Admongo: an educational game about advertising

I’m looking forward to an upcoming Games Gateway Meetup at the Spy Museum in downtown Washington. The objective of this group is for game designers and developers to get together to brainstorm and share resources. Each time, I’ve gone it’s been very high energy.  Today I started looking over notes from previous meetups. One of the most interesting recent meetups was a talk given by the team that produced the educational game, Admongo.  The speakers from the design and production team were Lisa Miller and William R. McHenry of Fleishman Hillard and Jennifer Leech of the Federal Trade Commission.  My takeaway from this particular meeting was the creative and innovative manner in which the design team involved kids as “co-creators” in the  project.

This project was the model of a collaborative production from the beginning. The design objective of Admongo was to develop a game geared toward elementary school students  (tweens age 8 to 12) that would teach them through game play how to think critically about the advertising that surrounds them on a daily basis.

Some of the questions the team asked were:

  • What do Kids see?
  • What do they understand?
  • What should they be doing?

Other questions were:

  • What is the objective?
  • What are they seeking?
  • What are they finding?

A guide in the game challenges them to reach the top of an imaginative structure with the question:

  • Do you have what it takes?

Kids are provided a feeling of empowerment as they proceed to the next level of the game.

Some of the game elements that kids provided feedback on included:

  • The name “Admongo”
  • The absolute necessity of an adversary in the game.
  • The design of the structure where they needed to reach the top.

One of the speakers also talked about how important it was from a production team perspective to have a truly integrated process. The production on the project took about a year and half and the team from both Fleishman Hillard and the Federal Trade Commission stayed with the project the whole time.  That consistency helped create a more cohesive process.

This Meetup was a great discussion about design, collaboration, and true dedication  to the outcome of a creative educational product. I’m looking forward to future events.