How an iPhone game can make a small difference…

Recently I received an email that contained a touching story about how one of our iPhone games, Spazzle!, has made a small difference in the lives of some folks who need regular physical therapy. With her permission, I am sharing the story with you. She wrote:

“So thought you would be interested to hear this – I just got Spazzle a few days ago. I have been playing a lot. Ok that’s the background.

“My mom (69) has MS and has had a flare up recently meaning I need to be spending time there to help out. Well we were waiting for one of the visiting Physical Therapists to arrive and I showed her my “new game” to like distract her. She thought it was cute and asked how to play. So I let her play around with it. The PT came in while she was playing and asked what game she was playing so she showed her. The PT was REALLY impressed and said that was a great game to help with her finger movement! So SHE is going to download it to have it as a distraction for patients she thinks can benefit from it!”

Spazzle has had almost 1 million downloads to date..

But this is my favorite one. 🙂

– fairlady

If you give a toddler an iPhone…

A toddler with an iPhone

A toddler with an iPhone

Recently Fairlady Media began developing educational games for preschoolers. I’ve asked a few others in the vast community of  iPhone/iPod Touch users to come up with the best advice they have for making the most of your little one’s interactions with your iPhone or iPod Touch. Here are some ideas:

1. Get a sturdy non-slip case to protect your expensive device. My kids are pretty good about not throwing my iPhone, but drops are inevitable. As one parent wrote, “My rubber case is a lifesaver” – Toucharcade user darchinst

2. Expect it to get sticky. No matter how clean his/her hands are, you’ll always get your iPhone back with “kid goo” and fingerprints smearing the entire surface. Eyeglasses cleaner works great to remove the smudges!

One Toucharcade user wrote: “My 7-year old brother usually gets a bunch of unidentifiable sticky stuff on the screen, and once got the home button almost permanently depressed, but never seriously damaged it.” – Kamazar

3. The quality of the apps is more important than you might think. You may think that a polished well-designed game is overkill for a 3 year old, but believe me, they know what’s good and what’s not. My daughter becomes just as easily bored with hack-job flash cards as I would. Check out the reviews and screen shots before buying.

4. If it’s in the educational category, here are a few key things to look for in the app description:

a) targeted age group (be cautious of games that provide too wide a range… rarely will an educational game be appropriate for ages 3-10!),
b) specific skills taught or reinforced (e.g. letters, numbers, words, etc),
c) specific descriptions of how skills are taught (e.g. through drill and practice, through animation, audio, video, interaction, gameplay, etc),
d) qualifications of the developers (e.g. parents, educators, learning specialists).

A child with an iPhone

A child with an iPhone

5. Check the age restrictions posted in the app description. Many Apps that LOOK kid-friendly (to a kid) are actually NOT kid-friendly. Consider grouping all of the kid-apps on one page of your device. Then tell your child to only select games from that
page.

6. Come to terms with the fact that if you give your child your iPhone, you may not get it back!

As one Dad wrote, “My 3.5 year old has been playing with my iPhone for the last 10 months. Loves it. To the point that when he sees me he doesn’t say “PAPA” any more. He shouts “iPhone” when I reach home, with a hell of a lot more enthusiasm!” – ImNoSuperMan, Toucharcade User

Many thanks to the users in Toucharcade for the great discussion on the topic:
http://forums.toucharcade.com/showthread.php?t=19354&highlight=toddler

– fairlady

Whizzit Counting game by Fairlady Media

Whizzit Counting game by Fairlady Media

“I have no money, but I want to develop an iPhone app!”

I have heard this type of comment a lot in developer forums. It is often paired with “I’ve got this great idea…” and “Where do I start?”. The most recent post I read later revealed the submitter was 14 years old. It got me thinking… What advice would I offer a high-school-age young person about how to get started with iPhone development? Here’s my answer:

***
Tell *everyone* that you know that you are interested in developing iPhone games, and tell them what you need to get started. Tell your parents, your teachers, your friends, your parents’ friends, etc. Who knows? Maybe you have a neighbor who knows someone with a Mac… even someone who does development work and could help you get started?

Surely your school has a computer lab where you could work to get familiarized with a Mac? There may be a computer teacher who would be willing to work with you and get the necessary software installed? There are lots of kids who can earn credit or special honors by completing a special project at school. Try joining or starting a computer club at your school. Sometimes there are *free* resources available to students in clubs like that…

All this will be practice for one of the essential skills in developing iPhone games… it’s called networking! By getting to know other developers and making friends with people who have the resources you need, you will be better positioned to develop and market your games.
***

Best of luck to all those young people out there who are committed to pursuing their dreams! 🙂

– fairlady