Three tips to keep in mind when designing games for primary schoolers

This group of kids are either enjoying their first years in primary school or have just begun their school life. This means that most of them are able to read simple things, and they’re beginning to realise that the world isn’t made up of magic fairies, but instead impacted by logic and reason.


Start to rely on their peers

Whereas toddlers and preschoolers are highly connected to their parents, the primary schoolers start to rely on their peers and value friendship highly. As Maurice Wheeler, Managing Partner of The Little Big Partnership, explains; “they begin to acknowledge who their friends are, and that life is better with friends”. We find this to be an important aspect to keep in mind when designing for the primary schoolers along with the following three take-aways:

"Primary schoolars begin to acknowledge who their friends are, and that life is better with friends.”

Maurice Wheeler, Managing Partner of The Little Big Partnership

The primary schoolers are very focused, and they’re usually seeking to finish one task before moving on to the next. They will keep trying until they have completed the ongoing task. That’s why you should make sure that a system is created in which these kids can level up and experience positive progression in the game.

1) Incorporate positive progression

LEGO© DC Super Heroes Mighty Micros is a great example on how to incorporate progression. The game unlocks new tracks, figures and cars are as you play.

Primary Schoolers enjoy learning new skills

When designing for primary schoolers, another factor to consider is how to implement their wish for accomplishment. These kids love the feeling of achievements and mastering new skills. That’s why it’s important to make these kids feel that they are able to master the tasks and challenges they face.

A way of doing this is by providing them with options and choices, thereby making them feel empowered and in control. Another way of taking this need into account is by making a reward system. Provide the kids with rewards, badges or bonuses and allow them to save, store and share them with their friends and family.

2) Facilitate proud moments

An example of this can be seen in HAMA Universe. Here, the kids can unfold their creativity, be rewarded with new challenges and save and share their accomplishments. Kids love to be creative and make sense of their life through creative output and HAMA Universe allows them to do just that.

Primary Schoolers prefer having control

Another characteristic for the kids in this target group is that they begin to show great interest in rules and how to go about challenges. They like to know what’s expected from them in order to prepare for the tasks and challenges awaiting. These kids want to control what they can control.

That’s why it’s highly recommended that they are provided with a clear vision of what is needed in order to complete the activities in a game. In that way, they can create the best strategies for solving a task. When going about this element, think about showing instead of telling what to do.

3) Show, don’t tell

An example of how this can be done is seen in Toca Boca Hair Salon 2, where active tools are moving slightly to encourage using them.

Sources: “Design for Kids” by Debra Levin Gelman, Maurice Wheeler from The Little Big Partnership, “Cognitive Development in 6-7 Year Olds” by PhD. Michelle Anthony at and our own research and experience.



Published: 04.01.2017

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