Reality Check: Children Play How They Want To, Not How Designers Intend Them To…
One of the most enjoyable parts of our work is seeing creatives and designers be inspired by consumer insight with children.
The vast majority of people involved in the creation of media content and physical products for children don’t regularly test their output with the planned target consumer. When you look at the costs for creating and launching animation, virtual worlds or toy products in this day and age, this seems to be like a gaping chasm of risk that can easily be closed or filled in via commercially minded consumer insight feedback.
In 99% of projects where creatives attend our discussion groups with kids, they come away with vastly enriched understanding about the recipient of their output. Blindingly obvious when you think about it really.
In reality (versus sat in the office presuming!), children engage how they want to engage with your toy product, TV show, virtual world or App. You can point them in a particular direction, but you’ll find they don’t always follow.
An example of this is a recent project where we took children to a playground and observed the way they played.
Notice this extensively designed and engineered apparatus with features and activities integrated in the design:
In reality though, the children spent more time playing on these simple bars (shown below), which had been built for children to tie their bicycles to! We observed children performing all manner of gymnastic activities on these simple bars which were never designed for the purpose of playing.
The point here is that we find even the output of the most amazingly creative, highly talented people can be hugely enhanced by testing with the target consumer, especially when the person creating is an adult, and no longer a child…because children think and act so very differently to adults.
N.B. We have dozens of examples of such disconnect between designers/creatives and kids, but we can’t share client specific research…if you’d like us to investigate the way children interact with your output – in reality – feel free to drop us a line!