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.