After my post last week, a group I was part of discussed various ideas about how to use games to teach children about emotion (see last blog for more details). It was generally agreed that it was a fairly difficult task that didn’t have a perfect solution until someone in the group had proposed an idea based off of the Tamagotchi.
If you’re unfamiliar with a Tamagotchi, it was a child’s toy popular in the late 90’s that was basically just a virtual pet. You could pet it, feed it, play with it, and generally take care of it without the work a real pet would require. It was a very simple toy, but it has left an impression on people who had one growing up.
While I still feel that the idea I presented about using a fantasy game would work, this was a far simpler solution. The basic idea is that it would also be a virtual pet that you could take care of, but it would also show emotions that changed its behavior. The player could then respond to help their pet deal with it and make them happy. This could easily be created as a phone game since they are so widely available around the world.
More importantly, this game concept can be adjusted to closely associate with how children develop at this age. I mentioned this in my last post, but children begin try being more independent, can recognize the basic emotions, become engrossed in fantasies, and are experiencing more complex emotions for the first time. A Tamagotchi-styled game would help them feel more independent, create a fantasy around the pet, recognize and let them practice dealing with a range of emotions.
The new issue that arose came from trying to measure whether or not the game would be successful. When trying to create a game with a specific goal in mind, you also need to find a way to prove its effectiveness. Two possible solutions would be to contact users and ask them to take a survey to measure a child’s EQ (emotional quotient), or to partner with school and work with teachers to provide students with opportunities to play the game and record behaviors to see if there is any change over the course of several months.
Like in my past blog articles, I hope this provides a good starting point for people considering a game for this topic. I will be working with the people below and trying to build some sort of working prototype in the coming weeks.