Making games for kids, part 1: What questions do you want answered?

I'm headed to Game Developers Conference and am attempting another experiment that will create an archive of information on developing great games for kids. What questions do you want answered?
March 17, 2014

Dr. Carla Fisher is a game designer and digital strategist with fingerprints on more than 300 games for kids and families. She continues her musings outside this blog via a free weekly newsletter (sign up here) that curates articles, videos, and games that catch her eye. She can be reached at or @NoCrusts.

This is part 1 of 2. This week I’m collecting info and spreading the word on the document. Next week I’ll share the results.

I’m at Game Developers Conference this week, running three roundtables on children’s games (Wednesday, March 19, at 5pm Pacific; Thursday, March 20, at 4pm Pacific; and Friday, March 21, at 11:30am Pacific).

If you’d like to read the notes from the sessions, or better yet, participate in creating questions and notes for the sessions, please use this Google Doc that can be edited by everyone.

Why a public Google Doc?

Last year, the rooms filled at 75-100 people and many more were turned away! What followed was lively discussion amongst veteran developers as well as new faces.

The roundtables were so popular that they were rated in the top 50 talks at the 2013 Game Developers Conference.

But all three conversations are only archived in our memories or personal notes. Never mind the people who were turned away never benefitted from an ounce of information.

I don’t know what attendance will be this year, but my goal is to capture as much of the discussion as I possibly can, for attendees as well as the community at large. While moderating 75 people, I don’t have bandwidth to take notes.

But the attendees do! And what if they do it collaboratively into one single document that’s available to everyone?

Enter Google Docs Experiment Part Deux.

A few months ago I ran an experiment where I made a list of great children’s games in a Google doc and then made it available to everyone to edit. Anyone.

The experiment was so-so. Developers were excited about it and I found a number of new games because of it. But the value proposition was wrong. Developers didn’t necessarily gain new exposure because the list was so big. It also turned a little spammy since anyone could post whatever game they wanted.

But there was also extreme enthusiasm for the idea of collaborating on a document. When faced with how to archive the roundtables at GDC, I realized that I could ask our attendees to help out. Even the community at large can participate, too. Once we start this discussion, there’s no reason that it has to be limited to that moment in time.

So I’ve created a Google Doc that everyone can edit. If you’re attending GDC or if you’d like to simply see the notes, the document is online at

The document has the following sections

  • Overview. A quick explanation of what and why the document exists. It also includes session information.
  • Question/Topic Suggestions. If you have questions that you’d like to see discussed, please add feel free to add it to this section. I’ll review this before the sessions.
  • Notes. Each of the three discussions has an area for notes.
  • Notes from other sessions. On the off chance someone goes to something that they think is really relevant and want to share their notes!
  • Promotion. If you’d like to promote a product, service, or conference, or if you are looking for a particular resource, please post it here.

What could go wrong?

Many things could go wrong because I did not set rules for participating. To name a few things I fear:

  • Someone could delete the entire thing (that happened before).
  • Someone could report it as a violation of Googles Terms of Service causing the document to go offline (also happened before – we were cleared that it was not a violation and reinstated).
  • Someone could use it for their own nefarious purposes to promote their product (sort of happened).
  • The document could become so popular that the number of people who can edit it is limited (hasn’t happened to me but has happened to other people).
  • Someone could make bad font choices (also happened – I overruled that edit)


But hey, it’s the Internet. Why not try?

Hope to see you at GDC or in the doc. If you want a reminder to view the document after the roundtables, the easiest is to sign up for our free No Crusts newsletter. One email a week at most and I do my best to make it useful. You can unsubscribe anytime and won’t hurt my feelings.

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