Play to learn: Designing games with kids for kids

Hilary Hall

Hilary Hall, Executive Producer, Illumina Digital Ltd

My Thoughts

A look at how working with kids rather then assuming things for an educational game can really help, with the example being Me in the Mix – but don’t think you’ll be able to find it online, it was shut down by the BBC’s trust.


Illumina Digital’s teen games. High broadband products.

Built Me in the Mix, published for BBC jam. Citizenship was covered – justice, democracy etc.

It’s a learning game, so built to teach. While the game specification phase had some work with children on it, could have used a bit more feedback through playtesting. There were important objectives to achieve – a compelling user experience and also to see if it had real life changing behaviour for those who took it.

Focus groups – 19 across 12 school – 9 with 11 year olds and 10 with 14 year olds. Represented the nations of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Interviews and checking about the problems of bullying, about whether they are talked to about local issues (building an Asda nearby for instance). Recommendations was to focus on local issues (global ones are a bit tough for that age), and include positive representations of young people.

Iteration of design – added a £5 reward for good GCSE’s based on feedback. Added and changed some interactions. One design point was going to be making the world look or get better or worse on performance – it was reported kids just wanted to make it look really bad. Instead changed to look bad to begin with and look much better if work towards it.

Looked at feedback from what people said they learned, and it had good effects. Also made sure to do accessibility testing (everything can be tabbed) which was very good.

Working with kids allows first hand experience of their needs, requirements and interests – focus groups worked really well.

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