Well, we released our first beta (I should really call it an alpha) to our huge posse of testers last week (OK, 7) and the forms are starting to trickle in. So far we’re getting really good feedback, and the major requests are already on our todo lists. But we’re starting to run out of time, and there’s still a ton of things to do. Who would have thought it was so tough to get an app released on the app store? Honestly, the construction and creation of the app itself has been the least stressful part of this (for me, at least.)
FlatPack was born from a few things: my interest in kids toys (despite a lack of any sort of manual or design skills), a feeling that the games available on the iPad and iPhone weren’t really that interesting (to me anyway), and I wasn’t that thrilled with my kids playing with them either. Oh yeah, and possibly a way to support the family. Well, a man can dream…
One thing that’s interested me is the question of what academic (and other) research says on this question of open ended play versus the kinds of childrens’ apps I see out there. Some of them are designed for kids, others not, but one way or another kids seem to end up playing with them, so I wondered what the effects were.
The other day I came up with an idea that really hit home: why not give a percentage of the purchase price of the app to a kids charity? This felt right in a lot of ways. One of the things that’s always been on my mind as I’m developing this app is: shouldn’t I really be volunteering in Africa or some other selfless task instead of (insert current activity here)? And of course, creating an iPad app, even though it’s for kids, even though it is trying to be different, trying to get the lazy little <plural pejorative> to use their brains a little more, well, it’s still an iPad app. Not targeting the most needy, really.
We’ve got two kids. Ages 8 and 5 as of this writing (birthday coming up in Oct., wish us luck), and we’ve managed, so far, to keep their screen time limited to two days a week. By screen time , I mainly mean “playing Club Penguin” or “completely immersed in the iPad”. Movies don’t count. Anyway, the amazing thing is how stressed out it seems to make them when you try to take it away. I’ve never seen them so freaked out as when we tell them that time’s up and they actually have to interact with the real world again.