Digital Kids Today made the industry come to Filmby Aarhus
It must be fun! Digital visual solutions for kids are in rapid growth, and this was the topic of the conference Digital Kids Today, which was held in Filmby Aarhus, Thursday April 12. The conference had more than 100 attendees with backgrounds in game design, animation, public service as well as research and education institutions and institutes focusing on digital activities for kids.
“Even kids between 3-6 years old is slowly moving away from traditional flow-tv. Until now, they have been dedicated to the square tv in the living room until now. That’s not the case anymore.” Johanne Bagge, chief of B&U, Danish Broadcasting Corporation, said.
She was amongst the international and Danish speakers, who spoke about the digital development within games, gaming and public service for kids.
“90 % of the very young children have access to a tablet – not the newest version, but the ones that have been passed along from parents and older siblings. This mean that we always ensure that our content can be displayed on the older tablets,” Johanne Bagge said, during her speak at the conference Digital Kids Today in Filmby Aarhus.
The attendees represented the whole industry. There were producers, researches, designers, managers and a few students. Common to all was a deep interest in what and how to engage children with digital platforms.
“We use gaming mechanisms, but it is always with focus on our core values.” Johanne Bagge said.
Believe in the best
The Danish Broadcasting Corporation takes children seriously, and the Swedish company Toca Boca showed that private businesses do as well. Toca Boca is a strong player in games for children. In Sweden, Toca Boca experiences great support and acknowledgement in an otherwise difficult industry. This was amongst what Petter Karlsson, who is a play designer at Toca Buca, told us about at his speak. He especially highlighted one of their values, which is an important line of conduct, every day at the office.
“Always expect that people have good intentions,” Petter Karlsson said.
He described how Toca Boca has a high ambition level for diversity. Everybody should be able to play a game and interact with products from Toca Boca, without feeling excluded and regardless of background. But where is the limit? When have you done enough, one of the participants wanted to know. Petter Karlsson walked back and forth before answering:
“You can’t do too much. But we are only working with diversity in the areas we know about. We also make mistakes, and when that happens, you can’t do anything but apologize. If it is with good intentions, it’s okay to fail.”
And that can be difficult. Children are as diverse as the whole world’s population – and at the same time they are special because of their physical and mental growth can be on completely different stages. At Toca Boca, all new products are tested on children before launch, the Swedish game designer told the crowd. Children’s rights in gaming are changing. Until now, the multinational social media have gotten away with saying their products are not for children – even though they have millions of users amongst children, it has no consequences.
Data security – GDPR+K is coming
May 25, the personal data legislation is changing to such an extent that no gaming producer can ignore it. For producers, and the industry for that matter, it is a restriction that has been allowed, until now. For some, it can seem unfair, but that is not how the British firm, SuperAwesome, thinks of it. They are specialized in games and entertainment, which complies with standards for good digital content for children.
“The new EU-legislation is an opportunity – not a threat,” Joshua Wöhle, Chief Technology Officer and co-founder of SuperAwesome, said.
The entire ethical element is very important for SuperAwesome. Children shouldn’t be manipulated and it should be a principle that data shouldn’t be collected about children in user profiles or the like. Joshua Wöhle explains, together with his colleague Paul Nunn who is Chief Strategy Officer, that if game producers lack access to storing data about their users (ie. The children), the game won’t become either fun or catchy, and the children will play games that are not at all designed for their age group.
The two speakers point to the parents as being the key. It is possible to develop games that comply with the legislation, while at the same time capturing the interest of the children.
“When a brand takes data seriously, it will raise the parents’ will to buy – almost double as much – and many seem to forget this. As parents, it is absolutely crucial that there is confidence in the brand they interact with on behalf of their children,” Paul Nunn said.
Digital Kids Today was held for the second year in a row, and Funday Factory and Interactive Denmark Vest are already excited to arrange the conference again next year. Kirsten Langgaard, project manager of Interactive Denmark Vest and Cross Motion, is one of the key figure in the planning of the yearly conferences.
“It was a pleasure to see the huge interest and engagement from both attendees and speakers. We are thrilled about the results of today, and we have gotten a lot of valuable feedback, which we will use in the planning of the next year’s Digital Kids Today,” Kirsten Langgaard said.