THE gaming industry has not always considered babies and pre-school children as a key demographic, but two new games from Scottish developers are aiming to entertain youngsters while encouraging them to learn.
Topsy and Tim: Fun Around The House by Chunk and Tolva And Ting by Me & The Giants are designed specifically with young players in mind, offering beguiling and easily understandable gameplay.
The former title is based around the successful BBC children’s programme of the same name. The cross-platform, web browser title, created in conjunction with Darrall Macqueen, has an unusual play mechanic, eschewing ideas such as accumulating points or moving through levels. Instead, children play the game’s repeat activities - such as decorating cupcakes or caring for a rabbit - in a freeform way so as to mirror other patterns of learning.
In the latest example of a game closely built around existing BBC franchises, the Glasgow-based developers visited the show’s set, and the title’s layouts are based on those plans, incorporating recognisable designs and decor from the CBeebies programmes, themselves inspired by the long-running series of children’s books.
Donnie Kerrigan, managing director of Chunk, explained: “It was important to create a game that did justice to such well-loved characters and that supported the inquisitive, supportive feel of the books.
“Games are valuable experiences for all ages and are an opportunity for adults and children to play along - learning and teaching together. Kids can relate to Topsy and Tim as the activities are similar to their own lives and experiences, both through the game and the TV show as complementary experiences.”
Tolva And Ting, meanwhile, uses its characters to help young children explore their developing emotional states. The concept is underpinned by Globots, robots which glow depending on how they are feeling. A ring of red, for example, denotes anger, and the player is tasked with supplying fuel for the robots to maintain their emotional wellbeing.
The mobile title, created in conjunction with the University of Glasgow and Creative Series, is part of a growing series of games under the Tolva And Ting banner, each of which aim to impart subtle lessons to preschoolers, whether it be motor skills or colour recognition.
Margaret Sutherland, deputy director of the university’s Centre for Research and Development in Adult and Lifelong Learning, explained: “Children will often behave in certain ways because of how they are feeling. Helping them to recognise these feelings and to see that they can change their feelings and thus their behaviour is an important part of their development. Parents and children can work together to better understand this relationship through helping the Globots to change their feelings, moods and behaviour.”
NEWS IN BRIEF
BO’NESS-based independent developer Pixel Sword has announced its latest game, an arcade action inspired by the seminal Super Hexagon.
Squares of Black Space challenges players to survive as long possible against a constant wave of squares. A fast-paced colour matching game, it places an emphasis on old-school leaderboard competition.
The studio, founded by Paul Leishman, is currently working on a series of titles, including Pixel Raiders, a homage to Space Invaders and other classic arcade shooters.
Squares of Black Space will be released soon on PC, Linux and Windows Phone 8. Leishman also plans to release a free version of game - featuring one level - for Windows Phone 8 and HTML5 browsers.
EDINBURGH’S Tigerface Games has been nominated for a prestigious award showcasing the best in children’s interactive media.
The studio, which specialises in collaborative based learning projects, has been recognised for Sushi Scramble, an app which allows multiple players to collect letters and serve them to customers in a restaurant.
The title, designed to improve spelling, sees users compete or collaborate in order to form as many words as possible.
It is one of the nominees for the 2014 Kids at Play Interactive award. Previous winners include Skylanders Giants and Toca Boca.