I interned at SeaShells Education over the summer to help run their beta testing and redesign efforts for their first game, Reading Racer. Reading Racer is a racing game that uses speech recognition to get kids excited about reading out loud. I wore many different hats while I was there, helping out in both a production and design capacity. As a producer, I helped set up and run our online beta. I automated the beta sign-up process using SurveyMonkey, Zapier, and MailChimp and managed our tester list using Apple's TestFlight. I drafted e-mails to get tester feedback, responded to tech support requests, and monitored our Facebook page.
As a designer, I served as a fresh set of eyes, looking for ways to increase engagement with a game that had a very daunting objective: get kids excited about reading. While I'd never worked on a kids' game before, I dove in, researching everything I could find about getting kids motivated about reading, and playing all the popular children's learning games already out there. I learned a lot, and began formulating suggestions for making the game more exciting and dynamic.
I greatly enjoyed the experience, as it was my first chance to work on a professional game project. I found it very rewarding communicating my designs to our programmers and artist, and by the end of the summer had developed quite the knack for putting together design documents. It was also a very interesting project to work on, as it tought me about education, voice recognition, and making games for children. As it turns out, many of the rules of game design are just as applicable when working with kids, if not more so. Things like theming, having a character to help, and active, engaging feedback are critical in keeping kids interested in your game.
While the game was supposed to ship last fall, issues surrounding the speech recognition delayed the release. However, SeaShells has kept me on part time to help them continue to develop and test it. It's been an educational, rewarding experience, and I'm excited for the game to be released to the public!