Blog Post

Can I play, too?

 For many of us, our first memories of gaming come from watching our older siblings and probably their friends playing video and computer games. We began to think about this in terms of whether this is true of children today. Some articles have been written about parents allowing very young children to use their parents' iPhones to play games. However, from non-scientific observation, we still think that many children learn about games from their older siblings.

We started to think about what the children in our target demographic have learned about games from their older siblings in the past two to five years.

First, we considered the idea of "physicality".  By "physicality", we ask, "Can someone else watch you play the game?", "Can someone else play the game with you?", and "Can someone else play the same game?". Taking the idea of physicality,  we divided games into three categories. The first category is made up of video games played on a TV, the second is made up of games played on a computer and the third is made up of any games played on hand-held devices- Nintendo DS, Cell Phone, Game boy, etc. 

The following example explains our idea of, "physicality".

Everyone on our team watched their older siblings play video games on the TV at some point in their childhood. We would watch them play and if our siblings felt like being nice, we might be able to play with them. After our siblings left the room, we might go and play their video games, with or without their consent. The games could be seen by anyone who could see the TV screen, it was possible for people to play the games together and you could also play those games. 

The physicality element was important because we could watch, we could play with them and we could play the same game. The question is whether it is still the same now that online games have become popular.

Taking this example, we have had discussions about what children in our current target demographic may have learned about gaming from their siblings. We launched this project more than two years ago. A child who would have been in our target demographic then, may no longer be in it now. However, a younger sibling, who would not have been in our target demographic two years ago, could easily be part of it now.

The question of what a child in our target demographic learned from older siblings has become a topic of great interest for our team.




Interesting. But do online games offer a potential for in-game interaction that might be more engaging than watching someone else play a game? Or is there something unique and important about watching another person play?


Watching other people play, particularly in the context Laura described. She is talking about learned behavior from elder siblings or peers which is a different kind of interactivity that what online gaming affords. TV's are typically on a larger screen and in a living room as opposed to say an office or bedroom. The same principal does apply to online games though - the younger sibling is likely to want to observe and duplicate behavior in that realm as much as in the realm of console gaming.


Your intriguing post reminded me of an article I read this morning.  Apparently the former head of Nickelodeon is producing game content for the iPhone.  I suppose the assumption is that parents will either buy their children iPhones or offer them when their kids are bored.  What are the implications for handing over gaming as a "pass-a-fire" for children?  I wonder how this relates to the way that kids discover gaming.