Tap Tap Tales is a company devoted to educational apps for children. They started in 2015 with the app Maya the Bee and have since been publishing around 5 apps per year. They currently have 12 published apps.
Tap Tap Tales’ background includes extensive experience developing, publishing, and distributing applications and video games. The team aspires to keep releasing educational games with high quality contents that will contribute greatly to the developmental process of children.
Respect your team and treat them like they are a key part of the process because they are. - Nicole…Click To Tweet
As an emerging early learning digital brand for children, Pacca Alpaca has a lot to teach about how their small production company developed this premium brand, launching with apps, then videos and onto various platforms. Join Nicole Seymour, Creative Director and Executive Producer, as she describes the challenges and the successes, adjusting objectives based on outcomes, and looking to the future as the brand evolves, all within the exceptionally competitive and crowded children’s media market.
Games in education are not killing the passion for learning and that’s a huge achievement. - Amir DoriClick To Tweet
Amir Dori, Senior Game Designer for Matific, had strong advice: forget grades. During Amir’s session at Casual Connect Tel Aviv, he explained ways failing is important, how grading takes the fun out of learning and how games can help kids extend their potential with engaging educational content – without killing their passion for learning. Amir stressed, “They are teaching you to be afraid of being wrong rather than seeing your mistakes as an opportunity to improve. Failure is extremely important, especially for kids because if you want to better at what you are doing, you need to know what you are doing wrong.”
'We see our games as interactive toys. Children learn a lot from playing with toys.'–Jaana NykanenClick To Tweet
Game Producer for Divine Robot, Jaana Nykanen explains how to make a successful mobile game and raise twins simultaneously. Jaana’s main advice: “Do what you love and love what you do.” Jaana guided the audience at Casual Connect Europe through the journey from being a child with a love of computers and games to being a mother and a game producer who now is making games for children. “Don’t worry, you will fuck up,” and that’s okay.
'Who here has a robotic vacuum cleaner, like me? OK, so we all have Cylons in our house.'–Eytan MajarClick To Tweet
While game design and UX design are very different fields, there’s a lot they can learn from each other. UX Architect and Game Designer Eytan Majar outlined some ways UX methodology can assist game devs in their craft during his Casual Connect Tel Aviv 2015 lecture.
“UX designers operate in the real world,” Eytan said. “Game designers work in an imaginary environment. … If you eat a flower, you cannot breathe fire through your mouth. It happens only in Mario. How can we use those two different crafts to make the other better?”
Eytan’s full speaking session is available for streaming below.
While Motion Math has garnered numerous awards and a reputation for excellence, many adults don’t understand the gameplay that proves very intuitive for children. During his presentation at Casual Connect USA, Gabriel Adauto shared his experience with designing for kids, tackling the parent market and Motion Math’s reasons for focusing on teacher users. One of the lessons he learned during play testing was this: “1. Kids aren’t very good with words (as instructions). 2. They won’t necessarily tell you to your face that whether they are going to like your game or not if you are sitting right there next to them.” Tune in below to learn how to solve this problem and others when making games for kids.
“The best way to get children to learn is to make them think they are playing!”, observed Julie Kuhn, founder of Super-Julie Apps during her session at Casual Connect Tel Aviv 2015. As a matter of fact, kids love apps that aren’t their parents’ favorites. Parents mainly see the tablet as an educational tool (and they can be skeptical, but minds are changing). The kids just want to play. The best apps use the best parts of the video game design to help children learn something new, step by step, challenge after challenge. Here are the ingredients of success you won’t want to forget. To learn more about what Julie has to offer, tune in below.
'Children have to see and feel that coding can change their world for the better.'–Sebastian WehnerClick To Tweet
If you make kids apps, you may want to consider developing your intellectual properties through more media than just video games, according to Sebastian Wehner, who spoke on the subject at Casual Connect Tel Aviv 2015. “Developers of children’s apps should consider multi-media channels for their IPS,” Sebastian said. “IPs can extend beyond just apps into other platforms such as TV, toys and, of course, books.” See his full session below.
The Ukrainian company ABC, Talk with Me!, founded by two successful computer developers from Ukraine and Belarus, has launched an interesting type of products for children and their parents – Alphabetic Blocks with augmented reality.
