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Nixon: Developers Should Design For Kids, Adults Simultaneously

As part of an in-depth new Gamasutra editorial, AWE Games' Scott Nixon (SpongeBob SquarePants, Cars series) has been criticizing the lack of 'piggybacking'

December 10, 2007

2 Min Read

Author: by Staff

As part of an in-depth new Gamasutra editorial, AWE Games' Scott Nixon (SpongeBob SquarePants, Cars series) has been criticizing the lack of 'piggybacking', child-specific game writing/design that also appeals to adults. Nixon, whose company has worked on a plethora of kid-oriented titles over more than 10 years, notes in particular of examples in other industries: "Piggybacking is an art that cartoons and movies have arguably mastered. A good example is SpongeBob SquarePants. Here is a cartoon that appeals to the very young and the post-adolescent crowd for entirely different reasons. It has the visual appeal and wackiness to draw in the younger viewers, but it also has darker themes and adult-oriented humor to keep college kids and parents from dying of boredom." However, towards the end of the piece, he pinpoints what he sees as a major problem encounter when making video games for children: "Tragically, when writing about the games business, many paragraphs begin with adverbs like "tragically", and many publishers and developers skimp on writers when it comes to creating children's games. Even worse, many writers skimp on writing when working on children's games -- an opportunity squandered. It might not be such an issue if you aren't concerned with appeasing the adult spectator role, but if a good work ethic isn't enough to disavow you of this notion, it's a good idea to remember who possesses the buying power in the parent-child relationship. While your primary target demographic may not notice shoddy wordsmithing, your secondary one probably will." The full editorial from Nixon is now available on Gamasutra, and also includes plenty more detail on his definition of 'piggybacking', and some of the methods he has used to ensure that the whole family is interested in kid-friendly titles.

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