As one would expect, all three of the child-made games are as wildly different as their players' imaginations. The only real unifying factor is that they've all been created for mobile or social game platforms. It seems like the iOS and Flash have presented a unique opportunity for young developers to get into the game of game-making a lot sooner.
"We've seen how, given an accessible technology like the iPad, children will find interesting, novel uses," says Jaime Woo, creator and host of youth-oriented design program Gamercamp Jr. "The technological barriers for making games have fallen so quickly. Computers are more powerful and software has become more user-friendly. Even better, more and more people know how to make games and can provide advice. These factors will continue to come together and help more children make games like Ponycorns and Bubble Ball."
This consistently lowering barrier to entry is going to be a good thing for the industry as a whole. The more we can encourage young people to get involved with game design at an early age, the more we will pave the way for future game developers. Just like efforts to draw females or ethnic minorities into the development community, including children can only help to expand the overall variety of content that is produced.
Woo continues, "I think having kids creating games will have a huge impact on the industry. Kids are naturally creative. They already take existing materials and remix and re-imagine them in interesting ways." He's right, too; looking at these recent examples they're all twists on existing titles. This makes the case that maybe kids are better at understanding what the best parts of games are, helping hone that intangible fun factor that makes the play experience worthwhile.
"When I was growing up, you weren't allowed to be a game developer. The grown-ups in my life didn't understand that that job actually existed," recounts Cassie's dad, Ryan Creighton. "I kind of figured that if there were all these great videogames, someone must be making them and getting paid to do so."
Like a lot of modern game developers, Ryan's early passion for games led him down his current career path, but there was very little support for young people interested in game design. But Ryan continues by saying that these new generations of game developers are entering a world full of games and opportunities to make them. "If we're involving our kids, that means that we can transfer our knowledge to them, and they can improve on what we've done. This is really an industry that only a single generation of people has had a crack at. The promise of future generations getting in on the act gets people fired up!"