I have a copy of Mark Schlichting’s book, “Understanding Kids, Play, and Interactive Design,” on my desk at all time.
It explores the world of children’s interactive media and design. Schlichting is an expert in children’s media and has designed several award-winning educational games for children. The book covers a wide range of topics related to children’s play and interactive design, including the development of interactive media, the role of play in learning, and how to design effective educational games for children.
In the first section of the book, Schlichting provides an overview of the history and development of interactive media for children. He discusses the evolution of children’s media from early educational television programs to modern interactive apps and games. Schlichting also emphasizes the importance of understanding the developmental stages of children and their cognitive abilities when designing interactive media.
The second section of the book focuses on the role of play in learning. Schlichting explains that play is a fundamental part of human development and that it is essential for children’s cognitive, social, and emotional development. He discusses the different types of play and how they can be incorporated into interactive media to enhance learning and engagement.
The third section of the book delves into the principles of interactive design for children. Schlichting provides practical advice on how to create effective educational games for children, including designing for multiple skill levels, using feedback to motivate children, and incorporating narrative elements into the game design. He also emphasizes the importance of testing and iterating on game designs to ensure that they are effective and engaging for children.
Throughout the book, Schlichting emphasizes the importance of creating interactive media that is age-appropriate and culturally relevant. He argues that interactive media can play a powerful role in promoting cultural understanding and diversity, but only if it is designed with sensitivity and understanding.
One of the key themes of the book is the idea that interactive media can be a powerful tool for learning and development, but only if it is designed with intention and care. Schlichting stresses the importance of creating interactive media that is engaging and fun for children, while also providing meaningful educational content.
Another important theme is the idea that interactive media can play a role in promoting social and emotional learning. Schlichting discusses how interactive media can be used to teach children important skills like empathy, problem-solving, and collaboration.
So why do I keep it on my desk?
While the book covers a wide range of topics related to game design for children, it provides a comprehensive framework and set of principles that designers can refer to throughout the design process.
For example, during the ideation and prototyping stage, designers can refer to the book to gain a better understanding of the developmental stages of children and the role of play in learning. This can help them create game concepts that are age-appropriate and aligned with the needs and interests of their target audience.
As the design progresses, designers can refer to the book to gain insights into the principles of interactive design for children, including how to design for multiple skill levels, use feedback to motivate players, and incorporate narrative elements into game design. These principles can help designers create effective and engaging games that promote learning and development.
Even in the final stages of production, designers can refer to the book to ensure that their game meets the standards of quality and effectiveness outlined in the book. By using the book as a reference throughout the design process, designers can create games that are well-designed, engaging, and aligned with the needs and interests of children.