Warning: Kids at Work

by Vanessa Liwanag
June 15, 2009
Kent, I'll be coming in with a cavalry of kids. Warning!!!"

That was the text message I sent Kent, and not long before that, I barged into the lab with a bunch of kids eager for a "field trip."  I just had finished having tea at Arla with a colleague of mine, Gjeff Lamigo, talking about life and whatnot, when I invited him over to drop by the lab. He asked me if the kids could come. I said, "Sure!" He had four kids, two boys and two lovely girls, so I thought we could pretty much manage that.  But as soon as we were going to board the van, when I looked behind me, there were a whole bunch of tots following behind, the whole Lamigo Junior clan.  Woh! That's a handful. The van tuned into a school bus.  So, I sent the warning to Kent.

Like what we always say...the best way to gauge a project, an exhibit for that matter, is by testing it with kids.  If I could explain it simply to an 8-yr old, then I have fully understood the project.  If they find it interesting and wanting to play more and stay longer, then it is a successful exhibit.

When we arrived, Kent said, "Just in time! We need testers for the game."  Kent had just installed Armagetron and needed to check if the PCs could handle multiplayer and 3D games. And so we got inside the lab, and instantly the kids ran inside, looked at the wood structure, at the computers, and were shooting questions left and right. 

"What's this?...What's that?"

"What's Biomodd?"

"Why is there green water and white water?"

"What's a micro-algae?  Can we see it?"

"Can we touch the robot arm?"

I felt like I was given a pop-quiz for Biomodd.  As I tried to answer their million-and-one questions, I toured them around the lab...with the occasional "Be careful!" and "Don't touch that!"  Brushing up on Biomodd 101, I tried explaining as best as I could... I tried!!! The kids were starting to lose some interest...

And then came Kent to the rescue!  "Kids, wanna play a game?", and he showed them the terminals. And in a flash, the kids already found their seats. "All you have to do is press X, Y..." Kent instructed and even before he finished the line the kids were already playing.

There were seven kids (baby included).  Well, only three terminals were working at that time, so the others kids had to wait for their turn.  Mishka, the little girl, couldn't budge the the big boys aside, so she retreated to playing with the PSP.
"What are you playing," I asked her.
"Teken, an old game," she answered, to my surprise, and went back to her game. Goodness! I feel so old. But looking at the little girl play with the PSP amazes me.
I personally am not a fan of gaming, I have my own reservations about it, even scolding my own nephews for being addicted to it.  But looking at the kids go...they were really into it.
Kent, Gjeff and I sat back and observed the kids.  "See how the kids are so techie? Look at the way they handle the keyboards." I couldn't agree more. And next thing we knew, there were shrieks coming from the terminals.
"YES!!! Panalo ako!"
"Kanina ka pa eh... ako naman!"
"Ikaw na lang yung red, ako blue!"
And the kids were taking or pushing for their turns on the terminals.  But then suddenly, one of the kids yelled, "Adik! Meron ba nito sa PSP?" Now that got our attention. They were begging their dad/uncle to stay longer.
So the kids stayed a bit, played some more. We kinda had to extract the kids from the game. And finally, Gjeff had to put his foot down. "Kids, time's up!" And one by one the kids left, got onto the van and we bid them farewell.
Kent and I looked at each other.  Test was a success!  Thanks to our special team of Lamigo Junior game testers.
Now, how to make it more child-friendly...
Angelo: Haha! The team is getting younger every day! Did you shrink them Kent?