Databases through the eyes of a 10 year old

04/09/2015 Posted by Steve

Video games: the perfect 10-year old treasure trove of data

Meet Mason, he is 10. He is an avid reader of reference books, a video game junkie and a professional database builder. Ok, maybe not a professional…yet.

But his dad is. That's me, Steve. Knack customer success agent and database builder by day, soccer dad and zookeeper by night.

Stats and data have always been an area of deep interest for Mason. Ever since he was able to read and write, he has enjoyed creating his own reference books. Books may be stretching it; more like sheets of scrap paper about video game characters stapled together, but you get the idea.

Being the son of a parent in the tech space, there was never any doubt technology would play a big part in his life. So to channel his inner nerd, I thought it might be fun for him to build his own web app and online database.

Working for Knack, it seemed like this would be a perfect opportunity to introduce my son to the company I work for and, since Knack is perfect for creating reference databases, give him the ideal toolkit to take his own reference “publications” to the next level.

Knack – so easy a 10 year old can use it?

We sat down, set up his account, and got down to business converting some of those stapled reference books into an online database of video game characters.

This turned out to be a great exercise, not only for Mason, but for myself. I knew I would have to “speak in his language” to explain a few things.

First we had to cover the notion of a “web application.” Kids know websites – YouTube is a popular one. So when Mason asked “what is a web application” I explained that web applications let you do stuff which is a little different than a website, where you mostly just read things.


Pages upon pages of character notes.

YouTube is a web application. It let’s you upload your own videos, rate other user videos and more. So like YouTube, a Knack web app let’s you upload all sorts of things like pictures, descriptions and ratings.

Once I brought YouTube into the discussion, it was smooth sailing. Mason track things like the character name, a rating, an image and other info like how you can buy or earn the character in the game. All of which he had in his notes.

Then, of course, he wanted to know how to get the names and ratings from his paper into the app. I explained that we just needed to add some “spaces” where he could type it in and that the Fields were the different types of spaces he could use. Once we added a few, it came together pretty quickly.

With his fields setup and a form to enter in his info, it was only a matter of minutes until he had several entries in his app. It was pretty fun to see how excited he was about his app. He couldn’t believe how cool it was!

Video Games are a data treasure trove

Let’s take a look at Mason’s Video Game Character Catalog:


Some of the neat features he is using:

  • Images – he uploads image files and, using a thumbnail setting, he reduced the size for the directory. He also used this for the avatar in the user ratings below.
  • User Logins – To permit access, he requires users to login and create a mini-profile before they can add a rating
  • Ratings – to collect and display user opinions, he added the rating field which uses a star rating system, or plain numbers if you like.
  • Formula – to collect the average rating from the user submitted ratings, he used a formula field.

Detail view of a Video Game Character complete with user ratings and reviews:


What’s Next?

The great part about Knack is it’s so easy to share your data. Mason can use this to track his own characters but also share these details and let others contribute. The next step for us is to setup a web domain, create a website and then embed his app in the website.

Then thousands upon thousands of gamers will flock to view his new reference catalog of video game characters!

However, even if he only has a few views, he will have learned a lot about data and Dad’s work, and did something productive with his “screen-time”. And he’ll have an awesome catalog to track his favorite characters he won’t have to keep stapled together.