PUZZINGO is recently rated #5 on the list of the most popular apps for Babies and Toddlers by Fiscal Times! Among the other tops on the list are also some of our favorite apps – Peekaboo Barn, Magic Piano, Winnie the Pooh, and of course Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat.
In a related article on Fiscal Times, Julie Halpert, the author of Making up with Mom, wrote about the explosive adoption of iPad/iPhone for children. In fact, she quoted a statistic that 24% of kids between the age of 3 and 8 own their own iPad and 8% own their own iPhone! While I know some people would argue that these numbers seem high, the reality is that our experience corroborate the fact that many kids have access to iPhones and iPads. Certainly in our household, my young boy refers to daddy’s iPad as “my iPad”. Here is a link to the full article for you to read:
Clearly as a kid’s app maker, the issue of “screen-time” of iPad and iPhone in young children’s lives is something that’s never far from our minds. Furthermore, the people behind 77SPARX Studio are all parents ourselves. This is why when we approach our game design, we approach it from the perspective of a “toy maker.” Just as great toys are not only fun, but good for kids, we believe that when designed well, a “digital toy” on an iPad can provide a similar type of enjoyment and benefit. Designing games that are addicting to kids for the sake of addicting is definitely not our goal and something we strive to avoid. I think the comment I left on Julie Halpert’s blog sums it up well:
I also want to add my 2-cents on the debate of iPad/iPhone for young kids. In general, the way we think about this issue is by asking “what is the play and learning pattern that a young kid normally does anyways, that we are trying to enhance through this new digital medium.” In fact, while the market view product we create as “kid’s games” or “kid’s apps”, we view our products as “digital toys.” So internally within our company, we are constantly challenging ourselves to come up with, and design the next great “toy.” And we look a lot at popular and classic toys for inspirations.
While this toy vs video game distinction may seem artificial at first, but the reality is, it drives a very distinct approach to game design and the ultimate goal of our products. Take Puzzingo for example, rather than being inspired by the Super Mario Brothers, we are inspired by the musical wooden puzzles. We then asked ourselves how we can make it better using this new digital medium. We wanted to not only capture the constructivist aspect of the game play, but also incorporate language learning. We then asked ourselves, after the construction is completed, what can the kid do with this, so we incorporated many mini-games into our puzzles. And as new releases of Puzzingo comes out, you’ll see even more of this type of thinking being incorporated into our design.
Finally, as parents ourselves, we also believe that even playing with good games on the iPad (like playing with any other toys), should be interspersed with other activities. And it should never be at the expense of physical and social activities.
What do you think?