Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Toca Boca, wonderful and successful apps for children

Remco Pijpers, POSCON-member and working for Kennisnet and Mijn Kind Online, visited head quarts of Toca Boca in Stockholm to interview the makers of the wonderful and very popular children’s apps. What is their secret? 

Toca Boca was only founded in 2010, yet has since grown into a prominent player in the children’s app market. With a total of 68 million apps downloaded in 169 different countries, the company is clearly on to something. Their secret? Game designer Chris Lindgren has been with Toca Boca since the start and sums up the core philosophy: “We make toys, not games,” she says. It’s an important distinction. She goes on to explain that toys, as opposed to games, are more open-ended in their approach. They are materials to play with and fantasies around. “The best toys have a strong replay value; kids can keep finding new ways of playing with them,” Chris adds. That is what Toca Boca strives for in its apps. Also, where other apps may focus on learning cognitive skills in a more traditional sense, the focus here is on fun. Why? Because at Toca Boca, playing and having fun are considered “the best way to learn about the world”. Their aim is to stimulate young children’s imagination and support their creativity in a non-competitive digital environment, coupled with a child-friendly usability.

A lack of spoken language or written instructions is a further feature defining Toca Boca apps. This was a conscious decision made early on and has two benefits. Firstly, it makes the products more international and therefore, more financially viable. You can reach a global market without having to translate so much as a single word. Secondly, as Chris points out, it can help to make kids feel empowered: they don’t need their parents’ help to play the apps. At the same time, Toca Boca purpose-builds many of its apps as shared experiences, incorporating multi-touch features so children can play with others if they want to, be it with siblings, friends or parents. It’s a way to practice valuable social skills such as turn taking.

The complete story about Toca Boca will be published in a book in English made by Mijn Kind Online and POSCON. It will be available in November 2014. 

No comments:

Post a Comment