Taras Leskiv shares his experience with creating games for children during Casual Connect Eastern Europe 2014. And one of the lessons he has learned is, he says,”Children are the best QA!”
As lead programmer at Nravo Kids, Taras Leskiv loves an intellectual challenge. As an English Language enthusiast, he spends his free time translating technical articles into his native language, and he is also a member of Coursera Global Translator Community. His other interests are startups, analytics, board games, and puzzles, balanced with the physical activity of table tennis.
His enjoyment in using his mind is equally apparent in his gaming. He is currently playing Dota 2 for the challenging mind games it is famous for. He also plays Skyrim because he enjoys the RPG experience and, as he says, “It’s great to have some rest.” He rarely plays any free-to-play games, preferring to buy full games from Steam and using a PC for his gaming.
A Focus on Children
Taras sees a lack of high-quality digital educational content for children in Eastern Europe and Nravo Kids is focused on filling the void by building a company that can provide this content with superior educational games for Ukrainian children. Taras notes that the number of mobile devices in Ukraine has been growing dramatically in the last several years, so the company is working actively with the community to understand what they would like to have on the market and how to monetize it.
Prior to working in the games industry, Taras worked for a company that provided English language courses. He has found the English he mastered there very valuable in his present work. He also spent a great deal of his time working with children, teaching English classes and conducting English master classes. This experience is critical in allowing him to understand the specifics of developing games for children. It also helped him with ideas for useful features and game improvements.
“My the most memorable teaching experience is from a summer English-speaking camp where I conducted master-classes about 7 Wonders of the Ancient World in English for Ukrainian children,” Taras says. “I had to gamify my classes to get children interested in the subject of ancient history and to teach them English at the same time.”
Currently, Taras is the only developer at Nravo Kids, handling all the development using the Unity 3D game engine. He is also responsible for the publishing process. “We are a really small and compact startup team that consists of six people for now,” Taras says. “So every team member has to be quite universal.” Since he had always wanted a career in game development, when the opportunity at Nravo Kids arose, he immediately joined the company.
The most gratifying time in his career came with the publishing of the first Nravo Kids game, Who’s in the Mountains?, on all major mobile platforms. With the initial idea of having a simple game, it soon became clear that the game would need to have more to it than planned. “The development was driven by the main goal – every aspect in the game has to be not only fun but also have educational value,” says Taras. As the only developer on this project, he successfully handled all the development as well as the publishing process to Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. Taras mentioned there were a few challenges when it came to wearing two hats, saying “it sometimes gets hard to switch between development and publishing contexts of the production process. Multitasking can’t get you focused at times.” But he looks at the bright side. “It’s a wonderful experience to develop a project from scratch to a final published title.”
Although Taras admits he is not particularly good at predicting trends in the games industry, he is expecting to see a major impact in the future from porting AAA titles like Bioshock and GTA from PC to mobile.
Catherine Quinton is a staff writer for www.gamesauce.org. Catherine loves her hobby farm, long walks in the country and reading great novels.