Thank you to Guy with shidonni.com for sharing this article with us!
(Used with permission)
Based on a white paper on the empowerment of children’s creativity by using virtual worlds and games. By Guy Bendov
The internet is abundant with educational activities as well as games for Children of all ages. Is it possible that by playing games, children's creativity and imagination are still fostered? Do they assist in nurturing the essential building blocks of self-confidence and innovation as kids grow? Can children really engage with educational software? Most importantly, can fun and engaging games contribute to a child’s mental and creative growth?
We believe the answer to all these questions is YES. New interactive games and virtual worlds are offering participants superior, empowering engagement that drive players in a way that was never done before; players can create their own environments and experiment with their own rules and interpretations. New online virtual worlds in particular, focus on providing tools rather than pre-set items and pre-determined story lines, to encourage a child’s creativity.
History and Current Status - Games and Virtual Worlds
Interactive games have been and still are a favorite pass time for Children and grown ups. 97% of American kids play videogames and half of women and 55 per cent of men play computer games, with one in five (21%) playing every day (PewResearch). Many web sites game aggregate and offer free casual games. The big sites include addictinggames.com, Miniclip.com and games.yahoo.com. Some sites such as Primarygames.com focus solely on educational games. Games are also one of the most used types of applications in social networks such as Facebook and MySpace.
User of all ages and particularly children, find the new web-based virtual worlds a place they are happy to return to. Virtual worlds like Club Penguin, Whyville, Gaia and games like Webkinz, offer children a fun and safe place to play with a personal representation (avatar), a virtual house and the chance to play in a social "get together" space.
New Games Focus on Engaging Creativity
In the last few years several game developers started to change and re-evaluate their paradigms in game design. This followed market demand as well as the understanding that games need to bring additional values to players, especially to children.
Game developers started to focus on engaging users' creativity and move away from an over commercial game-play. During 2008, games like LittleBigPlanet, Spore, World of Goo , Roblox and Crayon Physics offered gamers of all ages to be part of the creative process of the game itself. These games are based on experimenting with the game and exploring it, more similar to toys than games.
These games proved to be fun and captured the hearts and minds of children and grown ups and are being applauded as "game changing" interactive entertainment.
Shidonni - A study case for a virtual world supporting children imagination and creativity
Shidonni is a virtual world based on children’s creativity.
Similar to the games mentioned above, it focuses on providing tools for kids rather than preset templates. It is is based on the experience of drawing, which is one of the greatest pastimes for young children as well as a natural mode of expression for boys and girls (Koppitz).
Shidonni provides the simple joy of drawing characters and animals, with a 21st century twist - after drawing their virtual pets, children play with them as they magically 'come alive'. Children then care for, feed and play games that incorporate their drawings as main characters. Children can then share their creations with friends and family online to show off their creativity, and participate in multi-user games.
The core experience of Shidonni is based on imaginative creation. Shidonni goes beyond the typical interactive pet game concept, empowering kids to draw their imaginary pets and worlds, and play with them in a safe, fun environment. A key benefit of the Shidonni world is the promotion of 21st century computer literacy skills as well as early childhood coordination and creative development.
Shidonni is an example of a unique game that supports cognitive development and what is considered as "right-brain creative thinking" through drawing and animation. The right hemisphere is associated with creativity and imaginative thinking. It is more visual and processes intuitively and holistically. The ultimate creation freedom in Shidonni, supports a right hemisphere activity and focus on the creativity and imaginations centers in a more prominent way than many games available today.
Young children naturally exhibit remarkably high levels of creativity, which decline as they grow up. Many have suggested that "the process of schooling, with its’ focus on the acquisition of knowledge and correct (rather than imaginative) answers, promotes the decline" (James C. Kaufman and John Baer; "Creativity and Reason in Cognitive Development").
Shidonni brings back the focus to the natural creativity of children. There are no correct answers and no correct way to draw your pets and worlds – only freedom to achieve.
Very young children (aged 4 and 5) and even children with special needs can build up their confidence through positive reinforcement, simply by the fact that there are no right or wrong ways to do things. It doesn't matter if it's a meaningless scribble or a brilliantly drawn character; The feeling of creating a leaving creature is incredibly satisfying.
New games built upon new paradigms support essential learning values such as creativity, imagination, and innovation like never before. By using enhanced computers and game consoles, as well as broadband internet penetration, game designers and players will be able to interact in more exciting and challenging ways. The innovation of virtual worlds will provide tools and special effects to players, allowing them to build the world and environments they want, unique and personalized to them. Players will be able to move away from the current standard of pre-set templates and options found in so many of today’s online products, towards new user experiences, such as Shidonni, where the product interaction and game opportunities are created using imaginative creativity, essential to children and adults alike.