This week in the audiences & experiences unit we were tasked with reading from a few sources, followed by being tasked to play a couple of games with some relevance to the subject matter of these readings — Specifically regarding game design for youth.
The first source I watched was the “Designing Apps and Games for Kids (The Right Way)” which was a GDC panel. I really enjoyed the structure of this, being a panel discussion it was a lot more of a discussion than some things you would see at places like GDC, where sometimes they are just presentations with a Q&A segment at the end, which allowed for more fluidity and inclusions of topics that might not always be covered.
My first reading of choice from the options provided was that of an article by Hector Rodriguez on GameStudies.org covering ideas of play in regards to Homo Ludens. In particular he highlighted the insistence of the author of Homo Ludens that child’s play exhibits the purest form of play — And I kind of agree that this might not be the case, as adult play can often be without logic or purpose (though intellectual involvement usually plays more of a role as we develop mentally, so it may be less common?).
My second reading from the list was that of another article from the same website by Hans Christian Arnseth, this one covering educational research on computer gameplay. I did struggle with this reading somewhat, but it covered a bit about adolescence and how children engaging in game-like activities teaches them important lessons about themselves and their surroundings.
It also discusses contrasting views on whether video games facilitate learning or not, and whether (if this is the case) they serve as a method of making formal learning more pleasurable and motivating. He argues that primarily the positive arguments are relevant, and I would agree in the sense that so long as these are effective learning methods with minimal drawbacks, then that net benefit hopefully should outweight the downsides.
The first of the games I was asked to try out was one called “Metamorphabet”. I honestly enjoyed this one from a experience standpoint a lot, which maybe says a fair bit about my maturity level, but it was quite satisfying to play. The mechanics were simple, but remained engaging due to the variety of sounds, effects and movements you need to perform with each letter. I could easily see my younger self being enamoured by such a thing for a little while, though it felt like it would take quite some time to get through all of the letters. Tying this back to my readings, this feels like quite an educational form of play for a young child to partake in, somewhat supporting the ideas highlighted in Rodriguez’s article.
Lastly we were asked to look at a list of games that may be designed with kids in mind, and to play some of them. Personally I have played a fair chunk of the games on this list, but for the purpose of this blog I re-visited Pokémon and Rocket League. The former of the two is something I very much grew up on, having started in gaming with my first ever game being Pokémon Yellow on the Game Boy Colour. — Overall these two games are relatively simplistic visually, Pokémon being a relatively simple and brightly coloured game, and Rocket League being more of a bright science fiction aesthetic.