Designing digital games for rural children: a study of traditional village games in India

Matthew Kam, Akhil Mathur, Anuj Kumar, John Canny
ACM Human Factors in Computing Systems (2009)


Low educational levels hinder economic empowerment in developing countries. We make the case that educational games can impact children in the developing world. We report on exploratory studies with three communities in North and South India to show some problems with digital games that fail to match rural children’s understanding of games, to highlight that there is much for us to learn about designing games that are culturally meaningful to them. We describe 28 traditional village games that they play, based on our contextual interviews. We analyze the mechanics in these games and compare these mechanics against existing videogames to show what makes traditional games unique. Our analysis has helped us to interpret the playability issues that we observed in our exploratory studies, and informed the design of a new videogame that rural children found to be more intuitive and engaging.