Encouraging co-op play between kids

Encouraging co-op play between kids

Using game mechanics to enhance playability in kids games

Co-op play enables children to play with friends or siblings on the same device, encouraging social bonding.

Finding ways to engage kids online when there’s so much competition for their attention can be a real challenge. But the big hitters like Fortnite, Minecraft, and the gaming platform Roblox don’t always provide the variety of gameplay that kids crave. The BBC were looking for a game aimed at 6 – 7 year olds, based on the hit children’s TV show, The Worst Witch. The challenge with this game was to address the need for the gameplay to allow ‘social bonding’ within this target audience; or to put it simply, letting kids play the game with their friends. But how do you do this when the BBC platform doesn’t support online multiplayer gaming?

Working with the BBC we designed and developed The Worst Witch: The Enchanted Stones, a unique web game that allows kids to play with a friend or sibling in the same room, rather than online. This meant that the game had to be designed so the kids could take it in turns, passing the device/ controls to their friend when it’s their turn. Players are able to either play with a friend in a specially designed Co-op mode, or against one another in Competition mode.

Designing a game for this relatively young audience, we had to consider that there’s a huge difference in what young players can manage verses their older siblings. Technically, we also had to work out how to create the co-op mode where two friends could play together on the same mobile or desktop. We carried out a number of user testing sessions  with 6 – 7 year olds at a local school to make sure we’d pitched the playabililty and gameplay experience just right.

The Worst Witch: The Enchanted Stones contains two compelling game mechanics designed to keep kids engaged and encourage replayability.

In-game examples of drawing shapes for gesture recognition and co-op play with both players on the same broom.

The Worst Witch: The Enchanted Stones launched initially in September and was then updated for Halloween with a brand-new gameplay mode and a selection of spooky collectables. This unique 3D game contains two compelling game mechanics; a gesture recognition mechanic that allows kids to draw spells on the screen, and a lane changing mechanic which is very popular with kids.

Catering for co-op, turn-based play, The Enchanted Stones was designed with retention and replayability at its heart.

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