Design Video Games For Children

March 25, 2021
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Video game creation for children is different from video game creation for adults. Whereas adults play games primarily for entertainment, children often play games for educational purposes, socialization, and problem-solving abilities. They do so at the blessing of their parents, and often cannot play games if their parents do not approve.

Creating for children requires the game designer to understand the desires of the children and their parents. If you’re a video game designer just getting your start in video game creation for children, here’s what you need to know.

  1. Know the Age Range, Know Their Abilities

Children have developmental milestones, physical and cognitive. Before you can design a video game for a child, you must first know your audience’s age range and their abilities. If the video game is too complex for the audience, the target audience will not (and likely cannot) play it.

If you’re currently going to school for video game design, take a child-development class. Study books and other forms of entertainment for children of your audience age range. Become familiar with the type and quality of games that children play at your target age range.

  1. Know What Children Want

Develop your game to meet the needs of your audience. Children prefer games that they can play independently, without help from a parent. They like games that present problems they can solve creatively.

As children age, games with a social element become attractive as well. Children like being able to meet with other children in chat rooms and other social environments to discuss games and strategies.

  1. Understand the Role of the Parent

When children are very young (5 and younger), parents select their child’s video games for them. As children age, they are allowed to select their own video games independently.

Parents rely heavily on ratings and reviews when choosing games for their child. Games that are not yet reviewed or which are poorly reviewed have a hard time competing against games that are tried and true.

Parents typically choose games designed to enhance academic development. Video games (especially games for the youngest players) must have a purpose. Parents look for games that help with math, science, or language development.

Successful video game listings must be reassuring to parents, even while they’re enticing for children. When crafting your game listing, use words that indicate the game has academic value. The more value the game seems to have, the more parents will download the game and later review that game positively.

  1. Design Responsibly

Children are shaped by the world around them, and games for children can affect their development in subtle ways. Developing games responsibly is especially important when catering to young audiences. Inappropriate use of violence will naturally repel parents, making the video game difficult to market.

If you’re not sure whether a video game concept is appropriate for a young child, consult with other designers for ideas and feedback. Seek input before designing your game.

  1. Test the Game On Your Audience (and Their Parents!)

Before sending your game into the world, test the game on children and parents. Ask the children to play the game with their parents and then on their own. When children play the game independently, have the parents watch.

Interview game players after playing to find out what they thought. Ask questions that can help you understand how your audience (and their parents) process what they see.

Asking questions to young children can be especially challenging. Use these tips to keep the words and questions simple to ensure best results:

  • Write the questions in advance.
  • Don’t ask two-part questions.
  • Use the simplest form of each word when talking to young children.
  • Start with simple questions and get more complex.
  • Keep the interviews short.

When talking to parents, ask them about the perceived value of the game and what can be done to increase value. Learn their priorities for their child when they choose games. Understanding these issues can help you make improvements that will affect the launch.

  1. Launch Games That Can Be Played Independently

Parents who must help their child play a game will often delete or remove that game in favor of games that can be played independently. To ensure that your audience is able to manage the game on their own, be careful when selecting an appropriate age range for the listing.

Test a range of ages during the testing phase and observe the children as they play. If the parent must help the child throughout the gaming experience, then that child is probably too young for the game.

Use a Reliable Game Monetization System

Once the game is tested and ready to be launched, align yourself with a video game monetization system. For more information about making money from your video games, contact Xsolla. We’ll be happy to answer your questions and give you more tips for success.

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