December 15, 2016

Designing for kids (the Finnish way)

Tuomas Vanamo

is the founder of Kapu Toys.

Apart from ski jumping, ice fishing, sauna and other stereotypically Finnish activities, we Finns are also known for our PISA results. Perhaps there’s something in the water here, or it might have something to do us raising our kids with boundaries, but not necessarily with rules.

Maybe this go-play-outside-and-come-back-for-dinner-kind of upbringing might have also made us focus on creating rule-free apps for kids. Yup, kids. In the land of Rovio and Supercell, we at Kapu decided on moving to the niche sector of producing apps for one-to-six year olds. Why?

Well, why not? The kids of this generation are truly the first “digi-native” (thanks, marketing guys for the ugly term) generation. Tapping, swiping, pinching and all other gestures come naturally for infants even before they are able to dress themselves. So, shouldn’t there be content specifically created for them? Content built in a secure and safe way.

But, as most games are ingeniously created to addict users, we, designing content for kids, have to forget nearly all of the rules of a normal gaming studio’s strategies.

By stating that there should be no rules, no high-scores, no difficulty levels, no time limits and, most importantly, substituting addictiveness with creativity, you’re left with very little game-like tactics on your table.

That’s why when designing apps for kids, you should never use games as a reference, but reflect the way kids play their games and plays in real life. Narrow every idea down to its most simplistic form and base the app on it.

The only rule we have obeyed, as a company, is to always concentrate on nothing but fun. Fun surprises, a fun sandbox to create your own playtime and, to be super poetic, creating a fun vessel for the imagination. We might not have the millions and millions of active users per day like Supercell, but we always have the happy kids’ smiles to keep us going. And that is something to be proud of.

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