Listening to what children want
Lizzie Jackson was one half of a duo of academics (the other being David Gauntlett) who worked with BBC Children's to examine the behaviour of children using CBBC's virtual world for Children, Adventure Rock. In the first of a series of posts from Lizzie and David, Lizzie outlines a few of the findings from the study.
'Adventure Rock' is a 3D virtual play environment for 6-12 year olds which launched in April, 2008. Children explore an open air world to solve the mysteries of the island, meet crocodiles and robots, play games, go snowboarding, make videos, cartoons, invent contraptions and go dancing, and so on. We ran a year-long research project aimed to find out what children thought of 'Adventure Rock' and other virtual worlds for children such as Club Penguin and Moshi Monsters. The main researchers were Lizzie Jackson (myself) and David Gauntlett, from the University of Westminster, working primarily with Rachel Bardill and Pete Davies at BBC Children's.
90 children aged 7-11 from Cardiff, Belfast, Glasgow and London took part. The children told us what they liked and didn't like in two sets of creative workshops and in diaries. Their parents also gave us their views via a questionnaire and we spent time with the producers of 'Adventure Rock'.
The children told us they wanted to be sociable, creative, to have control of the space and to be able to change it, to have a visible status, to know where they were, to have a clear mission. They also liked the fact that 'Adventure Rock' was 'outdoors' and that there was some humour. Children felt virtual worlds should provide help when you need it, and they wanted to see professional video from CBBC, plus their own work and other children's work in the worlds. They wanted somewhere to live (a home, hotel or town), and to have shops and a place away from adult rules!
After they had seen the findings BBC Children's producers decided to place more video within the world and the activities children could do together were increased by extending the accompanying website. The research showed 'Adventure Rock' didn't offer all the things the children wanted, however both the children and the parents felt the BBC should be providing content like 'Adventure Rock'. To read both an overview report for general readers and a fuller report with more information on 'Adventure Rock' project go to artlab.org.uk