What is Brikki?
Brikki (www.brikki.nl) is a little lion, his stories are made by children. They can make up stories, but also completely create their own stories, thanks to Brikki's modular approach. Brikki even has a real live event where children make stop-motion animations with Brikki's 'bricks'. Brikki has interactive booklets and he will be on television soon, with a special show made by children.
In short: Brikki is a crowdsourcing platform for children, with a broad range of experiments that put children in the director's seat.
How did Brikki start?
As a joke, I drew a little lion for my four-year-old nephew, Karsten. Because Karsten always surprises me with his lively imagination, I asked him to come up with stories for the lion. He liked this, as did other children (especially older children, to my surprise).
Then I thought: children have so much imagination, why do grown-ups make up stories for them? With modern technology, it's quite easy to let children create their own content.
What's important for content for children?
Firstly, it's about the basics: is it really simple to use, does it spark the imagination, will it continue to entertain and can children learn something from it?
Secondly, does it really empower children? I feel that most content for children is too focused on 'gamification': children are challenged to do something and they are rewarded with something entertaining. Although this content can be quite educational, it's basically entertainment, nice to keep your kid occupied while you're cooking.
I'm more interested in an approach that take this to the next level. Content that stimulates children's behavior in a way that goes further than the domain of the game: they don't just learn how to operate the app, but learn a thing about themselves and their world.
For an example, there are not that many apps that parents and children can use together. I think these could create a special kind of interaction and intimacy, which goes beyond learning how to count jumping melons.
There are many initiatives that inspire me: anything from Pixar, the Dr. Panda apps, MIT's experiments for children (like Scratch programming or MaKey MaKey), the Cinekid multimedia festival, the Steve Jobs-school of Maurice de Hond and also many Wii-games. These initiatives are not just well produced and fun to interact with, but they really stretch the boundaries of what children's content is about. They show how much children can do, when they are given the right tools.