Channel 4 has commissioned a number of new educational games, contracting eight UK studios to produce content for younger audiences and engage those who are more comfortable with interactive projects than traditional broadcasting.
The broadcaster has promised that its education budget will not be cut, and has added an extra £1 million of funding to reach the 10-14 year old demographic. The commissions, and funding increase, serve to reinforce Mudlark chief Toby Barnes' reassurances that Channel 4 would continue to invest in the digital sector after it closed its digital innovation wing, 4ip, last month.
"Channel 4 Education is utterly committed to providing engaging, exciting material for our target audience, now extended to include 10-14 year olds," said Alice Taylor, commissioning editor for education.
"Covering a fantastic range of formats and platforms, the projects are varied and fun whilst still tackling useful and important subject matter. As usual we aim to represent teens – and now tweens – in their best light, and to continue to find new talent and recruit UK independents in the drive to provide public service content of the very highest quality."
The games will cover topics such as health, ethics, finance and citizenship, offering younger audiences an easily accessible inroad to understanding complex issues. Whilst most of the games will be online and browser-based, at least one, from Scottish developer Proper Games, is bound for consoles.
Other studios commissioned in the drive are Tuna, Playniac, Zoe Mode, Preloaded, Littleloud, Big Robot and Paulina Bozek's London studio Inensu. A full list of the projects follows.
Footfall: An online management game which teaches the basics of business by asking players to run a shoe retail outlet, building it into an international corporation. Developed by Preloaded.
Vinyltopia: Proper Games' console title, which will also educate on business and finance, but by the running of a record label.
International Racing Squirrels: Another financial education title, this time from Playniac, aimed at teaching 14-15 year old females about personal finance.
Walking City: An urban sim from Big Robot, designed to teach 14-16 year old males about city life and civic responsibility.
The End: A platform game about death, belief and science, developed by Preloaded for 14-19 year olds.
Yes Chef!: A educational tool about eating and nutrition, teaching recipes to 14-19 year olds from developer Playerthree.
Closet Swap and Sweatshop: Developed by Inensu and Littleloud respectively, to teach 10-14 youths about ethical fashion choices and how to make them.
Who I Am: From Zoe Mode, encourages young people to investigate what makes them who they are, and to compare their beliefs with friends.
Truth Specs: An addition to existing title Super Me, all about adolescent transition. Produced by Somethin' Else.
Cover Girl: A game about the way that females are presented in the media, focused on the unrealistic expectations placed upon young women, from indie developer Tuna.
Channel 4 Education has previously commissioned the likes of Privates and The Curfew.