It turns out that you can teach a snowman new tricks. Snowman’s Ryan Cash and Jordan Rosenberg have made their mark as iOS game developers, creating titles such as Alto’s Adventure, Alto’s Odyssey, Where Cards Fall, and Skate City. But now the company has come up with something completely different: Pok Pok game room.
The app comes from Ryan and Melissa Cash, a team of siblings in Toronto, and their developers Esther Huybreghts and Mathijs Demaeght in Belgium. They’ve been working together at Snowman for some time, but for the past few years, they’ve been obsessed with Pok Pok Playroom, a new digital children’s toy that will be available on May 20 for a $ 4 subscription. They created a new company, Pok Pok, based on learning by playing to provide Pok Pok Playroom.
The name comes from the baby words Huybreghts and Demaeght said when they patted their little boy’s cheeks. It feels like an immersive experience, aimed at young children 2-6 years old, without words and only with intuitive instructions. Played on iOS on an iPhone or iPad, Pok Pok Playroom features images of toys that you can touch. When you do this, you can dive into a rabbit hole experience with the toy. Children can run with it and play for hours at a time. She is an important digital babysitter for parents who are busy working from home during the pandemic.
Pok Pok Playroom is a collection of handcrafted toys that stimulate imagination, creativity and learning through open play. The app encourages kids to use their imaginations, be creative, and think outside the box while exploring the toy playroom. There is no right or wrong and no victory or defeat – kids can just follow their noses and explore. Handmade art and soft sounds set the tone for peaceful play times, so kids feel calm during and after play, Melissa Cash said in an interview with GamesBeat.
Huybreghts and Demaeght have been part of the Snowman team for years, and they started working there a few years ago after having their first son. Melissa Cash visited them in Belgium and fell in love with the idea. Snowman incubated the title for a while, even though the company didn’t feel like it was a Snowman game. They assembled a small team at a company separate from Snowman and created the interactive children’s app. The team’s mission is to help uplift and inspire the next generation of creative thinkers.
âWe saw that it could be a whole interactive world for the kids,â Ryan Cash said in an interview. “With the pandemic, it has become more important than ever to have educational and highly nutritious content for children on digital devices.”
Approved by educators
Pok Pok has worked with a team of educators from around the world to make sure they get every little detail in Pok Pok Playroom right. It has received feedback from teachers and early childhood educators, occupational therapists and sensory experts.
Children are empowered to take risks and feel fulfilled when things come together for them. Their curiosity is rewarded with play, not prizes. Toys will grow with children, challenge and stimulate them as they grow older and become more curious – the more they explore, the more they will discover.
âPok Pok is kind of a digital space where you kept all your toys as a child,â said Melissa Cash. âWe wanted it to be as open as a real playroom where you can walk [in], and you can pick up a toy, you can follow your nose, you can put it down, you can mix toys together, you can step on a Lego piece and scream. And basically, creating a space for the kids to do their own work. “
The app will have regular updates of new toys in the playroom. There is always something new to explore, so playtime never gets old. Hand-drawn animation and soft sounds set the tone for peaceful playtime moments, captivating children without overwhelming them. The people in the app will reflect the diversity of families who play Pok Pok by representing a variety of people, family structures, genders, races and abilities.
Promotes independence and sharing: Children intuitively know what to do with each toy and can guide their play on their own. The entire playroom is designed for collaborative play so that children can share one device and play together at the same time.
Parents can save their child’s drawings to iCloud and print or share the art with family and friends. A subscription spans all your devices through Family Sharing on iOS.
A team of five created the rec room app and Snowman has funded the entire project since 2018. Demaeght and Hubreghts started creating the art in 2017. Snowman started in 2012 with an app called Checkmark. The company got into games with Circles, based on the Simon sound-based electronic game. Alto’s Adventure was released in 2015, and a steady stream of apps and games came after that.
âWe were never sort of a video game studio,â said Ryan Cash. âWe just see ourselves as a creative studio that enjoys working on things that interest and excite us.â
This is how they turned to Pok Pok Playroom, which the Belgian couple presented as a children’s book brought to life on the iPad. Ryan Cash felt the companies should be separated because Snowman can work on more mature titles for everyone, while Pok Pok is aimed at young people.
Most of the content is organized by the team, but there are tools that kids can use like a drawing toy for their own creations. Later, the team can think about user-generated content. It does not contain any traditional academic style learning like learning your ABCs or numbers. But games like color matching or sorting are in Pok Pok. That way, it’s hard to quantify the impact of creative learning in the game, said Melissa Cash.
âWe’re going to launch with six toys in the playroom. And each toy is very different. Some of them are inspired by some of the classic toys we all grew up with. And others are just crazy stuff that we write up. And each of them targets a different type of game, and therefore learning, âsaid Melissa Cash. âWe think there is so much that children can learn while playing. And learning to play is actually one of the best ways to develop cognitive and socio-emotional skills. “
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