Kids Play - Designing a touch screen game with children

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
Degree programme
Master's Degree Programme in New Media
Uuden median maisteriohjelma
Playing is an important part of the development of young children. The growth in number of touch screen devices owned by families has offered game designers an opportunity to create new kind of playing experiences also for young children. In order to design appealing games for children they should be included in the game design process. With age-appropriate methods the design process can be a fun activity for the participants and offer valuable results to support the design work. This thesis describes a design process of a children’s music genre game where children participa- ted in one phase of designing the game. The game was built for the Apple iPad device. Altogether 52 children aged between 3 and 7 years participated in design workshops. The game was designed and tested together with these children by using age-appropriate co-creation and research methods. The workshop results were used for designing and developing the early stage prototype into a finalized product. Literature study was conducted on children’s cognitive development, children’s different roles in design processes and methods where children are an essential part of the process. Based on the found material a detailed structure for sessions to be held in 5 day workshop was planned. Used methods included the Fun toolkit, Cooperative inquiry, Mixing ideas and Layered collaboration. Some changes to the original methods had to be made, because the available timespan was shorter and the participating children were partly younger than the ones the methods were created for. The workshops initially provided qualitative and quantitative results which were analysed after the workshops. The most important benefit from organizing the workshops was to be able to “go in- side” of children’s minds. Observing them while they were playing and seeing what is interesting to them and makes them laugh was very important source of insight and inspiration. Based on this knowledge the following key game element themes were formed: abnormalities, achievements, funny failures, stardom / pretend play and surprises. These themes were used as the basis for further game design work. The overall game concept was reformed and new features were designed.
Leinonen, Teemu
Thesis advisor
Purma, Jukka
co-creation, participatory design, game design, Fun Toolkit, Cooperative Inquiry, Mixing Ideas, Layered Collaboration
Other note
  • The thesis and game is exhibited at MoA 2013.