ABC, Talk with Me! is the platform where physical learning toys step into the digital world
Just imagine – good old “alphabetic blocks” with a capability of their immersion into the virtual world. In fact, a buyer purchases ordinary cubic blocks (also known as bricks or wooden cubes). From these children can build various structures, learn letters on their sides with help of their parents, or put them together to form words. These toys improve a child’s motor skills and imagination. But with a mobile phone or tablet with Android or IOS camera, which are getting into a must-have for grown-ups in a family and with the use of computer vision technology, these smart gadgets for adults will turn into a good teacher or pal for children as well. With the built-in camera, ABC, Talk with Me!, “smart program” analyses and finds blocks with letters. It also teaches a child how to play various games with physical toys.
Freelance writer Toiya Finley discusses writing for Academagia and shares her story of hope for other freelance writers who want to write for games.
Text-Based Games Live
Text-based games are making a comeback in the world of smartphones, handhelds, and good ol’ cell phones. Finley, who fairly recently transitioned her writing skills to the game industry, started in browser-based games. She is now looking ahead to the future of texting games.
Finley writes for Academagia: The Making of Mages, which was released a couple of months ago by Black Chicken Studio. This PC game, aimed at audiences ages 9+, combines mechanics from life simulation and text-based role-playing games.
Academagia, although not a console AAA title, has been a great learning experience for Finley as a freelancer. Undoubtedly writers, especially those working online, often struggle to be fully included in the development process. “It’s a vast game, so I was able to add a lot of my ideas to the universe,” says Finley.
”I was able to add a lot of my ideas to the universe.”
Finley is currently writing the downloadable content adventures. Soon, she will be starting design work on the sequel. Above all, player feedback drives her as she thinks ahead to the sequel. “It’s been a pretty awesome experience watching the community on the forums respond to the game and discover the elements which I contributed.”
Shortly after working with Black Chicken Studio, Finley also picked up a contract as an Interactive Story Designer and Game Designer for Slooce Technologies. Slooce creates single-player and multiplayer text-based games over Short Message Service (SMS). She gets to spend her days writing choose-your-own adventure style stories, albeit within a tight word count limit.
”I’m also playing around with new game concepts, which enable friends to play with each other, even if they don’t have smartphones,” Finley shares. Of course, she can’t talk about those, but their impending releases will demonstrate the exciting possibilities of the text-based game genre.
Finley’s journey into the game industry started with literal journeys to the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco.
“I’m one of those ‘I’ve been writing since I was three!’ types and I’d been playing games since I was five,” says Finley. About four years ago, she began to explore how she could combine her two passions. A friend of hers who was an owner of a game development studio suggested she check out GDC. Although she enjoyed the event and met with several very helpful Human Resource representatives, there weren’t any openings for game writers, let alone studios with in-house positions or freelance contracts.
Despite the setback, Finley attended the event again the following year and met a community of supportive writers. “After spending time with them, I was pretty confident that I could work in the industry,” Finley shares.
It took time and lots of posting on message boards and mailing lists, but eventually Finley found a request on a writer’s forum for lore writers, which turned out to be Academagia. Her enthusiasm and skills led to a position and later promotion.
Now, Finley is balancing the age-old challenge of freelancing—continuously seeking new work while completing contracts. Each project is different, which means that Finley can’t recycle writing samples time and time again.
“When applying for a job, you need to create all new samples that show you tailor your work to the project’s genre, tone, and style,” advises Finley. This can take a lot of effort and energy, and doesn’t guarantee getting the position, but it does build a portfolio for future work.
” When applying for a job, create all new samples that show you tailor your work to the project’s genre, tone, and style.”
Notably, freelance writers also face the unfortunate reality that their supportive community can also be their competition. One strategy for handling this situation involves finding a unique niche and sticking with an established client base. The other strategy requires developing your skills by focusing on getting a position using tailor-made writing samples and then learning along the way. After all, writing styles for games are just as unique as the mechanics themselves, as Finley has learned.
Finley is looking forward to unveiling her latest writing that involves unique game concepts for phone-based games.