Let’s face it. Tablets, smartphones and music players have become the new babysitters, taking that job away from television. With that in mind, game developer Jordan Weisman’s Go Go Kiddo startup has launched a new mobile app that entertains kids ages two to five.
The app, which is launching today on the Kindle Fire and other Android devices, delivers a virtual educational playground for young kids. The app has seven mini-games that the kids can play to learn about letters, numbers, and music.
While the overall App Store is crowded, not as many apps have targeted the youngest kids. But then again, not everyone has thought about the demographics like Jordan Weisman, co-founder of Go Go Kiddo.
“As we project forward, we think the future of children’s TV isn’t on TV,” Weisman said in an interview. “The role of the TV will be supplanted by touchscreen devices. We are seeing that change quickly, as children embrace mobile devices and parents hand them to the backseat to make the kids happy.”
Go Go Kiddo is positioned as an environment that parents can trust and kids can explore for hours without getting into trouble. The games teach basic social concepts, develop motor skills, and engage kids with animated characters. The app is available on the Amazon Appstore for Android for $1.99. Extra entertainment packs, including the Snow Go Kiddo activity module, will cost 99 cents.
Weisman, who spoke at our recent GamesBeat 2011 conference about how games have hit their all-time peak, said the company went with the flat pricing because parents don’t trust their kids to play apps with virtual goods, where they can run the risk of running up big bills if the kids buy too much stuff.
Weisman’s founding team includes Dawne Weisman (Jordan’s wife) Joe DiNunzio, and Shane Small. The company has just 10 employees, but it has been busy as it has launched four titles in the past year. The iPhone version has been out for a week and Weisman said the game is seeing good retention.
The game’s mini-activities include Letter Launch, a game that allows kids to hear letter sounds and trace letters; Trace ‘n Race, which lets kids trace a number from 1 to 36 and race against the clock to click on all of the pictures that show that number; Creative Keys, which lets kids play a virtual piano and make a variety of other noises; MyStickerbook, which lets kids take pictures and then decorate them with digital stickers; Go Go Tunes, which are cartoon episodes aimed at teaching topics such as sharing, avoiding bullying, and respecting others.
Weisman has a long history in the game industry. He started making toys and games in 1980, when he founded FASA, which made the Shadowrun and BattleTech toy and game franchises. He founded Virtual World Entertainment, a virtual reality franchise, in 1987 and sold the company to Disney in 1992. He started a video game version of FASA, FASA Interactive, in 1995 and sold it to Microsoft in 1999.
Weisman’s last company, Smith & Tinker, was able to raise $29 million in venture capital because its founders — Joe Lawandus and Weisman — are heavyweights in the game and entertainment industries. That company focused on hybrid games that fit in with toys. Weisman also operates Harebrained Schemes, which also makes a variety of games.