2013 Mobile Awards

mobile, web, IoT, desktop, connected devices
design champion, best studio, best start-up & IoT
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Bento Box Shapes [DRAFT]







Project Overview

In this gorgeous food-themed shape game for children aged 2-4, create a bento box animal lunch, by matching food shapes - layer by layer! It’s the perfect activity to entertain your kids while meals are being prepared and will encourage kids to get excited about trying healthy foods in new ways. Bento Box Shapes provides a simple yet educationally focused experience that can be played independently or as co-play with parents or siblings.


Two Bulls


Joey Egger - Executive Producer
Alison Dale - Game Designer/Project Manager
Tom Lundell - Lead Programmer
Tali Gal-on - Lead Designer

Project Brief

The Two Bulls Kids team decided to give ourselves a challenge - create an app for Toddlers in no more than two weeks, from conception to completion. Bento Box Shapes came out of the desire to showcase our experience in game design and UI for a preschool audience, and a current team passion for the cuteness of Japanese Bento Box lunches! Putting it all together, we decided on an app concept that could not only showcase intuitive UI and beautiful graphics for this young age group but also promote the concept of co-play that combines digital and physical worlds - a child and a parent could be together performing a similar task - the child in-game, and the parent in the real world.

In the case of Bento Box Shapes case we looked at meal preparation for toddlers, designing a simple experience where a child could play while a parent prepares lunch. With that scenario in mind, we established some key learning outcomes we wanted the game to have, such as simple shape recognition, sorting and matching, developing fine motor skills, and exposing the children to what makes up simple healthy food. Along with that, we focused heavily on the goal of children recognising healthy but not-so appealing foods (peas, onions) outside of the game environment as a way of encouraging children to try foods in new ways.

Project Need

In addition to noticing a lack of high quality apps for Toddlers (2-4) in the app market, we also identified a lack of toddler games in the market place that supported the concept of a co-play, play that merges physical and digital play. This form of co-play is something we already see in non-digital toys and play sets, where children may have a kitchen playlet in their homes actual kitchen, so they can join with parents in preparing meals. However we felt it was completely absent from the digital games space, and with Bento Box Shapes we set out to create something that could be played along side parents preparing meals.
In addition, Bento Box Shapes was aimed at providing a very simple, non-restrictive, playful, narratively driven experience. We don't punish the player for experimenting and playing around but provide a understandable and very simple goal with clear conditions of success. In the same way that a kitchen play set provides a recognisable scenario but doesn't punish a child for putting cups in the oven, Bento Box Shapes doesn't punish the child for playing around and exploring, but gives them a recognisable scenario to return to.

User Experience

In coming up with an innovative play scenario, Joey and team focused on the physicality of the play despite it being a digital game. Testing early versions of the game with children, we examined how they perceived and interacted with the device and came out with a selection of instances where usage of full suite of technology would hurt more than help. Once we had established this list we set about resolving the problems in our design.
For example, we know due to size ratios and overall device weight, children often rest their hands at the bottom of the iPad. This meant removing touchable icons from the bottom of the screen so that they wouldn't be hidden or accidentally touched by children simply wanting to engaged with something higher on the screen. Multi touch gameplay was also discarded early on, to ensure when a child starts touching an object they didn't accidentally start manipulating something else on screen at the same time.

Lastly, young children struggled with dragging objects over the long distances of the iPad screen size. We designed a system where the child could 'put down' the object, rather than have it snap back across the screen as it might in many other games.

Project Marketing

Bento Box Shapes is a way to provide parents an introduction into our upcoming Two Bulls Kids group of educational games for preschoolers (not yet released) , showcasing an app that accessible to audiences world-wide (no voice over in the game), is free, and has no IAP or advertising. In essence, we're providing a game that is extremely simple, but one that is meaningful and intuitive for both toddler and parent, thus building audience trust.

We were thrilled to find that within 24 hours after the app was released, it was featured in the app store in 160 countries under the kids > games, and kids > education categories, gaining almost 2,000 downloads in 24 hours. We're equally thrilled to find that in the two weeks since the app was released, there is an 80% user return rate.

This category relates to educational and family games developed for the mobile platform.
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