Jeff Corwin has met face-to-face with deadly black mambas, incurred permanent injuries from playing with an elephant, and explored the expansive depths of oceans around the world. The only animal kingdom he has yet to embrace is the digital landscape of mobile games and applications.
That changes today.
The widely recognized conservationist, and host of various TV documentaries, is looking to expand his unique brand of entertainment and education to mobile devices. Corwin’s media company, Jeff Corwin Connect, partnered with YogiPlay, which recently created a service to curate the best apps designed for children, to release a free game called Animal Bingo: JeffCorwinConnect. It’s now available on the iTunes App Store.
In this card matching app, kids match the sounds animals make with their appropriate names and pictures, unlocking more levels, challenges, and species as they progress.
“I am delighted to launch this game, which brings the sounds and images of animals into the digital world kids are living in today, connecting them to the ultimate reality show out there, which is nature,” said Jeff Corwin, in a press release sent to GamesBeat.
“This makes perfect sense for us,” said Anurag Agarwal, president of JCC, in an interview with GamesBeat, “because what YogiPlay has done is they’ve built this incredible platform with all of the relationships and expertise to pick developers, as well as existing products out there that can be relevant to us in our space…. We feel like, through this partnership, we have sort of this space of mobile gaming apps covered fairly well, and we can really bring a suite of products. And we can target different demographics, we can focus on different subject matters, and really build our digital portfolio out.”
“We’re very excited to work with Anurag because we feel like, very early on, you can teach [children] eco-concepts,” said Cedric Sellin, chief executive officer of YogiPlay. “And for a lot of kids, like in the game that’s launching, it’s about seeing the real physical animal, which is something Anurag and Jeffrey [told] us…. One of the key challenges in this space for kids is [what if] they’ve never seen a real sea lion? Never seen an elephant, a real one?
“So the cartoon is nice, but if we can just make it map to the actual physical animal, I think that’s where the skill set of [JCC], who’ve been in the eco-friendly space for their whole lives, and…[with] our technology perspective, and of developers, we can try to make the best content to reach the child. So that a 4-year-old gets exposed to what an elephant looks like, even if he’s in the middle of nowhere and doesn’t have the opportunity to go to the zoo.”
With the help of its internal team of early childhood experts with Ph.Ds in education, YogiPlay submits potential apps through rigorous testing. Its educators then play and rate the apps, and if approved, they place them into YogiPlay’s recommendation engine for parents to peruse. And by registering their mobile device on the company’s website, parents can monitor the in-app progress of their child — either on the site itself or in the form of e-mail reports — and look at which sections or levels they played, and also to see what other kinds of content might appeal to them.
For developers under the program, YogiPlay shares anonymous data on the type of age groups who are using the apps, including insight and analytics from its educators.
“As Cedric pointed out, it was important to actually connect kids to the sounds of these animals with…a [visualization of them], which is really a problem that Jeff, in his long career, has identified,” said Agarwal. “Which is, kids are growing up in a digital world today, and the problem is not that they have any less of an interest or passion for animals. The problem is they just don’t have enough exposure to the space in a positive, interactive way.”
Partnering with Jeff Corwin Connect is just the beginning for the Menlo Park, Calif.-based YogiPlay. In the coming months, it hopes to expand its reach to even more parents and children.
“We are actually right now starting a process of fundraising so that we can have more of a reach to the parents in various areas,” said Michal Sellin, chief technologist for YogiPlay. “With Jeff Corwin, it’s about the importance of being an eco-citizen.We’re looking at other brands as well so that we can increase further and we’re looking forward to an exciting few months of fundraising.”