Entertainment for kids is a rich and complex market. At Casual Connect Europe, a session titled Anticipating 2017 Trends…and What to Do About Them, Dubit Global Head of Research Peter Robinson illustrated the when, where and why of entertainment for kids. During this session, Peter described how to turn forecasts into strategy in development and marketing for modern day kids.
Analysts try to predict where technology, platforms and content are likely to go in the coming year. With new findings from Dubit Trends’ international survey of 2 to 15-year-olds, learn how you too can take advantage of the fact that “Gaming is a main thing kids use the tablets for” and “1/4 of kids media time is on games.” To learn more about kids entertainment consumption and how to understand what is coming next, be sure to watch the video of Peter’s session from Casual Connect Europe.
Peter Robinson is Global Head of Research of Dubit Limited;. Peter specializes in kids entertainment, ethical marketing to kids and the latest technology. With an extensive knowledge of the behavior and attitudes of young people, Peter’s strongest focus is on kids media consumption and how it is evolving.
Recently Peter discussed his career with Casual Connect and offered some insights into this exciting area of the games industry.
Casual Connect: Tell us about the work you do at Dubit. How did you come to work there?
Peter Robinson: I started here as a researcher, interested in taking a step out of general research towards a specialism. We only worked on projects related to kids and family and over the last few years we have really focused on entertainment, technology and education. We have made hires that add to our specialisms in this area and built our knowledge base. It’s what we love doing, what attracted me to the role and what keeps me here.
CC: What is your favorite thing about your job?
Peter: We invest in our knowledge, looking into areas of interest even without a commission or sponsor. We have used that to focus on ‘YouTubology’ in the early days of YouTube, to explore how to adapt heritage brands onto new platforms, and last year to identify the mechanics in content that flip the parent-child role so the child is the teacher.
CC: How have your past career experiences been helpful to you in your current position?
Peter: One of my previous roles was managing HNW communities for private banks. When it comes to researching young people, they weren’t doing it simply to pick up an incentive; they, much like HNW individuals, are invested in what they are talking about. If they take part in research they want to give an opinion, and quite often that opinion is very direct – which makes my life easier!
CC: What inspired you to pursue this career?
Peter: It’s one of those industries where you almost don’t need to ask. Technology, creativity and innovation – it’s hardly a boring place to be. I honestly can’t remember the last time where I didn’t learn something new at work.
CC: How did you become involved in the game industry? How did you make your start? What do you find to be the most fun part?
Peter: An admission, I’m not a gamer, and I am here by a complete fluke. But I’m very happy to be here and haven’t looked back. I was recruited by Dubit, who specializes in kids and family games and strategy. It was such a steep learning curve, and I think that is the most fun part. No two kids are the same; no parents have the same parenting style. Every time you make something, you get to see someone actually use it, and it helps you constantly improve that product. So the fun part is, once you’ve been involved in a fun project, you literally can’t ‘get off”.
CC: What do you do in your free time? What are your hobbies?
Peter: It was playing rugby; now it’s being a Dad – out walking, going on trains, eating my children’s leftovers. Between my job and my kids I don’t get much spare time; when I do I read almost non-stop. I love maps and history.
CC: If you were not in this industry, what would you be doing?
Peter: Moaning that I wasn’t in this industry. Given that I am influenced by my experience and this industry is a big part of that, probably teaching.
CC: What was your dream job as a child?
Peter: Truck driver. I loved the idea of alone time, travelling, music and the cozy little sleeping pods above the cabin.
CC: What has been your proudest moment during your career so far? What led to this moment happening?
Peter: It’s really hard to define, but it’s that tipping point when a client realizes that they can truly trust you. I remember it happening with the Moshi Monsters team. It just makes the agency relationship enjoyable and highly valuable. It happened after a Kidscreen presentation on YouTube typologies, when YouTube was big but not, well, what it is now. The guys at Moshi approached me after the deck and we all spoke the same language.
CC: What do you think will be the next big trend in the industry in the next three to five years? How are you incorporating this trend into your future plans?
Peter: From a kids perspective, we are really interested in a few things. Open play experiences, ed tech, virtual reality, but also the maturing of the back end technology, such as improved AI, more accurate voice recognition and how those change the interface and experience younger audiences have with tech. Our commitment is to invest as much time with kids through quantitative studies and face-to-face time to understand what they actually want technology to do.
CC: What are the best ways to get kids involved in game development today?
Peter: We have work experience students in every year and apprenticeships. They add so much to our business because they have new skills and think differently. We allow them to use the cutting edge tech such as the Oculus when it was first out, but also ensure they get the grind, like QA. Most importantly, they must feel free to have a voice and take ownership, so we use personnel objective plans to ensure that they are invested in their learning curve. The best sign of success is when someone leaves you because they have found a niche and want to pursue it at a market leader like Rockstar or Microsoft (equally annoying!).
CC: What skills can kids learn from video games?
Peter: My favorite games at the moment are those simple physics games you find on Miniclip and other casual games. It’s fascinating watching the learning curve when we do user testing. Some kids pick it up and pretty much hack the system within five minutes – it’s just so intuitive for them.
CC: How do you anticipate the market for children’s games evolving in the next few years?
Peter: We asked some kids recently, and they just say more of the same. Sometimes they want triple A, narrative experiences; other times they want mobile and casual. Right now there is an abundance of choices out there. Two things they are expecting are virtual reality becoming more affordable and the app store becoming more effective at surfacing new content.
CC: How can developers of children’s games keep abreast of changes in children’s preferences? What do they need to do to form effective strategies to handle the changes?
Peter: Research. That’s what I believe in and why I do it. My aim is to remove the researcher from the process; we create the methodology, but the best insights come from creative, developers, project teams observing how their audiences use their features and their games. The people who make the games have a totally different perspective from a researcher.
CC: What is something you have always wanted to talk about in the game industry but were never asked about?
Peter: Under 13’s and social media. It’s such a shame we can’t have an honest conversation.
CC: What kind of things or changes would you like to see out of others in the games space?
Peter: It’s not the games makers, it’s the distribution. Mobile is massive amongst younger audiences, but there is no new way to surface new game content; sometimes it just feels like more of the same, and the original games you have to look for.
CC: What do you seek to focus on in your job and in the games industry?
Peter: For me it’s observation of users, and bringing them closer to the design of games.
CC: What changes or help do you hope to bring to the industry?
Peter: We are conducting a massive VR study with health experts and child development professionals on under 13’s use of VR. We know kids will be using the technology and want to make sure we have honest and frank conversations about appropriate guidelines on content and user experiences. Anyone who has an interest or opinion, do get in touch.
CC: What would you say your mission statement is?
Peter: Help people make sense of your audience.
CC: Do you have any announcements you would like to make?
Peter: SAME AS ABOVE. We are conducting a massive VR study with health experts and child development professionals on under 13s use of VR. We know kids will be using the technology and want to make sure we have honest and frank conversations about appropriate guidelines on content and user experiences. Anyone who has an interest or opinion, do get in touch.
If Peter says it twice, it must be important! You can get in touch with him at email@example.com.
Catherine Quinton is a staff writer for www.gamesauce.org. Catherine loves her hobby farm, long walks in the country and reading great novels.