Kids test new games, toys at SF museum

December 29, 2011 7:16:27 PM PST
In the heart of innovation country, kids are now getting a chance to help shape high-tech games and toys before they go on sale.

"I've got children that love computers and they love experimenting," said Jody Kramer.

When Kramer brought her three kids to the new innovation lab at San Francisco's Children's Creativity Museum, it was like Christmas all over again. Game developers and toy makers are lining up to see what kids think of their latest creations.

"What we often see is developers who are doing testing with their niece, with their nephew, with the two kids down the street," said Ben Grossman-Kahn, who pitched his game to kids at the museum. "What they're missing is getting feedback from 50 kids or 100 kids."

That's what the developers get from going to the innovation lab.

The lab has only been around 2.5 months, but in that time, it's become the place for educational game and toy makers to come try out their ideas.

"Kids are brutally honest," said Sifteo co-founder David Merrill, "so if something's boring, they stop playing it immediately, or they'll push it aside and want to do something else."

Or, they could start playing it in a whole new way: Merrill never imagine his new puzzle game would be for multiple players.

"We imagined one person sitting down and puzzling over it," said Merrill. "But when you get two or three kids playing it, each one will take a cube and they'll start playing collaboratively."

It's not hard to get the kids experimenting -- after all, curiosity is why they came to the museum.

"It's very fun to explore and try new things," said one child.

"I'm playing, like, basically all the games on the iPads," said another.

"The kids are coming here to play with stuff and explore creativity," said Ahmed Siddiqui. "It gives me a good opportunity to even talk with the parents too."

Parents say they're happy kids can see what goes into making the toys and the games they love.

"Look at where they live, in Silicon Valley," said Kramer. "They should be a part of the process."

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