The minds behind CBeebies’ The Lingo Show—Nicole Seymour and prodco Complete Control—have launched the first in a series of innovative adventure apps designed to teach kids different languages and cultures as they go globetrotting with an exotic furry friend.
In the Pacca Alpaca-Australia app, kids join the friendly alpaca (similar to a small lama) on a magical carousel ride from his home in the Andes Mountains to Australia. Game play along with the element of adventure helps kids become more culturally aware while they learn colors, shapes and numbers in five different languages: English, French, Spanish, Mandarin and Arabic. Designed for kids aged two to six, the apps series will see Pacca Alpaca and his friends travel to all corners of the world. As it expands, so too will the learning categories and languages offered.
The app is available worldwide at The App Store and Google Play for US$3.99. It is a straight-paid play—there are no in-app purchases, third-party ads or social media links. To help establish the brand and drive consumer awareness, Seymour says smaller companion apps will be released in between the big-adventure apps at a lower price-point. The first one will be released this summer, with at least another by the end of the year. The second adventure app (Pacca’s destination to be determined) could be ready for launch around that time, also. And as the brand becomes more established, licensing and merchandising opportunities will be explored, as well as a subscription model.
To promote discovery and celebrate the app’s initial launch, the partners are reaching out to parenting sites and blogs to solicit reviews, and a social media campaign is underway, among other things.
Seymour says what sets the multilingual app apart from others in the market is its authentic setting and distinct narrative. Instead of designing an app where children simply play games and complete drill-type exercises, London-based startup Anamil Tech and double-BAFTA award winning children’s prodco Complete Control created an experience-based app that lets children explore the landscape while having fun learning words in other languages.
“I believe we’re trying to do something really special here, really different,” says Seymour, who has been creating and producing multiplatform content for preschool children for more than 15 years with the BBC, Disney, Scholastic and Lego, and is now the creative director at Anamal Tech. Extensive research with native Australians went into the app’s design, and the country was chosen as Pacca’s first destination because of its natural intrigue. “It’s such a faraway place, yet it’s so kid-friendly with the beautiful landscapes, outdoor life, nature and animals,” she adds.
Anamil Tech founder Dr. Sarah Faisal Al Saud, who holds a degree in human-computer interaction, came up with the idea for the app as a way to help teach her two UK-born children Arabic, her mother tongue. Based on her vision, the app was created to ensure game play is age-appropriate and intuitive, with activities designed to stimulate early developmental skills. Music also features prominently in the cultural element of the app.
“We did a lot of kid-testing with our Pacca Alpaca app and it’s so interesting watching them because they’re tapping on the animals, they’re playing the game and they don’t even realize it, but they start to say words out loud,” says Seymour. “It really is like a digital toy that has so much power in terms of the animation, the interactivity, and also the portability of it.”
Ensuring kids get that interactive experience is key, she continues, and hopefully parents, teachers and caregivers will participate in the learning, too. To extend play from the virtual to the real-world, a hub of information and collaborative activities about content found in the apps will be available in Pacca’s Corner on the website www.paccaalpaca.com. eBooks will also help develop the story’s narrative. “We really want kids to love him, become friends with him and feel safe with him,” she adds.