Fairside Squad | 4 MIN READ

Designing games for kids, with kids… Enter the Fairside Squad!

February 18, 2022 By Vijay Sinha
Fairside Squad Workshop Brainstorm

Fairside Squad header

Introduced back in January 2022, The Fairside Squad is an exclusive group of kids who we provide the opportunity to collaborate with us on the creative process of designing, improving and making our game Fairside Stories more fun for everyone.

One of the ways we wanted to achieve this was to host, for the first time ever in BFP history, our very own game design workshop… just for our Squaddies! It’s through these interactive online sessions where kids will learn about various aspects important to not just Fairside Stories, but the making of video games in general. Game design, storytelling, critical thinking and value systems – there’s a lot to cover. So what could be more exciting for a young fan than to see their own ideas in a game that the whole world gets to experience?

Noble vs Crafty

This is all well and good. However, to make things more exciting for the kids, a poll was emailed to the Fairside Squad before the workshop, asking them to vote for their favorite game storylines that they wanted to see us make. What the Squaddies didn’t know was that we were planning to use their most-voted theme, just for the workshop!

Our community poll winner!

Wouldn’t you know it but the winner of our poll was: “A dog is stuck in a spaceship that’s taking off for Mars! Can you rescue the poor thing?”

bhavna and matt

Great! So now we had our workshop format and our most popular storyline voted by our community. Ready to go, right? Well, we still had one more trick up our sleeve. Because this was our first ever online workshop, we still wanted to make it extra special for the kids. So after making some calls and pulling in a bunch of favors, we did it… We got Fairside’s very own Matt Numberson to host the workshop for the Fairside Squad! Who else but a resident of Fairside to spice things up?

A decision in "Class President"

It was finally time for our workshop! We had over 10 participants from the Squad who joined us and the overall response was fantastic and so humbling. During our play-through of the story “Class President,” kids were very enthusiastic about reading character dialogue and making their choices by either voting aloud or responding in the chat. If you’ve heard of “Twitch Plays Pokemon,” then you already have an inkling of how exciting this actually was for everyone involved.

spacebarks workshop 1

The highlight of the workshop by far was our Squaddies coming up with different decisions for their story about a dog stuck in a spaceship. Kids were able to quickly chart out multiple decisions. Some of their options definitely had us smiling. “Put an astronaut suit on the dog?” That’s too adorable NOT to consider. “Spread a rumor about a natural disaster to delay the launch?” Whoa! Even Matt didn’t think things would go there. Keep in mind, this was just ONE group of kids coming up with their own set of ideas.

Once both groups were done, the Squad came together to share their designs. While there’s certainly a lot to cover in terms of what all the respective groups were able to come up with, it’s still amazing to see them do it together, for the very first time, in a game design-focused workshop in just 30 minutes.

After we bid farewell to our Squaddies, we sent a feedback form afterwards to gauge overall interest levels. Again, much to our surprise, the kids were overwhelmingly positive about the exercise! By far, their most favorite activity was coming up with story ideas on how to get the dog out of the spaceship. “I liked how interactive and fun it was,” said one Squad member. Another said, “What barber does Matt go to?” A perfectly valid question and we may never know!

This was but a small taste of what we have in store for the Fairside Squad and the kind of activities we have planned for the community. Next stop: Taking kids’ ideas and making them inside Fairside Stories! Stay tuned for more.

Fairside Squad Buttons

Do you know any parents who want their kids (8-12 years old) to be part of the Fairside Squad and help us play-test while building all sorts of creative and critical thinking skills?

Once signed up, Squaddies will receive an official starter pack for kids which includes goodies and a primer on scheduled events and workshops.

Sign-up today: https://bit.ly/FairsideSquad

For any questions, email us at: squad[at]bigfatphoenix.com