Designing games for children

There’s a thought-provoking article on Eurogamer today about the principles behind designing games for kids. Jonathan Smith, head of production at Traveller’s Tales and director of LEGO Star Wars, says:

Play is closely related to learning. When we have fun, we’re experimenting, discovering and developing our own abilities. This is especially true for children, who have the most at stake in situations of play and learning – the most to gain. That’s why play is more important to children. That’s why they’re the best at it.

George Andreas of Rare notes that younger players tend to be more preoccupied with short-term goals rather than thinking in the long-term – and that boys are particularly stimulated by games that allow them to conquer or control territory. Given that the pool of ‘games for chidren’ overlaps substantially with the pool for ‘games for education’, it’s odd that I can’t think of any recent examples of educational games involving these kind of (as Andreas puts it) bragging rights.

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Audio-only action game simulates blindness

Over at Eurogamer there’s a report on Danish developer PortaPlay’s action-adventure that simulates blindness using audio and no graphics.

It’s set in a semi-factual WWII era where the player is an allied spy dropped behind enemy lines to gather intelligence on a secret German doomsday weapon. The player is blinded during the intro and the rest of the game takes place in complete darkness.

As well as simulating blindness for non-blind players, PortaPlay creative thinker Hans von Knut hopes that the realistic audio environments delivered through in-ear headphones will allow blind players to play the game successfully.

The game has combat, stealth, dialogue and puzzles, and will also feature multiplayer so blind people can play against each other in the same way non-visually-impaired gamers do.

The game is being funded by the film institute Danish Screen, but a release date has not yet been announced.

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