Understanding Kids, Play, and Interactive Design : How to Create Games Children Love book cover
1st Edition

Understanding Kids, Play, and Interactive Design
How to Create Games Children Love

ISBN 9780367075255
Published September 11, 2019 by CRC Press
410 Pages

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USD $84.95

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Book Description

This book is a way of sharing insights empirically gathered, over decades of interactive media development, by the author and other children’s designers. Included is as much emerging theory as possible in order to provide background for practical and technical aspects of design while still keeping the information accessible. The author's intent for this book is not to create an academic treatise but to furnish an insightful and practical manual for the next generation of children’s interactive media and game designers.


Key Features

  • Provides practical detailing of how children's developmental needs and capabilities translate to specific design elements of a piece of media
  • Serves as an invaluable reference for anyone who is designing interactive games for children (or adults)
  • Detailed discussions of how children learn and how they play
  • Provides lots of examples and design tips on how to design content that will be appealing and effective for various age ranges
  • Accessible approach, based on years of successful creative business experience, covers basics across the gamut from developmental needs and learning theories to formats, colors, and sounds

Table of Contents



Part1: Sparking Interactive Magic

Chapter 1: The Power of Play

Chapter 2: Creating Invitations to Play

Chapter 3: Maintaining Engagement

Part 2: Engaging the Senses

Chapter 4: Old Brains in a Modern World

Chapter 5: Seeing is Believing: Visual Perception

Chapter 6: Seeing is Believing: Art and Animation

Chapter 7: The Magic of Audio: How We Hear

Chapter 8: The Magic of Audio: Designing Soundscapes for Kids

Part 3: Knowing Your Audience

Chapter 9: How Kids Learn

Chapter 10: Ages and Stages: Why Kids Do What They Do

Chapter 11: Gender: Understanding the Play Patterns of Girls and Boys

Part 4: Creating Digital Playgrounds

Chapter 12: Interface

Chapter 13: The User Relationship

Chapter 14: Characters, Avatars, and Agents

Chapter 15: Supporting Play Patterns

Chapter 16: Community and Virtual Worlds

Part 5: Enhancing the Design Process

Chapter 17: Predesign Considerations

Chapter 18: The Design Process

Chapter 19: The Production Process

Chapter 20: Testing with Kids

Part 6: Case Studies

Chapter 21: Case Study: Club Penguin

Chapter 22: Case Study: Noodle Words








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Mark Schlichting is a publisher, author, and digital pioneer of children's multimedia and interactive design software. He is best known as the creator and subsequent Design and Art Director of Brøderbund's Living Books series, one of the first lines of children's interactive book software on CD-ROM.[1] Schlichting was Design and Art Director for Living Book’s first interactive CD-ROM book adaptation, Mercer Mayer’s Just Grandma and Me, which was one of the first software titles accredited as a school textbook and used as a product demonstration by Apple CEO John Sculley


"This book must be in every children's interactive designer's library. In fact, every interactive designer should read it...a few times." 

    --Warren Buckleitner, Ph.D., Editor, Children's Technology Review

"TeachersWithApps has had the honor and privilege of working directly with Mark Schlichting on several projects. He brings a wealth of knowledge, insight, and passion to everything he touches. Every page of Mark's new book brings another 'aha moment,' and I thought I knew a bit about children's digital space. This book is the bible and a must read for anyone involved in any area related to children, education, and technology."

    --Jayne Clare, Co-Founder, TeachersWithApps

"Mark Schlichting's new book, Understanding Kids, Play, and Interactive Design, is a fantastic resource-the best I've ever seen-for interactive designers and others who want to understand play and learning. Mark is a master creator of great interactive experiences. He's dazzled us for decades with his really funny, endearing products. Now we can learn how he does it. Mark is thorough, precise, and incredibly generous to share his secrets of success. Don't miss this book if you want to create great games children will love. It's a classic that teachers and others should have."

    --Ann H. McCormick, Founder of The Learning Company and Co-Founder of Learning Circle Kids


"Fortunately for us, Mark Schlichting has created this marvelous book. By understanding and thoughtfully explaining what children do in the Kingdom of Play, and how and why they do it, Mark has provided a wonderful resource to those of us who would create fresh, invigorating playthings."

    --Jesse Schell, CEO, Schell Games; Distinguished Professor of the Practice of Entertainment Technology, Carnegie Mellon University; author of The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses

"Mark Schlichting's book, Understanding Kids, Play, and Interactive Design, is the magnum opus of a creative lifetime, full of usable details framed in engaging and visually captivating formats. His book pioneers the blend of ever present technology with culture-enhancing guidance for the next generation of play-savvy designers. Belongs on every kids' play/game designer's bedside table."
  --Stuart Brown, M.D., Founder and President, The National Institute for Play; author of Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul