LEAP recently opened up the Airspace App store for developers to try out and give feedback on. Part of the deal was that all apps were made free for developers to try out. As you can expect, I went all out and downloaded everything I could to test out with my students at Jackson School and examine what games could have educational or experiential benefits for them.
So what are the results so far? What did the kids think of the games currently available?
- Boom Ball
- Sugar Rush
- Caterpillar Count
- Clay Jam
- Fingertapps Piano
- Wooden Sensei
- Chordion Conductor
I had downloaded other games but these were the ones I had selected based upon their ease of accessibility and quality of control response. If there are any developers reading this who don't see their game on here, I would be happy to provide you with some feedback on how your app can be improved in regards to kids and education.
As a general note, I would like to provide some simple feedback for developers out there, particularly those who create or plan to create apps for kids.
- Be mindful of kid's limited or basic fine-motor control. Many kids, particularly in special education settings, find it hard to continue holding a pointed index finger with a tightly closed fist.
- Children's fingers are shorter than adults and that creates a problem with tracking in certain apps because the distance from the tip of a finger to the knuckle is not proportional. This means that the LEAP controller can often struggle with tracking their finger and consequently, mis-track.
- Consider integrating peripheral devices as part of the gaming experience. I found that a pen was a good way to overcome the issue of kids being able to close their hand for long periods of time and it was particularly fun for games like Airbeats
- Make the menus simple and quick, and have buttons towards the centre of the screen. Kids are eager and excitable but as soon as it becomes a tedious task to start the game or select a button to move to the next level, they become frustrated and disengaged. Also, menus where hovering your hand over a button to select it is generally more responsive than using a gesture to select.
- Make the progression of difficulty steady. Some games get too fast or too hard way too early on e.g. Hungry Monster. The concept can be great and exciting but a balance of difficulty is important.
This app struck my curiosity as soon as I found out that it was in existence. It is a visually impressive app that calms and intrigues the senses in a very positive way. The absence of menus make it highly accessible for all types of users and the adaptive experience coupled with peaceful piano music makes it a wonderfully relaxing app. Many of my students commented about how they felt 'relaxed' whilst playing it and it 85% of classes that I tested it with responded positively as a whole class.
This is definitely a favourite. It's engaging, easy to get used to, tracks accurately, and has a great progression of difficulty. My students found it easy to work with the menus in the game and it was one where the whole class demonstrated a team approach to playing.
This is possibly the general favourite for my students of all age groups. Much like Boom Ball, the menus are simple and are generally easy to work with (buttons in lower corners can be tricky) and it's an easy game to have a sense of achievement with. Every class responded well to this one and it's definitely a good app for getting kids familiar with using the LEAP. The fact that it doesn't require kids to point their finger also helps.
This one already held a fair bit of sway with students simply because it's a popular part of the movie, Wreck-it Ralph. Visually, this is quite a stunning game and kids were immediately drawn to it. The controls can be a bit hit and miss. Some students found it easy to keep their hands in the right configuration and others got a bit too expressive and consequently struggled to control their vehicle, which led to some frustrated gamers. There's little to no educational value here.
A wonderful concept that could benefit greatly from improved control response and calibration. Younger students found Airbeats to be quite engaging and fun to experience. Making noise is generally a great time for young kids. That said, it's a very difficult app to produce any real consistent beats with due to how the controls are tracked. I ended up giving my students the option to use two pens for this game as part of a 'real drumming experience'.
This is a simple game with a reasonable control system and simple goal. This is clearly aimed at younger kids and mine definitely enjoyed it. The current build can be a little buggy on start up but other than that it's a sound app.
I love the visuals of this game. Clay Jam's menus are relatively simple to work with and the game is a lot of fun. I can see there is quite a lot of gameplay time in this one and my students were keen to explore it further. The learning curve is reasonably fair and most kids found it easy to understand.
This is a rather simple app but it definitely tracks well and doesn't boast about being anything much more than a piano with a few songs. I didn't test this at great lengths with my students but they certainly enjoyed making a bit of noise.
We've had this game for a good month or two at Jackson School and it's been well responded to by our students. I love the hand-eye coordination that's involved in this game and the cool electronic music that plays with it. My early teens students were much more keen on this than younger ones. Again, good progression of difficulty and consistent gameplay that's responsive.
Hands-down the most stunning game available on the LEAP currently. This has incredible visuals and the music is just awesome! I loved letting the kids loose on this one. The onscreen tracking of fingers is really helpful for kids like mine and it's not hard to gain a sense of achievement from. Great game!
This one may be a bit dodgy with regard to control responsiveness but it's a lot of fun. This was a clear favourite for many young male students as it's one of the few games that have explosive action like many of their favourite Nintendo or PS3 games. Obviously there's no real educational value to this one.
This iOS version of this app has already been a bit of a favourite with some of my students so naturally I wanted to see what it was like on the LEAP. It's responsive, engaging, wonderfully creative and visually simple yet fresh. The absence of menus in order to play the game is terrific and students of all ages and abilities were able to get in and enjoy this game.
I've tested this one quite extensively with my students and given the wonderful people at FlowStudios some feedback on how the game could be improved. This is definitely a top 5 app for the LEAP. It's educational, fun, easy to control, has a good difficulty progression and is very appropriate for students with disabilities. I will provide more feedback on this one in future. Get it!
Until next time.
Send me a line if you've any questions or queries.