motor skills No Crusts Interactive 2013 • Use complex grammar, develop independent reading skills • Increasing attention spans • Early complex mathematical thinking • Develop social network 8 outside family USAG-HumphreysEarly elementary (6-8) @NoCrusts
  9. 9. • Enjoy problem-solving No Crusts Interactive 2013 • Reading becomes a method of learning • Understand multiplication, division, and logic • Advanced gross motor skills • Develops self-expression and 9 self-worth stevendepoloTween (9-12) @NoCrusts
  10. 10. Children 0-8 (Common Sense Media 2011) No Crusts Interactive 2013 • 17% play console video game once/day. 36% once/week • Access to – Smartphone (41%) – iPod with video (21%) – and/or iPad (8%) • 16% multitask while using 10 media Scott & Elaine van der ChijsGames Use @NoCrusts
  11. 11. Elementary-Aged Children No Crusts Interactive 2013• Children ages 5-9 play video games 39 min (weekday) and 45 min (weekend) • Lower income children, Hispanic, and African-American children consume more media than white and middle class children (Baranowski & Frankel, 2012)• K-5 teachers report using digital games 57%. Middle school 38% 11 • 95% use games that were created specifically for educational use. • Only 18% of teachers report adapting commercial games for classroom use. (Joan Ganz Cooney Center, 2012)Games Use @NoCrusts
  12. 12. Design Guidelines Flickingerbrad@NoCrusts 12 No Crusts Interactive 2013
  13. 13. No Crusts Interactive 2013 13Child-focused apps are increasing presence in App Store(Cooney Center, 2012) @NoCrusts
  14. 14. No Crusts Interactive 2013 14Many topics are saturated (i.e., ABC, matching, flash cards) @NoCrusts
  15. 15. No Crusts Interactive 2013 15Early learning and math are most covered topics.(Cooney Center, 2012) @NoCrusts
  16. 16. No Crusts Interactive 2013 16Co-play opportunities support children’s natural learning styles. @NoCrusts
  17. 17. No Crusts Interactive 2013 17Make more kid-friendly multiplayer games @NoCrusts
  18. 18. No Crusts Interactive 2013 18 © rosenblum68Create opportunities for interaction, even if not embedded into gameplay @NoCrusts
  19. 19. • Be sensitive to older generations No Crusts Interactive 2013 unfamiliarity. Leverage it into design • Engage parents with exchange of expertise. Don’t allow them to just sit back and direct action. • Co-play often requires different avatars 19 Neeta LindIntergenerational design can be challenging @NoCrusts
  20. 20. No Crusts Interactive 2013 20 Neeta LindOpportunities exist to design for mixed skill levels @NoCrusts
  21. 21. No Crusts Interactive 2013 21Create role-playing tools @NoCrusts
  22. 22. No Crusts Interactive 2013 22Create seasonal content and branded screenshots @NoCrusts
  23. 23. No Crusts Interactive 2013 23Popular mechanics can have education layered in or can serve as inspiration @NoCrusts
  24. 24. No Crusts Interactive 2013 24Games present opportunities for executive function practice @NoCrusts
  25. 25. No Crusts Interactive 2013 25Understanding that there’s more beyond the screen is tough for young kids @NoCrusts
  26. 26. No Crusts Interactive 2013 26Understanding that there’s more beyond the screen is tough for young kids @NoCrusts
  27. 27. No Crusts Interactive 2013 27Touch screens and microphones provide great opportunities for music games @NoCrusts
  28. 28. No Crusts Interactive 2013 28Personalization is great for kids @NoCrusts
  29. 29. No Crusts Interactive 2013 29Personalization can also support literacy learning @NoCrusts
  30. 30. No Crusts Interactive 2013 30Multi-touch presents opportunities for math @NoCrusts
  31. 31. No Crusts Interactive 2013 31Multi-touch presents challenges @NoCrusts
  32. 32. No Crusts Interactive 2013 32In-App purchases require thoughtful gates
  33. 33. No Crusts Interactive 2013 33Take steps to avoid another “smurfberry” situation @NoCrusts
  34. 34. Letters with Pooh 785MB The Adventures of Captain Underpants 769MB No Crusts Interactive 2013 Nick Jr Draw & Play HD 642MB Don’t Let the Pigeon Run This App 257MB Team Umizoomi Math: Zoom into Numbers HD 196MB The Monster at the End of This Book 165MB Super Why ABC Adventures: Alphabet for iPad 160MB Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey’s Wildlife Count Along 126MB 34 The Math Tree 90.7MB Toca Hair Salon 2 35.1MB Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Play at Home with Daniel 34.2MBKeep an eye on file sizes @NoCrusts
  35. 35. No Crusts Interactive 2013 35A smartphone is not just a little tablet. It’s often a different user experience. @NoCrusts
  36. 36. No Crusts Interactive 2013 36“Second Screen” opportunities? @NoCrusts
  37. 37. Other things to consider… No Crusts Interactive 2013• COPPA• User testing, repeatedly• Analytics (and COPPA…)• User generated content (and COPPA…) 37• Marketing and distribution• Android vs iOS
  38. 38. Thanks! Questions? No Crusts Interactive 2013•• @NoCrusts• Kids Got Game on 38 Roundtable in 30 minutes! Follow me to Room 114 North Hall