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Designing Games for Kids

9 replies [Last post]
Joined: 02/10/2014

Hello, I've been working on an educational game for one of my college level classes. I'm not sure the exact age range that it will fall under as I've been play-testing it with 2nd & 3rd graders as well as my adult aged friends. While I'm pretty sure the game will fall under general use for the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), I did see that TheGameCrafter says this about publishing games for kids

"The Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) requires that all products manufactured for children under the age of 12 be tested by an independent third party. This testing costs several thousand dollars per product, and is therefore not something we can realistically provide.

While we think that it's important to protect children from choking hazards, toxins, and malfeasance, this law pretty much ensures that small publishers like yourself will never be able to create products for children under 12"

Now I went to the website and was reading through FAQs: Children's Products, under Product-Specific FAQs they have the following information for board games:

Are board games considered children's products?
The Commission has determined that traditional board and table games, like chess, checkers, backgammon, playing cards, or Chinese checkers are commonly recognized as equally attractive to children and adults because the level of difficulty increases or decreases, depending on the player's skill. Versions of these games, and similar games commonly considered by consumers to appeal to a general audience, are not considered children's products.

However, if a manufacturer adds features to the game or its packaging that make it more attractive to or suitable for children, then the game could be considered a children's product rather than a general use product. Specifically, where a product, such as a board game, exists in junior and regular versions, the junior version likely would be considered a children's product, and the regular version would not. For games with small parts, sharp points and edges, and other similar characteristics for children ages less than 9 years old then the game should be considered a children's product. For games intended for an audience of 9-year-olds and older, please see the prior question on products for children ages 9 to 12 years old.

So if I design a card game that is appealing for both kids and adults, I should be fine, correct?

donut2099's picture
Joined: 01/09/2014
I know some adults that could

I know some adults that could choke on a card game. Its sad that government regulations tend to put so many roadblocks in the way of entrepreneurial endeavors .

Joined: 01/30/2014
that's a toughie

I imagine you may receive a lot of input about whether or not 'you should be fine' as you put it, but asking anyone other than a qualified individual about this kind of legal stuff might not be a good idea? I'm hesitant to even throw out my opinion on legal questions! I'll bet there's somebody experienced with children's products on this board who can help you, but be wary about who you take advice from.

truekid games
truekid games's picture
Joined: 10/29/2008
Look up CPSIA rules for

Look up CPSIA rules for small-batch publishers... most games are produced by companies that qualify for exemption under that rule. If you get big enough to no longer qualify for the exemption, you'll probably also be big enough to pay for the testing.

Joined: 02/10/2014

Ah thanks, wasn't looking for any sort of legal advice (though it probably sounds like it). I was curious if anyone had any experience publishing card games for kids and could point me in the right direction. I'll take a look around at what the rules says for small batch publishers, thanks for another point to research :)

First Google hit:
The Small Batch Manufacturers Registry is the online mechanism by which Small Batch Manufacturers can identify themselves to obtain relief from certain third party testing requirements for children’s products. To register as a Small Batch Manufacturer, an applicant must attest that it satisfies two threshold requirements. First, it must attest that its total gross revenue from the prior calendar year (e.g., calendar year 2013 sales to qualify for calendar year 2014) from the sale of all consumer products is $1,052,913 or less. Second, it must attest that it manufactured no more than 7,500 units of the covered product that qualifies the Small Batch Manufacturer for registration.

I think I can safely say that I probably won't be making my first million off this product and I don't have anywhere near the funds to turn out 7,500 copies of the games unless something goes horribly right with Kickstarter.

And here is where you would register as a small batch manufacturer at:

Joined: 02/10/2014
On second thought...

I'll probably be self-publishing this game, so I'll be the publisher not the manufacturer. The manufacturer is whomever is going to be printing the game, correct? So this might be something i need to talk with the printing people with...

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011

Well one thing is for certain, you won't be able to market your game for kids... Why? Because kids don't surf on grown up design site or blogs. They usually hit the free game website. And I'm pretty sure you don't have a television series about your game, so kids can grow attached to characters.

Also kids don't have credit cards... I doubt you have the financing to actually market to kids. And I've been through the process, obviously not realizing that my game for nine (9) year old kids isn't going to a household name like Pokemon or Yu-Gi-oh! I'm not saying your game is a CCG - but those two are household names for kids.

I would try to market it for adults to play with their kids. It could have *cutesy* artwork and be very colourful to attract kids. Maybe even a *cartooney* feel to the artwork. That might probably work. In my venture I used a Marvel illustrator to get a mix between carton and medieval fantasy. The kids liked the game, I think I had about 6 playtest the game. But of course that was the problem, I could only demo the game to 6 children!

I really don't think I will design another game for kids (9+) because of the barriers to entry and the problems in terms of marketing and availability of disposable income.

I would Private Message (PM) Aerjen... I know that he was working on several games for kids including "Leprechaun Slap" which is designed for kids 4+ years old. But I think that game is only a card game... I don't believe there are any parts. You'd have to speak with him because he has several games that publishers are picking up and they are all for kids under 12 years of age.

Personally I'm working on games that are fundamentally DUALS. And then trying to open up the game to something like a four (4) player game... In the dual genre which is targeted for 13+. Kids I have talked with are really into games that are about "battling". Obviously I'm designing the game for an older audience but am hoping to attract younger players when they see the game played!

Back to your post: if the manufacturer needs to pay for some kind of third party verification, you better believe that in the end you will be the one eating the cost... There is no way any manufacturer will have your game approved by some third party without you paying the cost of said inspection.

Now if you were publishing the game via a "Publisher"... Well maybe then the publisher would assume the cost for inspection/approval. That makes more sense to me...

Good luck with your game!

Joined: 02/10/2014
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I wasn't ever really planning on selling the game to kids, its an educational card game (not a ccg), so I'd most likely be targeting schools/teachers/ parents for the game. Thanks for the name to contact about asking questions. Finding out I need to slim down the amount of cards in the deck so it will fit better with a manual in the box. Ill shoot Aerjen a pm and see if he has any helpful advice!

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
Game-O-Gami is another

EduGame wrote:
...its an educational card game (not a ccg), so I'd most likely be targeting schools/teachers/ parents for the game.

Maybe contact gameogami and see if he had any issues with his game: "Goblins drool, Fairies Rule!":

He had BIG success with his game... And he was published by Game Salute. If you check out the videos, you'll see that the game was designed for kids and even appeals to girls!

Evil ColSanders
Evil ColSanders's picture
Joined: 12/08/2010
My "Tile Pile" game is

My "Tile Pile" game is designed for children. The hard pieces have to be at least 2.51 inches+ wide to be acceptable.

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