PBS KIDS Debuts New Donkey Hodie Game


PBS KIDS is set to launch Cousin Hodie Playdate, a free online game designed to help develop empathy in all kids, on its website and games app this month.

Created in partnership with advisors and experts while keeping neurodiverse children top of mind, the game invites players to join Cousin Hodie and Donkey Hodie in playing Dinko Doodle Disc Drop, where they are encouraged to guess how Cousin Hodie is feeling by paying attention to body language, verbalizations and scenarios related to different emotions.

The game features a variety of settings to help players of different abilities and needs engage with the experience, including visual support in the form of high contrast, a highlighted interactive mode and reduced visual effects. There are also audio controls for sound effects, voiceover and music, as well as gameplay settings that let players or caregivers change what emotions are allowable and how frequently they occur.

Cousin Hodie Playdate features characters from Donkey Hodie, a spin-off of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood from Fred Rogers Productions and Spiffy Pictures.

Carleá Jean Magee, a user experience researcher with a background in psychology, clinical counseling and applied behavior analysis (board registered), who identifies as neurodiverse herself, and Dr. Natascha Crandall, advisor for the Donkey Hodie series, advised on the game. Melanie Harke, an interactive producer at Fred Rogers Productions, who works on both Donkey Hodie and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, also played an integral role in developing the game.