I’m building a game for my kids that I don’t want them to play that much

I made two techie resolutions at the start of the year at the XCake iOS meetup I occasionally manage to go to. First was to “show 50 people how to build their first app”. I mostly achieved that earlier this year, giving an app development course to business and marketing students in DIT Aungier St.

The second resolution was to “Finally finish the game for my kids”. So I’ve started work again on a game for the little headwreckers – a simple game to help them learn Irish, English or pretty much any other language.

I’m developing it natively for iOS and Android and am spending a lot of time thinking about the best UX, how to make it simple but content rich, quick, educational but still fun and generally just not look or feel like crap.

The thing is though – I don’t actually want my kids to play it that much.

Why? To be honest, I’d rather they were playing Lego, or drawing pictures, or running around the house pretending to be princesses or fighter pilots. Or Princess Fighter-Pilots, knowing my girls.

One of my kids rocking the Rey attitude

Why build it at all then? My job and passion is technology and innovation; I realise the importance of my kids learning about technology and how it will help them. I also know how useful digital tools can be for education. In moderation however— and that’s the key. Just as I don’t want them staring at the TV all day long, I don’t want them glued to a little rectangular smartphone for ages either. It’s clear that a lot of adults spend way too much time on their phones, we need to make sure our kids don’t perceive that as the norm, or the best way to go through life.

They won’t be at a disadvantage if their “screen time” is limited — as they get older they can use technology more, hopefully learn to code better than their father, come up with their own innovations. For now though I’d like them to be coming up with their own real life games and stories, of make believing with any old boxes, sticks or toys they come across and of reaching that exhausted-but-happy stage that comes from a good day’s adventuring.

So I’ll let them use my undoubtably awesome game once it’s built, probably watch them beat any top score I can get, then after a short while ask them to put it away and go play instead. Maybe outside on their bikes or scooters or maybe as Princess Jedi Fighter Pilots with their arch-nemesis Galactic Emperor Daddy.

Any thoughts let me know!

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