Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
My name is Simon and I've been working in games a long time, 20 years to be precise. My first job in the game industry was a character designer for Croc:Legend Of The Gobbos which I kind of stumbled into, as Argonaut at the time didn't manage to get the license for Yoshi. Since then I've worked in the games industry on lots of titles on all platforms; Harry Potter, The Incredibles, Littlest Pet Shop, South Park, Blade 2, Van Helsing are just some of titles you may have heard of. I started my own company around 7 years ago and we've worked on a variety of projects.
You've moved into the field of educational apps. What lead you here?
Actually my wife Maria is a teacher and our first app 'Maria's Spanish Class' did pretty well on iOS. We saw there were opportunities to 'gamify' educational apps and combine our knowledge base.
In general, why do you think mobile technology is so powerful in the modern classroom?
Well, the fact that tablets and similar devices connect to the internet is a massive factor but also the tools available are increasingly productive. The connectivity of course allows students and teachers to correspond in ways like never before. Having a tablet is also a lot lighter to carry around than the rucksack full of books I used to have to cycle to school with everyday :)
What was the inspiration for the Story Box project?
Definitely my two sons gave me the spark. Reading bedtime stories to them gave me the initial idea. However, while researching on one of my more recent titles, I also saw that a lot of children love to create their own You Tube video stories with their own toys and post them online. This is what Story Box is all about; kids and parents using their imaginations to create interactive stories and experiences. We want kids to be creative while having fun and to be able to share those creations.
How long have you been working on it already?
Around 5 months so far.
What are the key features planned for the app?
Well there are quite a few. We want the co-operative play to be a big part of the app as well as the story creation aspects. Overall though, I think that I really want Story Box to be an app that children can play over and over again and never get bored. I want children to grow up with Story Box and for it to be a great memory for them once they are older (Maybe like Croc:).
Was it important for you to develop something for kids to create rather than just absorb content?
Yes. A lot of the story telling apps out there have one cool feature or story that you do (or read), then once you've done that, the app loses its appeal. We want Story Box to have a ton of content and variety so kids can keep coming back to it. By enabling children and parents to create their own stories, means that users will keep coming back to the app long after other apps have lost their appeal. The creative aspects will allow for endless possibilities. We plan for lots of add-ons like Dinosaurs, language learning, fairytales and tons more stuff. Users will be able to mix and match these packs into their own unique and wonderful creations.
How can people help support the project?
You can follow this link to the Kickstarter project, where you can support us by donating or sharing.
What sorts of rewards are you offering to people that pledge their support?
We're offering all kinds of rewards. The app itself will be free but our rewards include endless free Story Pack downloads for life, having your name in game and even getting your hands on some of the original Croc concept sketches form 1997.
When are you hoping to release the app?
If we get funded we plan to bring the first iteration of the app out by Christmas 2014. We'll then follow on from that release with regular content updates.
Thank you for speaking with us about the project Simon. Your pedigree speaks for itself and we're happy to support this great looking app complete development. We look forward to trying it out ourselves soon.