I was on a panel at GDC this year called “Monetization of teens in a safe and legal way.” I was joking before the panel that it sounded like “How to make money off of kids.” Then I found out that it was QUITE the controversial session pre-conference. If only I would have known, folks, I would have spiced it up a bit more. ;)
But in reality, that’s what all of us in kids entertainment are doing – making our living from figuring out ways to get kids to like our stuff and have their parents/caregivers pay for it.
Sounds insidious, but we ARE in a capitalist society. If you are going to pick something to make money off of, kids entertainment is a pretty fun choice for your own work happiness levels. And it IS possible to do it in a non-sinister way, with high integrity and keeping an eye on your ethics. It’s easy – just make games/cartoons/toys that don’t suck.
LOL right? But really – make products that kids will love AND their parents will love. Parents will be more prone to not mind paying for your product for their kids if it’s beautiful, fun and their kids like it. Add a layer of learning in there and you are good as gold. Make any of those factors superficial or not focus on it at all, you are going to start to see that revenue/profit fall.
Of course, you will have to make it legally and safely too. But these should be pretty “Duh!” statements, right?
Legal - It is not difficult to comply with the regulations. You will get fined or shut down if you are doing things illegally, so figure out what features trigger what laws (or hire someone who can help you), then decide whether to comply or remove the feature. Easy as that.
Safe – It’s also not hard to make your game or toy safe, either. Figure it out. If you can’t, seriously, don’t make it at all. If you aren’t safe, or don’t have that as a priority, why are you making things for children in the first place? There are tons of other demographics you can work with who are less concerned with safety being a priority. Go there and make your money. Please. Leave the kids space to those of us who care and will continue to bend over backwards to keep the kids safe – not because we have to, but because we want to and we feel it’s the right thing to do.
Stop busting the balls of the person(s) on your team who are fighting for these things. Thank them for being that person and having that drive. Don’t make it a hostile environment for someone to bring up those sorts of concerns. If they are bringing it up, chances are one of your audience will too at some point, so consider it a fortuitous heads up, not annoying nuisance.
And give that person a raise too while you are at it (or at least buy them lunch sometime). Most of those people fighting for the underdog aren’t making the big bucks, so a little goes a long way. :)