Educational content inspired by formats that children love
We are experts in producing gaming content that entertain and educates a hugely demanding audience – children. Combining sophisticated game design, cutting edge digital production and a deep knowledge of this audience, we have produced games for the world’s most popular children’s TV programmes including Doctor Who, The Dumping Ground, and Strange Hill High. These games have been developed for multiple platforms and devices and have become hugely successful in educating children through entertainment they love.
Our games work for children has been recognised with us being named Children’s BAFTA Company of the Year in 2013 and 2015.
Doctor Who: The Doctor and the Dalek
“The Doctor and the Dalek” is an extraordinary game — as ever, the fate of the universe is at stake and only a tame, beaten-up Dalek ‘driven’ by the player can save it.
Aimed at the CBBC audience, the game was commissioned as part of the BBC’s Make it Digital initiative, which exists to inspire a new generation to get creative with coding, digital technology and programming. It exists across the web, iPad, Android and Kindle.
The game combines a joyfully hectic 2D platform game with puzzles that teach — and then test — basic concepts from coding set in the same game world. All these skills are those taught in the Key Stage 2 and 3 curriculum.
The CBBC audience is incredibly demanding — just branding a generic game with Doctor Who will never do (and one can imagine how protective of the brand the BBC is). Our process of iterative development and co-creation with the target audience was even more important than it normally is, and this time educationalists were key team members to ensure the outcomes fit the learning objectives. Not just the colour palette but details right down to the handling of the Dalek (its acceleration and braking) were finely tuned so its target audience loved the game.
The result has been something that is both loved as a standalone game and used in classrooms — while assisting the BBC with a crucial strategic objective.
"Not only is it a really entertaining platform game for kids to play but it’s also a great introduction to some key principles of computer programming."
Sinéad Rocks – Head of BBC Learning
The Dumping Ground: You're the Boss
Available on mobile and web, You’re the Boss! is easily the most ambitious extension of the Tracey Beaker universe into gaming to day. The Dumping Ground is the most popular of all the CBBC brands — so the stakes with this project were very high.
The Dumping Ground is a very sensitive property: it deals with vulnerable young people in difficult situations with humour and directness. We wanted a game mechanic that was genuinely built on the mechanics of nurturing human beings. The game is a sim, where the player has to respond to emerging events in a way to promote the maximum amount of happiness tasking, rewarding and disciplining housemates to do so. It’s as engrossing and exciting as the best episodes of the TV show upon which it’s based and in fact, is tied into the 2015 run with events unlocking in-game as the TV is broadcast.
We’re delighted with the response the game has had — many, 5-star reviews across all platforms where the game can be played. It’s been successful because it didn’t do the easy thing: it went to the heart of what makes The Dumping Ground popular with its audience and found a way to express it in gameplay, as difficult as this was. Rich with vibrant animations and sound, and generative gameplay that offers almost unlimited variety were all carefully built. This audience expects the properties it loves to be on the platforms it loves, with consistent approach and seamless integration with the other expressions of the brand.
Strange Hill High: The Merchant of Menace
A bonkers game for the CBBC audience. Easily the most bonkers game Somethin’ Else has produced, The Merchant of Menace was ‘the lost 13th episode’ of the first series of Strange Hill High — it aimed to look, feel and sound exactly like an episode of the TV show, only an episode the player could inhabit and over which they had agency.
This game was a landmark collaboration with another creative team — the TV producers of SHH — where it was almost impossible to tell where each team started and stopped. We integrated not only with the 3D graphic asset pipeline but also the writing team. The result was a true 3D exploration game with some insane mini-games that saw the player turned into a pinball among other things. As far as possible, the same processes that go into making an episode of the TV show were employed, with Somethin’ Else leading the game design. Obviously, actors like Richard Ayoade reprised their roles bringing the exact same attention to detail in the game as elsewhere.
The game has been fantastically well-received by its audience that increasingly expects seamless ‘service design’ from the entertainment brands it enjoys: there should be a game, and it should have the same humour and vibe as wherever else Strange Hill High can be found.