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Kids' content "shouldn't be childish"

Virtual Fairground co-founders also underline the importance of quality in blossoming sector

When creating videogame products for children, it's crucial to make sure that the content involved doesn't come across as "childish" - nor should the lower target demographic act as an excuse to skimp on quality.

That's the advice of Virtual Fairground co-founders Ilja Goosens and Maarten Brands, speaking in an interview with GamesIndustry.biz being published as part of a week of content focused on the market for younger children.

"I think you shouldn't underestimate the ability of kids - content shouldn't be childish," said Goosens, whose company is hard at work bringing the Club Galactik virtual world to market. "It's aimed at kids, but kids aspire to being older. For example, our avatars looked pretty young - our designers made them the same age as the kids, about 12 or so - but we found that the kids who were playing didn't want to look like that.. but you can't make it too sexy, so it's a very fine balance.

"You also need to create a quality product, and something that will challenge them - even if they're eight or ten. What I've noticed is that if you challenge kids they'll be hungry for more, and that way you get them in, let them keep playing, and have different stages in your product. Hopefully it'll be engaging enough that you've made a grown-up game with a children's theme. That's rare - mostly people just make something young."

And Brands added that there was a risk that too many me-too products would damage the growing sector - something that the industry would have to work to avoid.

"It's a challenge for the industry to not let that segment be dominated by cynical, marketing-driven, cheaply-made stuff just to buy into a movie or series," he said. "Really high quality kids' entertainment is a challenge, because you don't have the marketing budget of a Transformers spin-off, or whatever.

"For us, we're gamers - we want to see good quality products, so we've invested a lot of time and money, more perhaps then a lot of competitors. But I hope enough other people will do that as well."

The full interview with Goosens and Brands is available now.


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