This year, as always, Milan has been the Italian capital of video games for three days. This is now a fixed date in the diary for many visitors from Italy and abroad, but for us, it was the first time: we spent three days in the Junior area of Milan Games Week, in the company of some of the best producers of Italian apps for kids. We arrived full of curiosity about a world and public that’s very different to our own, and very keen to understand what inspiration we could draw from the world of gaming ‘for grown ups’.
Friday was the quietest day, which meant that we could divide our time between our stand and the pavilions, and try out, observe and hear about some of the most interesting innovations presented in Milan Games Week 2016. We were impressed by three games in the Aesvi section, which is dedicated to independent developers: we found these the most interesting from the point of view of apps for children – they showed a close eye for design, beauty and complexity.
SIHEYU4N by We Are Müesli impressed us for its refined design, inspired by Chinese art, and also for its unusual approach. It’s a puzzle for four players of all ages, inspired by the architectural tradition of the ‘siheyuan’, the traditional courtyards of Beijing around which the lives of the surrounding houses revolve. Cooperation and sociability are the basis for the game: each player oversees one area of the game, and only through talking to the others, collaborating and sharing a strategy can they conclude the challenge.
The Way of life, on the other hand, was conceived during the Globe Game Jam of 2014, and is inspired by the theme of the ‘hackathon’: “We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are”. Thus the concept was born: to take the players’ experiences, and relive them from the point of view of a child, adult and old person. We liked the idea that through a playful interaction, the game could touch on challenging themes such as death and love, illustrated through empathy and putting ourselves in the shoes of others.
Lastly, we enjoyed Quadri e Ladri by Stupidi Pixel, due to our long relationship with museums and works of art. In it, you play the role of a museum curator who has to attract new visitors (the famous ‘audience engagement’ that’s discussed so often!), so as to increase revenue and invest in new galleries and works of art. But as popularity grows, so criminal interest also increases.
Saturday was a frenetic day, entirely dedicated to children, who filled the schedule from start to finish. We saw how they interacted with apps; we gathered ideas and opinions about all aspects of the games, including how they’re played and navigated to the fact thatArt Stories Faces doesn’t feature the Mona Lisa (for the time being) – and that on Mubapp’s French table they eat smelly cheese!
Last but not least, on Sunday we were able to talk to colleagues and companies in the Junior area about common themes, such as distribution and how to balance the dynamics of play and educational objectives. There’s a great passion for everything related to the ethics of the product within the kids’ market, as well as much ongoing research. We take this opportunity also to thank: firstly Mash&Co, who enabled us to take part in this experience, and also, Big Bang Pixel, MagisterApp, Giulia Olivares and LiloTito. We leave you with a small gallery of pictures of our three days at the fair.