Pre-Schooler Games, For TOGer Parents
The other day i was watching a BBC World News technology segment called "Click". Where the interesting topic of games for pre-school children came up. Where basically the game industry market doesn't reach very well.
Here are a couple of offerings online for free games catering towards Pre-Schoolers:
1) Fisher Price Link
2) Fun Gooms Link
3) Disney's Club Penguin Link
Since i'm not a parent, nor do i have any form of kids in any capacity, unless i count myself. ;) Those would be the only limited resources i would know about for the pre-schooler demographic.
I think the reason there aren't many games for children 6 and under is that, for the most part, children that young can't grasp them?
Games are formal systems of rules. An understanding of the world and language are somewhat required to participate in the interaction, as is a relatively high amount of motor control and muscle memory required to operate game control devices like a mouse/keyboard and or game controller. Understanding the rules, identifying goals and generating motives that spur the player to progressing towards achieving those goals is a kind of behaviour that usually doesn't start to exert itself until about 7 or 8 years old. At a younger age children seem more interested in pure "play" rather than games, where there are no hard or set rules that govern what interactions are allowed or disallowed.
If you put a 6 year old in front of a car racing game I grantee you they will have almost no interest in winning the race, but will be content to explore the "playfulness" of crashing into other cars over and over again, rules and goals be dammed. I think any parent, uncle or aunt on TOG can attest to this behaviour.
Interactive toys on the other hand are usually much more approachable, but they're quite different to "games".
Game = play governed by rules and goals.
Toy = open ended play (Pacman without any ghosts to chase/stop you).
I'm not saying that children 6 and under can't play games, but when they do it's usually done with an adult that is constantly adjusting the rules and pace to keep the child appropriately challenged and interested (you'll ignore rules selectively if they're having fun), something that's dead difficult to do with software.
It's an age bracket I think the industry on a whole still has trouble with. Food for thought anyway.
I think there are quite a few iPad apps for children though. Lots of lightly interactive stories and toys that can play around with because the interaction method of "just touch stuff" is greatly simplified. Sadly my nephew is now 10 and much more interested in "shooting the bad guys" so I haven't looked into them that much.
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