Thursday, 5 February 2015

playing KLANG: the road home

Today saw the launch of a new kids game, for the tablet, or your smart 'phone.

Unusually for a game, it was lauched by Scotland's Transport Minister, Derek Mackay. He said:  
“In recent years we have seen real improvements in road safety but more can be done, that is why we aim to build on this by looking at new and innovative ways of educating our young people on how to stay safe.
“This app is a great way of delivering important road safety messages that will keep users engaged with the technology while linking to the curriculum, offering added benefits for pupils, teachers and parents alike.”

It doesn't sound promising does it? But we thought we'd give it a go.

The  app, called KLANG: The Road Home, was developed by Road Safety Scotland and the Scottish Government, and is aimed at 8-11 year olds.

The new game sees alien robot Klang crash land on earth from a nearby galaxy. To fix his ship and make his way home, he needs help to safely navigate our busy streets to find the missing parts - all the while avoiding discovery from rogue detection officers.

With more and more cars on the roads, pedestrian accidents continue to be a serious problem. Children aged 8 -11 are one of the most vulnerable groups with injuries commonly resulting from crossing the road close to home or school. This is the age at which a lot of kids start walking to school by themselves, and yet the capacity to make judgements regarding speed and distance are not yet fully developed.

Crossing the road: 2015 style
So, I downloaded this game and gave it to my 9 year old son to play. I have to say, he was pretty chuffed to be playing something so very new.  His sisters (4 and 7) were curious, so they watched him playing, which sparked them talking about where was safe to cross the road, which was good in my book.

The boy played the game for about half an hour. He said that he thought it looked good, it was easy to work out how to do things (he was showing his four year old sister how to do it too, but she wasn't accurate enough). He said it was fun to play, but it wasn't something he'd want to play again and again. He did have problems with a couple of the mini games - one was annoyingly fiddly to work, and one didn't seem to work at all, but this is the first day, hopefully these minor glitches will be ironed out.

He noticed that the app was trying to teach him about crossing the road, and said that that was good. He thought he probably would think a bit more about where to cross next time.

So it's a pretty good game, for a one off play, but you wouldn't want to do it all the time. We did think it would be good to have on school tablets, to use as a teaching tool when talking about road safety.

KLANG: The Road Home is available to download from the app store and Google Play for iOS and Android (although I couldn't find it on Google Play, so got it here).