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7 Game Design Rules that Apply to Therapy Games (as well)

My current job/civilian service has given me the unique opportunity to have a look at a variety of therapy games that have been designed for children’s neurorehabilitation. Most of those games come with specialised input devices.

As a matter of fact, it’s usually the input devices that come with games. Too often, the games seem to have been created as an afterthought of the device, and too often, those games have good intentions, but fail to deliver.

In order to be aware of those problems myself, I decided to make a list of my observations and how they could be mitigated.

The following points do not intend to discredit the work of all the people that designed and programmed the therapy games mentioned, it should merely discuss some problems that can occur and should be addressed when designing new games. Of course, that mostly means me, so I don’t fall into those pitfalls myself.

Common Pitfalls and their Resolutions

First of all, it has to be said that if you’re tasked with creating a therapy game for children, you have quite a challenge to overcome. Children are one of the most demanding audiences, and they will have no problems picking your game apart at the seams when they feel like it. They will feel most inclined to do so when you give them reasons. Like creating incoherent game worlds. A running dog that has to avoid exploding mushrooms by jumping whenever boing poked in the belly with a huge hand and meanwhile collecting diamonds that hang suspended in thin air?