Build your own bizzare family portrait with the game Sjit Show
Sjit Show is a straight-up-family-building-tool. Based on a wide-ranging and varied character gallery, you can create a unique portrait of your family. Doing so, we help children add words to how they feel about each of their family members but also how the child experiences other family members’ relationships. After building the family portrait, two different responses can be triggered: Either a very humorous and surprising feedback appears - or a clear piece of advice is offered from the child welfare.
Sjit Show is a HTML game that invites children to design their family as a way of expressing their feelings and relationships with different family members.
The game is developed in cooperation with the Danish NGO, Børns Vilkår (Children’s Rights), to support their hotline Børnetelefonen (The Children’s Phone) - a free and anonymous service where children can find help, guidance or simply someone to confide in. Sjit Show targets boys in the age 9 - 13 which is the group that Børns Vilkår find most difficult to reach through the hotline.
Play the game Sjit Show
Reaching vulnerable teenagers
The free and open hotline has offered help and advice to boys and girls since 1987, but studies have shown that the number of boys using the hotline is remarkably low compared to girls.
"We’ve found that children of divorced parents - especially boys in the age of 9-13 - find it very difficult to express themselves. The thought of picking up the phone and having a stranger listening to their worries is too intimidating for them. We needed a different approach in order to reach the boys and make them feel safe and help them reach out”Charlotte Smerup, Børns Vilkår
Developing a game for vulnerable tweens and teenage boys is a difficult task, because they are not exactly open about their feelings, needs and vulnerability. Through workshops, interviews and observations, we found that boys feel comfortable expressing their feelings and relationships through the use of humoristic images and symbols. That’s why the use of symbolism became crucial to the game experience.
Sjit Show’s game play
The gameplay uses humour to help the child address different and difficult feelings. The play is open ended and centers around the development of a family, including individual family members and the child itself. Using a wide range of separate elements for heads, bellies and legs, the child can develop a visual expression of the emotions felt towards a specific family member. And given the fact that it’s only close to half of all Danish families that are nuclear families with mom, dad and kids, Sjit Show allows you to build any possible family. So you can create your half-sister, bonus mom, big brother or any other family relation - even your pet can be added as research shows the importance of pets as part of the family.
When developing the family portrait, the child is also requested to reflect upon and describe the relationship with every individual using one of many predefined statements - like “yells at”, “misunderstands”, “loves”, “would do anything for”, etc. In that way, the child can express exactly how he or she feels the relationship is with their mom, step dad, bonus sibling etc.
And when step dad has a lemon as his head because he’s bitter as a lemon, has a big fat belly and squid arms for legs, it becomes much more fun to play with - and creates a safe room where the child can express any feeling that might otherwise be neglected or suppressed.
“Today’s families come in many shapes and sizes, and as a child, you have no control of the composition of your family. The Sjit Show offers the child a space where it is okay to express the often unsaid feelings a child may have towards a step mom or dad etc., without being held responsible for the words or actions.”Charlotte Smerup, Børns Vilkår
Why call it Sjit Show?
Bottom line - because it’s fun, wacky and at eye level with the target group. The whole idea behind the game was to lower any entry barrier and create an instant positive first impression that would make kids (especially boys) think it is worth giving a shot.
The name Sjit Show emerged from a desire to find a name which was both catchy and meaningful. With Sjit Show we believe to have found an eloquent and symbolic name, because being a member of a family with problems can truly feel like being part of a shitty show. However, to make the name less rude we exchanged the h with a j which further adds fun and humour to the name.Troels Overgaard, Producer at Funday Factory
Develop a game that acts as a self-help tool primarily for boys who come from divorced families and which aims to let boys reflect on their family relations. The game should be humorous and entertaining at the same time.
According to Børns Vilkår’s statistics, BørneTelefonen is not cool enough for boys - there is only 30% of boys who contacted/used BørneTelefonen in 2017. In the light of the interviews and workshops with Børns Vilkår, our team kick-started the development with a creative co-creation session with 4 focus groups of boys from the age of 11 to 18. The session contained interviews with the focus groups and a play test with a digital playable prototype.
Sjit Show is a html game that allows boys (and girls) to create their own family portrait and express their feelings towards their mom, bonus dad or step sibling. The look and feel is highly based on a sense of humour that matches the target group who find corky and weird things very entertaining. Through the use of humour, Sjit Show creates a safe space for children in which they can get an outlet for otherwise suppressed or neglected feelings that can be hard to talk about.