Posts Tagged: apps

Jun 13

Mr Shingu’s Paper Zoo – origami meets Tamagotchi

Computer games are incredible things, but their real potential is in inspiring young people to be more creative after they put the iPad or joypad down, according to Frank Arnot from Stormcloud Games. Here Frank writes exclusively for HELLO! Online about creating games for families.

As parents and gamers, creating fun experiences for kids is hugely important for us – and that’s why we decided to start up our own company last year after many years in the games industry.

Between the three founders, we’ve worked in the games industry for over 50 years and created 45 titles for just about every computer and console you can think of. We worked on the F1 games, Harry Potter and helped with the Xbox version of Minecraft too.

Title screen - Mr Shingu's Paper Zoo

We think of Mr Shingu’s Paper Zoo as ‘origami meets Tamagotchi’ – children get to trace their finger on an iPad or iPhone to fold 24 different animals, choose their colours, and then watch them magically spring to life.

The child then has to pick a habitat and a shelter for their animal, and fold them a partner so they can create baby animals in their Paper Zoo. They have to look after all their different animals, feed them and entertain them to make sure they’re happy.

But for us the real measure of success for Paper Zoo might sound a bit odd – we really want children to put the game down and start folding paper to create a real paper zoo at home.

Animal shop - Mr Shingu's Paper Zoo

We’ve been really fortunate to work with a Japanese origami master, Mr Fumiaki Shingu, so all of the designs in the game are completely accurate.

As children (and big kids!) play the game, they’ll learn how to fold animals like pandas, lions, owls and seals, and we’ve included lessons to help make that learning process as easy as possible.

Games like Skylanders and Disney Infinity are incredible because they allow children to mix playing in a game with playing with toys in the real world, but buying all the games and all the toys can be very expensive.

As parents who feel the pressure to buy all the latest toys, we were shocked when ‘in-app’ purchases hit the headlines earlier this year with one boy spending almost £2,000 in just 15 minutes on the family iPad.

Zoo in day - Mr Shingu's Paper Zoo

Right from the start we were very clear – there’s no hidden extras to pay for in Paper Zoo. You buy the game once, for the price of a kids’ magazine, and that’s it.

We’ve loved working in the games industry for all these years. It can be incredibly tough to get a product finished, but at a basic level being able to bring fun and happiness into people’s lives is just incredible.

With Paper Zoo we’ve taken a big personal step, to design the games that as parents we want our kids to be playing. And if we can bring some joy to young people – and inspire them to fold and paint their own paper zoos – then we’ll have achieved something really important indeed!

We’d love to see pictures of the paper animals your kids make – so please get in touch with us on Facebook [] or Twitter []. Origami paper from a craft shop or online store is best, but any square paper – or trimming A4 to make a square – will work.

Happy folding!

Mr Shingu’s Paper Zoo is available now on the App Store

Mar 13

Making an app: young BAFTA-winning design talent Sophia George tells her story

You’ve probably been there: Trying to get your iPhone back off the kids, who tell you “ten more minutes” or “just one more level”. When can all appreciate the peace and quiet that comes from a really good app, but how many of us stop to think about what goes into making one? Sophia George has just launched her first game at the grand old age of 22. Here, she tells HELLO! Online about the process.

“I am the Chair and Creative Director of a new start-up studio called Swallowtail Games and my first game Tick Tock Toys has just been released on the App Store!

“I’ve been gaming and using computers since I was very little. My first computer was an Amiga 500, which I still have great memories of. As I got older, I started thinking about seriously pursuing games as a career. I was always told that you needed to be excellent at maths to work in games, but there so many different skills involved with making a game.

Swallowtail team photo - web

“I ended up studying Games Art and Design at Norwich University of the Arts, learning a wide range of skills from 3D modelling, animation, drawing and design. I also began to study games from a more academic perspective.

“I started to see how women characters are poorly represented, often sexualised and most of the time appearing as supporting characters, or even as prizes for the main hero. I found myself always dissatisfied with the female characters, so it just made we want to get into the industry even more. For my final year dissertation, I studied why there are so few women in the games industry, looking into individual games, feminist theory, developer interviews, evolutionary psychology and art history.

“I also found problems with the games industry outside of the actual games! During university, I attended the Eurogamer Expo, a huge event that showcases up and coming game titles to the public. While queuing to get inside, a few security guards told me that I must be in the wrong queue, assuming I was trying to find the Earl’s Court Wedding Show!


“In 2011 I entered a 10-week competition run by Abertay University in Dundee called Dare to be Digital with friends and other students I met online from Abertay. Together we developed my game idea Tick Tock Toys, which went on the win the competition, as well as the BAFTA Ones to Watch Award in March 2012. It was an exciting night, and I met so many great people – and even saw a few celebrities!

“Now Tick Tock Toys is available on the App Store, and I am so happy that it has gone from a small idea I came up with to a published game! I am very happy with the game and proud of my team. I am so keen to make more family friendly games that people can enjoy together.

“For too long has gaming been seen as a hobby for boys, but now it’s all starting to change. Currently, 47% of gamers are women, and if we get more women into the development side of games, I’m sure we’ll see some even more amazing and innovative games being created.”

Download the game from iTunes –


Dec 12

iPhone and iPad add-ons for an app-y Christmas and New Year

Yes, you can make calls on your iPhone, and browse the internet on your iPad, but there’s so much more to the Apple gadgets than that. With the help of some nifty little add ons the touch-screen wonderkids can be transformed into fun games to keep the whole family entertained. Getting your phone or tablet back at any point could be a little tricky though.


What better way to get your festive or New Year’s Eve party started than with a good old fashioned sing song? With a microphone and speakers, the Appsing turns your smart phone into a portable karaoke machine. All you need to do is download your favourites from the appstore and you’re good to go.

£39.99 from all good toy stores or

Speck iGuy Case

Little ones can be kept amused for hours with a gaming app – but the fun stops if the iPad slips out of little fingers and ends up in pieces on the floor. But the iGuy is a great solution to iPad danger, protecting iPads or iPad minis from bumps and scrapes. The legs and arms transform it into a sweet little computer person, and act as a stand or just provide something for kids to easily hold onto.

£24.97 for iPad 4/3/2 and £22.97 for iPad mini in a range of colours from


Forget charades or scrabble, this is the next generation of after-dinner party games. Download the free app and plug in your device and you can stage your own quiz show in the comfort of your own living room. There are thousands of questions to test the general knowledge of all the know-it-all dads out there, but will they be quick enough on the buzzer to beat the rest of the family?

£29.99 from all good toy stores or


What if you could be transported back in time to the Eighties, but without the dodgy fashion and haircuts? The Arcadie can’t quite promise that, but it does offer the thrill of button bashing down the arcades that some members of the family might remember from the era. Think Eighties games with the added auchenticity of an old style joystick and buttons – all you need is the free app, which is loaded with retro games – then slot your iPhone into the unit, no wifi, power cables (or spare change) required. It’s hard to tell who will like this more, children or kids from the Eighties.

£14.99 from


Anyone who ever had a Tamagotchi will know how much fun it is to have your own virtual pet to care for. The Appling takes things one step further, changing your iPhone or iPod touch into a furry little friend who responds to touch, motion and voice commands. All you need is the free AppLinz app from the Appstore and you’re all set.

£14.99 from all good toy stores or

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