What do you get when you cross a pony with a unicorn? According to 5 year-old Cassie Creighton, you get a ponycorn. According to renowned game blog Kotaku.com, you get what may just be “the most adorable video game ever created.” According to me, you get an intergenerational father-daughter experience around media creation that is as magical as the ponycorns themselves.
Sissy’s Magical Ponycorn Adventure is a video game created by Cassie and her dad Ryan, founder of Toronto’s Untold Entertainment. The game — written, illustrated and voiced by Cassie – has become somewhat of a phenomenon, receiving national TV coverage, press in papers such as The Toronto Star and The National Post, and buzz from a plethora of websites and blogs ranging from The Huffington Post to Wired UK.
The point-and-click web game follows a little girl named Sissy on her quest to collect five magical ponycorns and put them in jars. Take 10 minutes today and play this game. Do it now. Finish it. And trust me, if it doesn’t bring a smile to your face you may just be more evil than a lemon (best line of the game: “That’s what you get for being evil AND a lemon“)!
The game was developed as part of the Toronto Independent Game Development Jam, an annual three-day gathering where Toronto’s indie games scene gets together to produce something new. Ryan and Cassie were one of 80 teams who met their goal of “finishing a good, small game in 3 days.” In his blog, dad Ryan talks about the resistance he faced around bringing a child to the event. A lot of people were nervous that 5-year old Cassie would be disruptive — especially himself! But he took her anyway, motivated by the desire to spend time with his daughter and at the same time give her some tech training in a fun way. Clearly the results were positive for all involved.
Here at the Cooney Center, we talk a lot about the importance of intergenerational interaction and joint media engagement to promote children’s healthy development and learning. We also talk about the great learning that can happen when children create their own games and other forms of media. That’s why I love this story of Cassie, her dad Ryan, and their magical ponycorns — it combines the benefits of intergenerational play and media creation.
While the Creightons are obviously at an advantage because of Ryan’s technical expertise, you don’t have to be a developer to engage in game creation with your children. Starting as babies, we all create games within the structures of our own families. I have a 14-month-old, and the current game in our household consists of us all joining hands at the dinner table — only when everyone is holding hands do we sing. If someone drops his or her hand the singing stops (my husband will be thrilled that I am sharing this story). My daughter finds this game absolutely hysterical. She understands the rules and anticipates the rewards. While the games we create can vary from the simple to the complex, we can all probably think of games invented within our own family structures. I use the story of Cassie and her dad as a challenge to think about how we can use today’s digital media tools to compliment this family play pattern of game creation.
So what do you get when you cross a pony with a unicorn? A magical ponycorn. A wonderful game. Hilarious insight into the logic of a five year old. And an intergenerational media creation experience between a father and daughter that will last a lifetime.