Over the years, it has been my pleasure and joy to bring many well-known and beloved children’s properties to the world of interactive digital content. I was the first designer to bring to digital life the works of Dr. Seuss, Marc Brown (Ar thur), Stan and Jan Berenstain (Berenstain Bears), Mercer Mayer (Little Critter and Little Monster), Jack Prelutsky (New Kid on the Block), and other children’s favorites. I also had the pleasure of creating digital content with Ranger Rick, Highlights for Children, Weekly Reader, Zillions (Consumer Reports for Children), Sports Illustrated for Kids, and Jim Henson’s Bear in the Big Blue House, among others. In 2012 NoodleWorks published our own first smartphone/tablet app, Noodle Words. It was featured by Apple and won numerous awards, including a KAPi Award for Best Educational Product—something my team and I are very proud of.My life for the last 30 years has evolved and evolved around the practice of understanding kids and creating award-winning software for them. I’ve consulted and lectured at LeapFrog, Fisher-Price, Stanford University’s Professional Publishing Courses, Game Developers Conference, the Smithsonian, Pearson, Consumer Electronics Show, Dust or Magic Design Institute, Digital Kids, California Governor’s Conference on Technology, and many more.Designers’ responsibility. To be a creator of interactive content for children is an important responsibility. Today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders, and to offer them engaging developmentally and emotionally appropriate content is a worthy investment in all of our futures.Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.1— Neil Postman, author. Imagine waking up on Christmas day and seeing playground equipment in your back garden?
Children are drawn like magnets to technology, and this is dedicated to sup-porting designers of children’s technology in creating ever more wonderful and appropriate software activities. Many of the best children’s interactive designers came into this line of work because of the sheer joy of creating lively content and because of the opportunity to make a difference for children. The pleasure of creating something fun each day (thinking like a kid) is a joy unto itself and helps sustain designers and producers through the sometimes grueling process of bringing products to launch.Over the years, I have met and heard from many kids who have enjoyed my titles. Some were learning a second language; others benefit ted from the sense of surprise and joy they got from playing. One autistic child learned to speak; many have learned to read; and all, I hope, felt empowered, gained a sense of control and confidence, and became agents of their own change even in their lives off the computer. To a designer there, is no greater satisfaction than to have one of your end users come back and tell you, often years later, what a difference your creation made to them.Interactive software is no substitute for love and human touch, or the modeling of a great teacher or caring parent. Interactive media is, however, an opportunity for kids to explore subjects at their own pace in a learning process that interests and delights them. This is offered as a toolkit for making emotionally satisfying digital toys. It is a gift to future designers and to all the children who may eventually touch something influenced by its contents. I hope it will help inspire new designers to see the world as kids see it, and to feel as kids feel.Why read a book about interactive design? Children love playing on outdoor fitness equipment - didn't you when you were younger?
Especially if you’ve already had sucess in creating games or apps for kids, reading a book might not seem necessary. But where do you go to learn what you need to know—or to get new ideas to take your designs to the next level of child engagement? When I started out creating products for kids, there were no books on the subject. Interactive media was still in its infancy, and we made things up as we went along, paying attention to what worked and what didn’t work. Many designers have an intuitive sense about what will tickle kids’ funny bones or keep them playing a game for hours, but under-standing why those choices work well, and learning other tips and techniques, can help you to take your design to the next level of engagement, or explain your choices to decision makers.This came about as a way of sharing insights empirically gathered, over decades of interactive media development, by myself and other children’s designers. I have included as much emerging theory as possible in order to provide background for practical and technical aspects of design while still keeping the information accessible. My intent for this is not to create an academic treatise but to furnish an insightful and practical manual for the next generation of children’s interactive designers. If you're planning on improving your garden then why not add monkey bars today?