Speaking to Develop for an in-depth feature on Channel 4’s focus on high-quality educational games, staff at the broadcaster have suggested that independent developers may offer a better service to those commissioning games content for their audience.
“I think that indies do deliver a superior understanding of what makes for a better educational game," revealed Channel 4 Education’s commissioning editor Alice Taylor. "In saying that perhaps I’m going to upset those in the educational serious games area."
“What a lot of people don’t appreciate is that these bedroom developers often have a really loyal following, which is very unlike what any agency has, generally speaking," added Jody Smith, who serves as editor of the website accompaniment to E4.
“Fans are talking about them already, so when we actually launch their games, they’re going to be bringing in an audience, and an audience that probably don’t watch E4.," continued Smith. "Their reputation is really good, and they bring with them respect. That’s the reason sites like Kongregate and Newgrounds have such great followings.”
Taylor, who is at the forefront of Channel 4’s drive to harness idiosyncratic, entertaining web games for educational purposes, also had much to say on the merits of good educational games, and the design of titles that successfully juggle entertainment, innovation and learning.
“I’m generalising massively, but I think if you start off with the learning, and try and apply a game to it, it sometimes works, but in many cases it just doesn’t," said Taylor. "But a game has to be fun – it has to be magic. You can put learning into a game, but it’s very hard to put a game into learning."
Click here to read our full Channel 4 feature, which looks at how Channel 4 is pioneering a new approach to the design of educational gaming, and the way the media network is working with UK indies to better deliver on its responsibility as a resource for learning.