Find An Animal:
My games is a children’s game aimed at preschoolers. It is a visual learning game that teaches players about native Australian animals. This game has been created physically and has been play-tested at my local pre-school.
My game (The game) consists of 4 x baseboards (A3 size) with all the ‘hidden animals’. There is also a deck of cards with matching cut-outs from the baseboard. The deck consists of 5 versions of the same card so it easier for my target market 3-5-year-old pre-schoolers. The cards have a fact on them so the player can identify where it fits on the baseboard easier.
Figure 1. Baseboard Figure 2. Game Cards
The Game Development:
As you can see from my initial game pitch I have not changed the idea much. I have stuck with the same key mechanics and followed my production timeline week by week. My rough game draft from the pitch has developed into a design I am very pleased with.
My initial game sketches were very rough. To give an idea of what I wanted to achieve. I am happy with the final image I created.
Game theme, narrative and story world:
The core game theme is an educational children’s game. It then fits into an animal theme. The animal theme is very specific in this version of find an animal, it focuses on native Australian animals. This theme fits in with the pre-school curriculum and the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) outcome 2 Children are connected with and contribute to their world. “Find an Animal, helps the children build an understanding of our Indigenous animals and birds.” Susan Hill-Thomson Early Educator at Mittagong preschool.
The narrative through this game takes the players on a journey through a scene of Australia’s landscape where they have to spot native animals that are hiding in the scene. The story world that this game is portraying is the Australian bush. The players are put into a rocky bushland that mimics Australia’s landscapes. Within the game, there are numerous hidden animals in different spots on the baseboard. For instance, a koala is in a tree and a crocodile is near a billabong. This has been inspired by other Australian themed games such as “Aussie Scrabble” . (full stop)
Central game concepts and mechanics:
The mechanics of my game are:
Turn-based: This helps to teach children to take their turn and be patient and respect other players.
Ludic: The idea that you don’t know who has with cards on their baseboard makes the experience interesting because you don’t know who will win.
Pieces of a map: The baseboard is not completed until all the game cards have been placed on it.
Puzzle: Players are essentially completing a map by whilst playing the game.
The game Rules:
1: Each player gets a baseboard.
2: All game cards are shuffled and placed face down in a deck in the middle between all players.
1: One player starts the game by picking up a card and matching it to their baseboard.
2: The next player repeats this step.
3: This repetition of picking up cards and trying to fill the game sheet happens until someone has filled their sheet or there aren’t any cards in the deck. If you run out of cards and don’t have a winner the person with the most cards wins.
1: The game cards can be used to play other games such as memory and snap.
- Mix up the cards.
- Lay them in rows, face down.
- Turn over any two cards.
- If the two cards match, keep them.
- If they don’t match, turn them back over.
- Remember what was on each card and where it was.
- Watch and remember during the other player’s turn.
- The game is over when all the cards have been matched.
- The player with the most matches wins.
- Choose a dealer
- Shuffle the cards
- Pass equal amounts of cards to each player
- Gameplay begins starting with the player left of the dealer and proceeding clockwise
- On their turn, players will flip up the top card in their pile and build up a new pile face up in front of them
- If two top cards in any flipped-up pile form a pair, any player may shout “Snap!” and receive the cards in both piles
- If the top card from the Snap Pot pairs with any of the players’ top cards, someone may shout Snap! and receive all of the cards in the middle.
- The player who wins all of the cards wins.
How to make this product available:
This game could easily work as a print and play as there are no components apart from paper. This would be an easy way to distribute the game. If I were to sell his game already printed it would come in the price range around $40-$50. Other children’s educational games such as My First Carcassonne ($63), What’s The Time Mr Wolf? ($36) , Alphabet Lotto Game ($39.95) .
When I printed my game I got it printed on very thick paper (250gsm) the preschool then laminated it so they could keep it sanitised. Lamination may now be a requirement for pre-school games in the future.
I would love to take this game to Haba. Haba is a market leader in children’s educational games.
Expansions of this game:
To make this game available to my target market preschools, I would expand my baseboards to be reversible and have to games on one sheet of paper. I could also offer new themed versions such as along the seashore, under the ocean, in the sky and so on.
Feedback from play testing and reflection on iteration following play-testing:
This game hits 3 key points on the Early Years Learning Framework (Sumsion and Wong, 2011). This framework is the method early educators use to register the children’s learning.
Feedback from this play-testing experience is from Susan Hill-Thomson who is an Educator at Mittagong Preschool. Susan Hill-Thomson has been working in this field for over 20years.
“Find An Animal is a fun game that instantly engaged the children. The baseboards are a good size, the style of pictures/drawings appealed to the children. It was easy to play, children taking turns to find the hidden animals.
“A large number of matching cards makes the game adaptable and able to be used in other ways including memory and snap. It’s a huge hit with the kids!”
When designing Find An Animal I didn’t think that this could be adapted into games such as memory and snap. I think this great that they picked up on this. The game Find An Animal is now a 3 in one which is great for consumers.
“Find an Animal, meets EYLF outcome 2 Children are connected with and contribute to their world. Find an Animal, helps the children build an understanding of our indigenous animals and birds. They are able to learn from the cards information about the characteristics and habitats. Helping them gain a sense of belonging to this land. A game such as this helps educators to foster a sense of appreciation and care for our Indigenous animals and can lead to further discussions about care for the environment and our need to live sustainably”.
When I set out to create this came I wanted it to fit in the class of ‘an educational game’ I am very pleased that educators deem this to fit the bill.
“EYLF outcome 4 Children are confident and involved learners. This game is engaging by its presentation it’s colourful and draws children’s interest. Through this game, children experience the benefits and pleasures of shared learning exploration. There are opportunities for the children to share their knowledge about indigenous wildlife. The children are gaining an understanding of how learning can be adapted and seen in a variety of forms, for example, stylised forms such as in Find an Animal, to the real wildlife animal or bird. Helping children make the connections between real and abstract presentations.”
I am pleased to know that the theme and style of this game is aesthetically pleasing to children and is practical to learning experiences.
“The information on the cards helps with developing children’s language development as in EYLF Outcome 5 Children are effective communicators. Find an Animal, game helps children gain an understanding of texts and how they convey meaning or information. Helps with letter and word recognition and pre-reading skills.”
My main iterations from this feedback is to expand this game. I want to include more facts on the game cards, but not take away from the map building aesthetics. I will be making more versions of the game that will have new landscapes. I will sell this product as a 3 pack of the game.
Feedback from one of my classmates Georgie suggested adding sensory features. You can see her comments here. Other possible iterations after receiving this feedback is adding ‘3d’ touch elements onto the game board. This could be some fluffy material for the kangaroos, or some spikes for the echidna.
Susan Hill Thomson said “the kids thoroughly enjoyed the game and wanted to play with it after it was introduced through structured classes. Gameplay from start to finish took roughly 15 minutes.”
I think the process of creating this game has been successful. The play-testing definitely helped me iterate and change where I plan to take this game. I am excited about the possibilities of this game and where it may take me in the future.
Sumsion, J. and Wong, S., 2011. Interrogating ‘Belonging’ in Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 12(1), pp.28-45.